Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chinowth & Cohen Participates in Food Drive

By World Special Publications Published: 12/20/2011 9:57 AM Last Modified: 12/20/2011 9:57 AM

Chinowth & Cohen Realtors donated boxes of collected goods as part of a food and fundraising drive to benefit the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.Oklahoma is the fifth-hungriest state in the nation, and it’s estimated that 600,000 people struggle with hunger every day. Oklahoma food banks serve more than 150,000 people each week, yet it is not enough to keep up with the increased demand.“We feel blessed as a company, and we want to be a blessing in our community, especially during the holiday season,” said Sheryl Chinowth, owner and CEO. “By collecting meals for families in Northeast Oklahoma, we’re doing our part in helping to make sure no one goes hungry.”Every year, Chinowth encourages the associates and staff in the company to get involved in the food drive by collecting non-perishable food items or making monetary donations to help the hungry.This column is prepared by the Advertising Department of the Tulsa World.
You may send an item of interest to Stefanie Forney, Box 1770, Tulsa, Okla. 74102-1770 or e-mail to
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tulsa-area employment outlook tied for 5th best in nation

By LAURIE WINSLOW World Staff Writer Published: 12/13/2011

The Tulsa area's employment outlook for the first quarter of 2012 is tied for fifth best in the nation, according to the latest results of the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey.

According to the quarterly survey, 13 percent of the companies interviewed plan to hire from January through March, while 2 percent expect to reduce staff. Another 78 percent expect to maintain their current work force levels, and 7 percent are uncertain of their hiring plans.
The area's net employment outlook of 11 percent - calculated by taking the percentage of employers anticipating an increase in hiring and subtracting the percentage expecting a decrease - was among the strongest in the nation.

Other metros with an 11 percent first-quarter net employment outlook that also ranked fifth best were Boston; Columbus, Ohio; Madison, Wis.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Worcester, Mass.
The metros with the best first-quarter employment outlook were Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., and Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla., each with a 17 percent net employment outlook.

The metros with the weakest outlook were Dayton, Ohio; Fresno, Calif.; and Spokane, Wash., all having a minus 4 percent net employment outlook.

Even though Tulsa's ranking in the Manpower survey is fifth best for the coming quarter compared to third best for the 2011 fourth quarter, the metro hasn't dropped back. It just means other areas are catching up, said Bob Ball, economic research manager for the Tulsa Metro Chamber.

The energy sector is driving Tulsa's growth along with manufacturing related to aerospace and construction, he said.

The Tulsa metro's unemployment rate inched up to 6.6 percent in October, the latest number available. Economists attributed the rising rate, however, to an improving economy as more people re-enter the labor force in hopes of finding work.

Local hiring activity is expected to drip during the first quarter compared to the current fourth quarter, when the net employment outlook was 13 percent, said Kelly Beyer, a branch manager for Manpower in Tulsa. A year ago, the net employment outlook was 12 percent.

Nationwide, of the more than 18,000 employers surveyed, 14 percent expect to add workers in the first quarter, and 9 percent expect a decline in their payrolls. Another 70 percent anticipate making no change to staff levels, and the remaining 7 percent are undecided about their hiring plans.

In demand For the coming quarter, job prospects appear best in the following areas.

Professional and business services
Leisure and hospitality
Other services.

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Home Sales Improve (Tulsa World)

Home Sales Improve

Almost 750 area homes were sold last month. But prices have dropped 9 percent in the last year.

By ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer Published: 12/13/2011

For the first time since January, total home sales this year have surpassed 2010 levels across the Tulsa area.

The Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors reports that 743 properties changed hands last month. That's down 24.1 percent from October but up 15.4 percent from November 2010.
Furthermore, the 11-month total this year reached 9,335, which was 0.46 percent above the 9,292 sales logged last year through November.

Metro Tulsa home prices, however, are significantly down from a year ago.
The year-to-date total of homes sold has trailed last year's number for most of 2011, falling behind by as much as 15 percent during June.

Pete Galbraith, president of GTAR, said he and other real estate professionals are encouraged by the increased sales, especially since it's happening after the effects of the first-time homebuyer tax credit, which expired in mid-2010, are long gone.
"It's been a slow and steady recovery, with no artificial stimulus to create transactions that might not have otherwise occurred," he said.

David Momper, a broker and owner of Re/Max Executives in Tulsa, said that while things have improved somewhat they still have quite a way to go.

