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You just closed on your new home and are still getting settled when you jump in the shower and there is no hot water or the garage door screeches to a halt when it is halfway open. Whatever the problem is, you likely weren’t counting on it before you even make your first mortgage payment. While it is incredibly frustrating when something goes wrong in your home when you just bought your house you may feel completely overwhelmed by what to do. The key is getting things fixed quickly without spending too much money so where should you start?

The first question to ask yourself is, did you purchase a home warrant and if so is whatever is broken a covered item under your home warranty plan. If you have a home warranty, your first call should be to the warranty company to report the issue. Think of this similar to an insurance policy for home repairs. Once you call your home warranty company, they will start working on the problem. Remember that not all items are covered under a home warranty, and ever for the ones that are, you will likely have to pay a service fee after which the balance of the repair will be covered. The warranty company will then take care of finding an experienced professional to come to your home and complete the repair.

If you decided not to purchase a home warranty when you bought your home or the item that is broken isn’t a covered item, what should you do now? It is always an option to make repairs yourself, but many issues may be out of your comfort zone. If you are new to the area or this is the first home you have owned you may not know who to call. There are lots of ways to find qualified contractors to complete repairs for you. One great resource is me. After many years in the real estate business, I have built a substantial list of professionals that I can recommend to you. Another option is to ask friends, family, and coworkers for recommendations of their favorite professionals. Many people also choose to subscribe to a service like Angie’s List that you can use to find local contractors and read reviews both good and bad from other homeowners who have used them.

If at all possible, go ahead and deal with the issue as soon as you can. Some problems quickly escalate into large-scale issues and can require more involved (and expensive) repairs when they so don’t wait to make repairs any longer than you have to. Whatever you decide is the right approach for you to take, try to remain calm and not get overstressed as you work through your first big hurdle in your new home.

Maureen Cool, CRS
RE/MAX Realty Plus


www.TheCoolTeam.com
Maureen@ACoolRealtor.com

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Maureen Cool is your ultimate real estate resource for Sebring, Avon Park and Lake Placid and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

Mortgage Loans for the Self-Employed

by Maureen Cool

Gone are the stated income mortgages that were popular among self-employed home buyers during the early 2000’s. If you are self-employed, that doesn’t mean your chances of getting a mortgage are gone, it just means that you are likely to need to more documentation than other home buyers. No matter what your job, the key to getting a mortgage is being well prepared with the necessary paperwork.

As a self-employed individual, expect that you will likely need to provide tax returns in addition to other financial documents so your mortgage lender can get a good sense of your financial background. It may take a little longer to complete the underwriting of your mortgage than someone who is paid and receives a W2 but it isn’t impossible. It is absolutely essential that you have the necessary paperwork to share with your mortgage lender if you want to be qualified for your mortgage. Prior to starting the home buying process, talk with a mortgage lender and ask them what all you need to have. Then, go ahead and get all of that paperwork together. It’s not unusual for the lender to come back to you during the underwriting process and ask for additional documentation. If they do, get it to them as quickly as possible so it doesn’t delay closing on your new home.

When you are self-employed and preparing your taxes, you likely document as many expenses as you can to reduce the amount of taxes you have to pay. While that may be good at tax time, it may look like you don’t have the necessary income to support a mortgage and other household expenses if you are showing too many deductions. While your income when you are self-employed can fluctuate drastically, having a significant emergency fund may provide additional confidence to the lender so they will feel like you have the necessary reserves to pay the mortgage should your income change.

If you are purchasing the home with another individual that isn’t self-employed and there income is high enough to qualify for the mortgage, consider doing it just in their name or putting them as the primary borrower and you as the secondary borrower. This will make your income less significant so the lender won’t put as much weight on it and therefore may be more likely to approve the mortgage application.

When you are buying a home, you will often hear how important location, location, location is. A mortgage when you are self-employed is similar but the key word should be documentation, documentation, documentation. As long as you provide the documentation and have the income to support the mortgage, you should have no problem getting a mortgage as a self-employed worker.

Contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may, help you determine the value of your home or help you find your dream home.
 

Maureen Cool, CRS
RE/MAX Realty Plus


www.TheCoolTeam.com
Maureen@ACoolRealtor.com

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Mastering the Bidding War

by Maureen Cool

The current real estate market is very different from recent years. Limited inventory in almost all price ranges has created increased demand for many homes. The homes with the greatest interest are the homes that are well priced, in good to excellent condition and staged well so that photographs highlight the best features of the property.

If you are currently in the market to purchase a home, depending on your criteria, it is likely that you may select a home that other buyers are also interested in and find yourself bidding on a property in a multiple offer situation. If this happens to you, there are some things you can do to your offer that may help it stand out from the others.

