Thursday, January 29, 2009

Investing in the Future of Real Estate

Mary B. Smith - Pittsburgh, PA

In today's unstable economic climate, it is more important than ever to take hold of one's own future. With unemployment rates rising and investment in the stock market producing less than favorable results, real estate continues to be a sound investment for the future. It opens opportunities for financial success to anyone with the right knowledge and a small amount of determination.

Jim Toner knows this fact well, going from rags to riches while building his own success through real estate investments. Twenty years ago, Toner lived in a one-room apartment furnished with plastic lawn furniture. Today, he resides in a beautiful home with his wife and two children and can easily afford luxury cars and vacations. Even more important than the luxury comforts is the peace of mind that comes with financial stability, a peace of mind that everyone strives to achieve.

Toner helps others gain that kind of personal freedom and financial security by helping those less fortunate through his involvement in community assistance programs and sharing his knowledge and experience in real estate. Toner, who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, feels a strong sense of responsibility to give back to the community. "It is my opinion that any part of a successful life must include helping others," says Toner, "this is why we make it a point to stay actively involved in community, national and international outreach services."

Toner achieves this goal by donating his time as head of the advisory board for the McKeesport branch Salvation Army. In addition, Toner acts as a board member of Frank McKinney's Caring House Project Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps the poor all over the world by providing shelter, food, water and even medical support.

They also help people in need within their own community via Hope Lives Foundation. This non-profit organization focuses on providing hope and basic needs to people that have slipped through the cracks of other charitable organizations and have nowhere else to go. The Hope Lives Foundation provides housing, food, clothing and monetary help with utility bills and security deposits.

Besides helping those in need, Toner also strives to help fellow community members achieve their financial goals by offering the benefits of his 20 years of experience in real estate. He shares these useful tools and insight through seminars and workshops. He also has the assistance of a complete team of local people who know how to avoid the risks and pitfalls when making a real estate investment. The Wealth Builders team is made up of local investors, familiar with the Pittsburgh real estate market, that assist and support local investors as they launch their own real estate investment business.

The Wealth Builders team is sponsoring a free seminar, complete with free beverages and appetizers. The seminar will cover all the basics of "flip" investing, rental real estate and more. This event will be held at Dave & Buster's Restaurant at the Waterfront in Homestead, PA on Saturday, January 31 at 12 noon. To register for this free event, call 412-673-9800 or go to the website, Registration is required as space is limited.

Mary Smith is a freelance writer and aspiring author.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Preventing Identity Theft
Take These Simple Steps to Protect Your Personal and Corporate Identity

By Christine Emmick

Identity theft is something most people do not think about until it is too late. Identity theft statistics show over two-hundred-thousand people fall victim to this crime each year just in the United States alone. With these numbers growing, identity theft prevention is more important than ever. Here are some ways you can protect yourself from identity thieves.
Use your credit card instead of your debit card. Credit cards tend to carry more identity theft protection, such as zero-liability for unauthorized purchases. After just two days you may be liable for up to $500 in unauthorized charges on your debit card, and after 60 days you may be liable for all of it.
Choose just one credit card for your everyday purchases. When buying all your personal and corporate supplies, it’s smart to stick with one card instead of spreading the balance over multiple accounts. When you use multiple cards, you are putting each of those accounts at risk for fraud. Also, be sure you monitor the activity on that card closely.
Check your balance frequently. Also consider setting spending limit alerts with your credit card company. Most credit card companies offer an alert service that automatically contacts you when a large charge is made to your account. Contact your credit card company’s online service department to see what type of alerts they offer.
Use an identity theft protection service with fraud alert. There are several companies, like Fair Isaac’s myFiCO, which will help you monitor your credit report and alert you when a possible fraud attempt is made. Some will even back you monetarily, reimbursing you for the losses you’ve suffered at the identity thief’s hand.
Be cautious when opening new retail credit card accounts. It may seem like a great idea to take advantage of that discount, but some retail workers may not be as careful with your sensitive financial information as they should, especially during busy seasonal times. As an aside, each credit inquiry from a lender lowers your credit score, eventually limiting your financing choices.
Check your credit report often. Make sure all the information is correct, including your contact as well as your credit information. Under federal law, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report each year. Contact each of the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union, and ask what the procedure is to get your free report.
Take a credit class. This gives you a good overview of what you will find on your credit report, helps you understand what affects your credit rating and tunes you in on how much damage is caused by identity theft. Credit and You is a class that covers the how to on preventing identity theft, how your credit score is determined as well as how to improve this credit score. This course is available from Staged for Success and for a limited time offered at over half off the regular price. Call 877-615-3294 or visit the website to register.
Following these simple rules reduces your chance of becoming a victim of identity theft drastically. Preventing identity theft does not happen by accident. Know your credit score, monitor your credit activity, and educate yourself about the credit process and identity thieves will shop somewhere else for their next victim.

Content sponsored by Staged for Success, a full service home and business staging company serving the greater Pittsburgh area. For more information about Staged for Success, visit their website at
Christine Emmick is a freelance business and real estate writer based in the Pittsburgh area. You may contact Christine through her blog site at

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Weathering the Storm: Why Local Real Estate May be the Best Way to Invest Money in Today’s Changing Financial Climate

Christine Emmick - Pittsburgh, PA –January 5, 2009

Although the economic storm of recent months has many investors holding tight to their stocks praying the DJIA recovers, some are taking this financial tornado and riding it out in the housing market. While real estate investments have taken a dive in other parts of the country, Pittsburgh continues to be an attractive place to purchase real estate. The Pittsburgh Business Times even reported a global interest in the Pittsburgh region with the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance hosting a group of international investors touring Pittsburgh looking for investment opportunities. “That kind of investment is very good for our region because it creates business activity and jobs here," says Allegheny Conference CEO Mike Langley. (Ref:

These opportunities aren’t limited to the large overseas investor. Small-business investors can take advantage of the Pittsburgh real estate market with a little know how. A quick look through the real estate property listings will reveal hundreds of attractive investment opportunities for those searching for the right prospect. Jim Toner, real estate investor and owner of Wealth Builders, helps people get started. He says that the local investor may have the edge when it comes to the local market because if you live and work in a community, you’ll simply know the climate better. “I believe that only local people, real investors, can know and understand what makes local real estate investing work,” says Toner.

To that end, Toner and his group of experienced real estate investors have created a free seminar to help local investors own some of the community in which they live. This seminar will be held in three area locations in January. They will cover real estate investing basics, property value tips, case studies and business strategies to help the beginning investor start their real estate investing career.

These seminars will be in Greensburg at the Four Points Sheraton, January 13, 2009 at 7:00 p.m., in Greentree at the Radisson, January 14, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. and in Cranberry at the Pittsburgh Marriott North, January 15, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. If you have any questions, or want to register for any of these upcoming business seminars, please call 412-673-9800, or visit the Wealth Builders’ website at Registration is required, as seating is limited.

Christine Emmick is a freelance business writer and Pittsburgh area native.