"I still think people are being conservative with their spending and that they're sitting on scared money," he said.

He believes that extremely low interest rates and low home prices are helping the market.
In another positive sign, the number of homes that are under contract to sell is now at 833, or 33.5 percent ahead of the pending sales recorded a year ago.

Galbraith said he's seen signs of increased activity for December so far, even though sales typically slack off during winter.

"I've been absolutely surprised by the number of transactions we've been booking this month," he said. "I think people are starting to feel good again."

Although sales have been on the rise, prices took a significant hit. The average sales price of $138,801 is now 9.78 percent below November 2010, and the median price of $117,900 - the point at which half of the sales are greater than that figure and half are less - is down 8.78 percent.

Galbraith attributed the drop to a market that heavily favors buyers over sellers.
"People are still having to compete harder on price to get those homes sold, and they're having to sell them for less than they did a year ago," he said.

Momper said the low prices could stick around for a while.

"I think we'll see better sales in 2012, but we might see a little bit of a drop in pricing, depending on what happens with American Airlines and the election," he said. "Though any loss will be less than the national average."

The average home in the Tulsa area takes 64 days to sell.
There are now significantly fewer homes on the market, with 9,244 listed to sell, a decrease of 10.6 percent from a year ago.

If no more homes were listed for sale, it would take approximately 11.06 months to sell them all, compared to 12.28 months in November 2010.

Galbraith said the decrease in inventory is another sign that home sales are improving.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

14 Tips for Furnace and Fireplace Safety

14 tips for furnace and fireplace safetyBeware of the 'silent killer'
By Bill and Kevin BurnettInman News™

Q: Our house was built around 1940; the fireplace is original; and we installed forced-air gas heating about 10 years ago. We haven't had the fireplace or furnace inspected. What do you guys recommend to get the fireplace and the furnace ready for winter?
A: Regular inspection and servicing of fireplaces and furnaces adds to comfort, makes them more economical, and most important, keeps them safe. Regular inspections can prevent a deadly house fire or the introduction of a silent killer: carbon monoxide.
Here's our checklist to keep you cozy and safe during the winter months:
Wood-burning fireplaces
1. Inspection by a certified chimney sweep is a must. For heavy use, the chimney should be inspected and cleaned annually. Go up to five years if the fireplace is used only occasionally. The sweep should inspect for proper operation of the damper and for cracks in the flue liner, as well as sweeping the flue to remove creosote and other combustion byproducts.
2. Close the damper when the fireplace isn't in use.
3. Install a chimney cap if you don't already have one. You don't want creatures building their nest in your flue.
4. When starting a fire, "prime" the flue by holding lighted newspaper at the back wall of the firebox to start the warm air rising.
5. Burn aged, dry hardwood if possible. Fir or pine burns hot and deposits creosote in the chimney. Don't burn construction debris. It may contain toxic chemicals that will vaporize in the fire and could enter the living space.
6. Do not clean out the fireplace when the ashes are still hot. And dispose of the ashes in a place where wayward embers won't start a fire.
Fireplace with gas starter
1. If the flame goes out, wait at least five minutes before attempting to relight the fireplace. This allows time to clear the fireplace of gas.
2. Be alert for unusual odors or odd-colored flames, which are often a sign that the fireplace is not operating properly. In such cases, contact your dealer or licensed technician for servicing. Contact the gas company if you smell gas when the unit is off.
Gas furnace maintenance
1. An annual maintenance check of a gas furnace extends the life of the appliance and ferrets out any hidden problems. A qualified heating contractor should vacuum out the unit, inspect the blower motor, inspect the heat exchanger for cracks, check the electronics and perform a multipoint checklist to make sure the furnace is operating properly.
2. Clean or replace the furnace filter frequently during the heating season. This ensures that air returning from the inside of the house is unobstructed and clean when entering the combustion chamber.
3. Keep vents, space heaters and baseboards clear of furniture, rugs and drapes to allow free air movement.
4. Ensure there is free airflow around your furnace and make sure there are no storage items obstructing airflow.
5. Do not store or use combustible materials, such as chemicals, paint, rags, clothing, draperies, paper, cleaning products, gasoline, or flammable vapors and liquids in the vicinity of the furnace.
6. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and lethal gas that can occur any time there is incomplete combustion or poor venting. Any home that contains fuel-burning appliances, such as a fireplace or furnace, should have a carbon monoxide alarm installed according to the manufacturer's instructions.

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