  • Price is important but don’t forget the other terms of your offer. Have flexibility where you can. If the seller wants to move quickly or stay longer, offer to adjust your closing time to accommodate their schedule. A larger earnest money deposit is another term of the contract that can make a big impact.
  • Consider including a letter to the seller with your offer. Home negotiating is pretty impersonal in today’s technology filled world. Most offers are completed online, executed with digital signatures and submitted by email. A personal touch (even it the letter is emailed) can make your offer stand out. Share what you loved about their home and what you are looking forward to about living there. Appealing to their emotional side in this way may make just the impact you need to land your offer on top.
  • Remove as many contingencies as you can from your offer. Most people need financing when purchasing a home so that one will likely have to stay but if you are comfortable purchasing the home as is, that might be a big incentive to the seller. You could still choose to have a home inspection so that you know the condition of the property, but you would just buy the home without asking the seller to make any repairs.
  • I said price isn’t the only factor, but price is still most important to many people. If you really want the home and think lots of other people do too, consider making an offer above the listing price. This will show you are really serious about the property. If you think the home will only appraise for the price it is listed at and not for the amount you are offering to pay, make it clear if you are willing to pay more than the appraised value.
  • Make sure to include documentation showing you are qualified to purchase the home. A preapproval letter for a mortgage or proof of funds if you are paying cash are critical to sellers taking your offer seriously.
  • Don’t request the seller leave lots of personal property. If you want their washer and dryer, they will have to buy new ones, which means they have to spend some of the extra money you paid them so just purchase your own once you close on the property.
  • Don’t ask the seller to pay your closing costs. In some price ranges this is very common but paying your own is just one more reason your offer will look better than the next one.

There are many terms to an offer and it can be really hard to know what the best thing is to do. It is critical to have a trusted real estate advisor to guide you through the home buying process. They will work with you to determine the best terms for your offer if you really want the house.

Contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may, help you determine the value of your home or help you find your dream home.
 

Maureen Cool, CRS
RE/MAX Realty Plus


www.TheCoolTeam.com
Maureen@ACoolRealtor.com

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Maureen Cool is your ultimate real estate resource for Sebring, Avon Park and Lake Placid and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

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Pre-Qualification vs Pre-Approval…Which is Better?

by Maureen Cool

If buying a home is in your future, it is important that you sit down with a lender and talk about the process you will have to go through to get a mortgage to pay for your home. There are many steps between finding your dream home and owning it and obtaining a mortgage is probably the most important on the list.  

Many people assume pre-qualifications and pre-approvals are the same thing and don’t take the time to learn the differences. There is a significant difference and if you are purchasing a home and want the seller of the property to take you seriously, you should take the time to get a pre-approval and just skip the pre-qualification.  

A pre-qualification will suggest a price range that you might qualify for but relies on information you provide regarding your income and credit history. The lender will not analyze the information you provide and takes no action to verify the information you provide. If you provide inaccurate information about yourself, the price range the lender suggests will be incorrect and you likely won’t qualify for the mortgage you want.  

A pre-approval is much more involved than a pre-qualification and requires a lot more information from you so the lender can accurately understand your financial situation. During the pre-approval process, you will be expected to provide employment history, which the lender will verify, and provide documentation of your financial assets so the lender can accurately determine how large a mortgage you can afford. They will perform a thorough examination of your credit history that will carry significant weight regarding the size of the mortgage you can obtain and the interest rate you will pay.  

Now that you understand the difference in pre-qualifications and pre-approvals, which one do you think is best? Pre-approval is the clear winner here, and if you were selling your home, is definitely what you would want the buyer of your home to have. It shows the seller of the property you are interested in that you are serious and will give them confidence in your ability to purchase their home. If you wind up in a multiple offer situation with other buyers that have pre-qualifications or nothing from a lender, your offer will look much stronger than the others.  

When you are ready to take the next step toward owning a home or purchasing  a new home, call me and I can connect you with a mortgage lender that will work with us to help you achieve that goal.  

Contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may, help you determine the value of your home or help you find your dream home.
 

Maureen Cool, CRS
RE/MAX Realty Plus


www.TheCoolTeam.com
Maureen@ACoolRealtor.com

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Maureen Cool is your ultimate real estate resource for Sebring, Avon Park and Lake Placid and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

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How Large Should the Down Payment on Your Home Be?

by Maureen Cool

If you are planning to buy a house, there is so much you will need to figure out before you start looking at homes and ultimately make an offer, sign a contract and close on your new home. Just one thing to consider is the amount of down payment you will make on the home you buy. Many people will tell you that you need a minimum of 20% of the purchase price of the home to put down before you even consider buying a home. While a 20% down payment is common, there are low down payment mortgages available meaning you may be able to put as little as 3 or 5% down and still qualify for a mortgage.  

There are some advantages to making a larger down payment on a home. When you have less than 20% equity in the home you purchase, you will be required to carry PMI (private mortgage insurance) and this can cut into your housing budget. This insurance will protect your lender should you default on your mortgage and offers no protection to you. It is paid as part of your mortgage payment so there isn’t a way to get around having it. The lender will remove this from your payment once you build a certain amount of equity in your home but that may take time and you can spend a good bit of money on PMI for years before you are able to stop paying it.  

A larger down payment will also look good to the lender if you have had credit problems in the past. Even if your credit issues were years in the past, lenders may be hesitant about approving you for a loan. A larger down payment can help that since you are committing a larger amount of money toward building equity in your home, which means you are less likely to miss a payment on your mortgage. If your home goes into foreclosure, the mortgage holder would receive any equity left in the home after it was sold meaning you would lose the money you made as a down payment plus any additional equity you built up making monthly mortgage payments. A 20% down payment just might be the difference you need to get the loan approval you want.  

Interest rates can vary and the lender might be willing to give you a slightly lower interest rate with a larger down payment. While the interest rate difference may only be as much as an eighth or quarter of a percent, when you are borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars, this can still provide significant savings over the life of your mortgage. The instant equity you have in your home with a larger down payment might also be beneficial if you were to need to borrow money in case of any emergency.  

What if you decide not to make a 20% down payment or you don’t have the savings for a down payment that large. Should you wait and save money for possibly years to be able to purchase a home? In today’s market, home prices are appreciating in almost all areas meaning a couple years of delay could cost you tens of thousands on the purchase price of a home if you have to wait several years to buy. Depending on where you live and the size of your family, you may also throw away thousands upon thousands of dollars on rent until you are able to save up enough money for a 20% down payment.  

There is not a right or wrong answer to this question. The best thing to do when deciding what is best for your situation is to talk with a mortgage professional or financial advisor to determine the best solution for you and how they can help you reach your goals.  

Contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may, help you determine the value of your home or help you find your dream home.
 

Maureen Cool, CRS
RE/MAX Realty Plus


www.TheCoolTeam.com
Maureen@ACoolRealtor.com

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Maureen Cool is your ultimate real estate resource for Sebring, Avon Park and Lake Placid and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

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3 Things to Do if You Plan to Purchase a Home Soon

by Maureen Cool

If buying a home is part of your plan for 2018, there are some simple things you can do before you really start home shopping. These items are not part of the formal home buying process but will ensure you are prepared when the time comes. 

1. Check your credit score. Even if you always pay everything on time, there may be something on your credit score you don’t know about. Don’t leave this to chance because it is a very important piece of the process if you will be getting a mortgage. When you check your credit report, review it for any errors or accounts you were unaware of. If you will be getting a joint mortgage with another person, make sure you check both of your credit reports. There may be something you forgot about from the past or even mistakes that you can get corrected if you know about them before the last minute. 

2. Find a professional real estate agent to look out for your best interests and guide you through the home buying process. People work with real estate agents for a variety of reasons. Maybe you drove by a house you liked and called the person on the sign, found someone when you were browsing online or have a friend that sells real estate. While none of these are the wrong way to find a real estate agent, they may not provide you with the best agent for you. Think about it this way, if you needed a cardiologist, would you just call the person on the sign or would you research your options and pick the one with the best experience and knowledge to help you with your condition? Real estate is no different. All agents aren’t created equal. A good way to find an agent is to talk with friends or coworkers and ask who they have used. If they were happy with their experience, call that agent and talk to them about your needs. Make sure they know the area you are interested in well and have the experience you need to help you should any problems arise. This is not a one size fits all business so make sure the agent you choose has the best approach for you. 

3. Start cleaning out stuff. If you are buying a new home, you will be moving soon and do you really need to move boxes of things that you will never use. If you are holding on to things that you don’t use anymore, now is the time to purge. This doesn’t mean you have to get rid of everything but if you are holding onto things you haven’t touched in years, let them go. 

Once you are ready to officially start your home search, there will be many more things you need to accomplish. The agent you select will guide you through this process so you can achieve your goal of purchasing a home in 2018.  

Contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may, help you determine the value of your home or help you find your dream home.
 

Maureen Cool, CRS
RE/MAX Realty Plus


www.TheCoolTeam.com
Maureen@ACoolRealtor.com

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Maureen Cool is your ultimate real estate resource for Sebring, Avon Park and Lake Placid and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

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2018 Real Estate Forecast

by Maureen Cool

Whether you plan to be actively engaged in the 2018 real estate market or not, knowing where the market is headed is important for almost everyone.  

With 2017 just wrapping up, exact numbers on the year aren’t available but overall 2017 showed strong numbers with home prices up around 6% over 2016 at the end of September and interest rates remaining low through year end 

As 2018 kicks off, expect to see positive growth continue in the real estate market in most areas. Home prices are still expected to rise in 2018 but at a slower rate than the last couple years. Mortgage rates are expected to rise as the year progresses and could possibly reach 5% by years end. If you do want to buy a home in 2018, the sooner the better to take advantage of the low rates that are still available.

Many people have wanted to buy homes in recent years but the inventory, especially in homes that traditionally appeal to first time homebuyers, hasn’t been available. This year should change that as we get to the end of the year. It may take until fall to see growth in inventory levels but by year end things should tip in that direction offering more homes in all price ranges as inventory shakes down across the board. 

Millennials were a huge portion of the 2017 homebuyers, almost 40% and will continue to play a significant role in 2018. They have established themselves career wise now and with the economy strong, many are well positioned to take on larger mortgages and not have to wait for the homes that typically appeal to first time homebuyers. 

New home construction will play a significant part in the inventory shift in 2018. Based on recent building permit applications, new home starts in the single-family sector of homes will likely see growth top 8% providing lots of new homes to the market in 2018. As new homes are available in all prices, inventory will open up across the board as homeowners move up or down to meet their needs and leave existing homes that will become available in larger numbers.

Most news tends to look positive but home affordability will take a hit if both home prices and mortgages rates rise as anticipated. While this isn’t welcome news, the anticipation of higher available inventory will give people options that weren’t available in 2017 and hopefully minimize the effects of this. 

Because of rising prices in recent years and continued growth expected, new home equity lines of credit are expected to soar as more than 60% of current homeowners are expected to have enough equity in their homes to qualify. 

No matter what your situation in 2018, overall news is positive. Even if you don’t buy or sell this year, having homes around you appreciate at a steady rate will keep the market strong for when you are ready for your next transition. 

Contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may, help you determine the value of your home or help you find your dream home.
 

Maureen Cool, CRS
RE/MAX Realty Plus

www.TheCoolTeam.com
Maureen@ACoolRealtor.com

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What You Should Know about HVAC Systems

by Maureen Cool

When it comes time to update your HVAC or install a new system in an old house without air conditioning, you need to understand a few basics about these systems. This information will help you know what kind of system you need and how to care for it.

Inspecting the System

You want to do a regular inspection on the unit to help it work more efficiently and last longer. You need to check and replace the filter as necessary. This often means once a quarter, less often in homes with little dust and more often in homes with pets and other contaminants.

Have the ductwork cleaned. Over time, it can get dirty, which will increase the amount of dirt that gets into the unit. This job needs to be taken care of about every two years.

Inspect the fan, belts and other components in the spring and fall. Notice any worn areas, loose belts or other parts that are showing wear or age.

Notice the area around the unit, paying attention to any water pooling from condensation. Mold can grow where there is continual dampness, so watch for standing water as part of your regular maintenance.

Upgrading

When your system gets old and stops working or needs repairs, it is a sign that it’s time for a new HVAC. You’ll want to make sure you get a system large enough to cool and heat your entire house. Look for one with a high-energy efficiency rating to help you save money.

Another consideration is if you will have to update your electrical or other systems. The old HVAC systems have been replaced by a more efficient model, but they require a few updates to older homes to make them compatible. This will be an additional cost over the price of the system.

It's a good idea to contact an HVAC installer to find out about your options and learn which system is best for you. If you’re installing the HVAC system for the first time in an older home that didn’t have central air, you’ll have additional expense with installation of the ductwork. However, this is one project that could add a lot of value to your home when you decide to sell because most people like to have central air to keep cool in the summer. Contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have and/or help you determine the value of your home.
 

Maureen Cool, CRS
RE/MAX Realty Plus

www.TheCoolTeam.com
Maureen@ACoolRealtor.com

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Maureen Cool  is your ultimate real estate resource for Sebring, Avon Park and Lake Placid and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

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Choose the Right Neighborhood for Your Home

by Maureen Cool

You may have heard it said that when it comes to buying a house, location means everything – or at least a lot. The perfect house will not feel perfect if it’s in the wrong neighborhood, and you can’t move a home to a new location. So, if you are looking for a house to buy, you should begin by selecting the right neighborhood.

Know What You Want

Before you begin comparing neighborhoods, consider what you want. Do you want to live in a quiet subdivision or do you prefer the bustling nightlife that comes from downtown? If you have kids, a nice park and cul-de-sac may be important. A young professional may want to be within walking distance of work or public transportation. Once you have the image of the ideal location, you can start searching for that neighborhood.

Visit the Neighborhoods

While you can do a lot of research online for a home, you can’t get a feel for the neighborhood until you visit. Drive through the area at different times of day. Notice how quiet it is during the day compared to the evenings or weekends. Notice the different people walking or spending time in their yards. These will be your neighbors.

Consider Future Value

Most people move at least once or twice in their adult lifetimes, so don’t think you’re going to live in your new home forever. Consider the neighborhood and whether it’s growing or dying. An area with new businesses moving in nearby will attract more homeowners. A neighborhood that is run down and falling apart will continue to lose value unless changes are made. Be careful of where you invest your money for the time when you decide to sell.

Discover What is Around You

Check out the local businesses. Visit that coffee shop one morning or eat dinner at the restaurant on the corner. Research the school and other businesses as well as crime statistics. This will help you determine if this is the kind of neighborhood you want to spend the next five to ten years or longer in.

Remember that your neighbors are like an extended family, and decide if that thought makes you smile or cringe. Take the time to pay close attention to where you plan to live.

In this real estate market, home buyers could use a helping hand. Contact me today for an appointment to discuss the property you’re looking for. I can guide you through the buying process and help you end up with your dream home.Contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about buying or selling a home.

Maureen Cool, CRS
RE/MAX Realty Plus

www.TheCoolTeam.com
Maureen@ACoolRealtor.com

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Maureen Cool is your ultimate real estate resource for Sebring, Avon Park and Lake Placid and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

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Four Ways Your Home Can Reduce Your Tax Obligation

by Maureen Cool

Owning a home comes with a variety of benefits, and the ability to reduce your overall tax debt is among them.  State and federal governments offer many tax incentives to homeowners, and your accountant will certainly be able to help you determine which ones you qualify for, but here are four of the most common home-ownership-related deductions you can use to reduce your tax debt.

Interest Payments

Deducting the interest you pay on your home mortgage is one of the oldest and most-commonly used methods to save money on your taxes. This method is especially effective during the early years – as most loan payment schedules are structured to be more interest heavy in the early years. You can deduct the interest payments on both your primary residence and secondary residence if your total loan amount is less than one million dollars and you itemize.

Mortgage Points

For tax purposes, mortgage points are a form of prepaid interest, and as such, can be deducted in full during the same year in which they were purchased. So, if you bought a home in 2016 and purchased points, you can deduct that entire amount on your 2016 tax return.

Points purchased when refinancing work differently. These points are deducted over the life of the loan. So, if you refinanced to a 30-year fixed, you can deduct 1/30th of your points each year for 30 years.

Property Tax

Property tax is tax deductible, but many people neglect to take this deduction because they rarely pay their property tax directly – it’s normally paid out of an escrow account. You can find the amount you paid in property tax by reviewing your annual statement sent to you by your lender each year.

Home Improvements

Home improvements are also tax deductible, but there is a caveat: The home improvements must add value to the home – routine maintenance does not qualify. So, if you have made or plan to make, capital improvements to your home like adding a deck, installing a new roof or redoing the kitchen, make sure to save your receipts; you’re going to need them come tax time.

These are just four areas that people normally can deduct from their taxes with little to no problems. There are more, but they can be a bit more complex and, normally, require the assistance of a tax professional to deduct correctly.

Photo courtesy of Sal Falko at Flickr.com.

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Photo of Maureen Cool, CRS, CIPS, RSPS Real Estate
Maureen Cool, CRS, CIPS, RSPS
RE/MAX Realty Plus
809 US 27 South
Sebring FL 33870
863-873-7243
Fax: 863-385-5897

Maureen Cool * RE/MAX Realty Plus
809 US 27 South, Sebring, Florida 33870
Office: 863-385-0077 X215
Direct: 863-873-7243
Fax: 863-385-5897

 
           


 

Maureen Cool of RE/MAX Realty Plus offers real estate services to buyers, sellers, relocation's in the Highlands County real estate area.

Including Polk County, Hardee County, Okeechobee County, Desota County and Glades County.


Whether you are looking for luxury, investment, second home, commercial, bank owned, foreclosures properties Maureen Cool and The Cool Team are your real estate professionals for the entire Central Florida area.
 

Maureen Cool is your Luxury Home Expert in Highlands County. 
She can assist you with your Sebring, Avon Park and Lake Placid real estate needs. 

 

 

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