by Broderick Perkins
(05/05/2010) Houselogic.com, the newest and perhaps most engaging portal for housing information is a unique compilation of interactive resources no homeowner should be without.
A National Association of Realtors' (NAR) project, HouseLogic hits the information nail on the head helping consumers plan and organize and make wise decisions about a host of homeownership issues, including home improvements, finances, taxes, insurance, even neighborhood issues, homeowner association life and green living.
The new site is so exhaustive in its socio-political-economic coverage of homeowner issues as well as down-to-earth news, it could been used to organize home owning consumers around socio-political-economic issues that affect them.
HouseLogic doesn't simply serve up information on a glossy user interface, though glossy and clean it is. Each menu offers current news and information in a way that engages the user in an interactive learning experience.
You can explore all you want without signing up, but to really dig deep and reap the site's full benefits, you'll need to sign up, sign in and get to work.
NAR promises not to use your information or share it unless you buy something from a third party, but as always, read the small print to be sure what can happen to your personal information.
Once you've signed up, begin by filling your "binder," your online workspace, with tasks and projects and all the information you can grab for later perusal and work. HouseLogic does some of the work for you, if, when signing up you let the site know of issues or concerns most important to you. You can also create you own custom tasks and projects not listed in HouseLogic's vast library.
The projects and tasks can be performed both "on paper," say, in a read-and-learn task, or in real life, say, a home improvement job.
Numerous existing projects, tasks and related information are available in different categories. Each category is under a different menu. The menus include, "Improve," "Maintain," "Engage," "Taxes & Incentives," "Finances & Insurance" and "News & Activity."
Each project typically comes with information you can read and learn, tasks to perform (real and on paper) and later a quiz to put your knowledge to work. You can also assign priorities and due dates for each project and tasks within the project.
Completed projects earn points and badges in different categories. While you can't cash them in they serve as reminders of your progress. Consider them bragging rights.
For example "Invest a Tax Refund in Your Home: $1,000 Projects" suggests ways you can invest a tax refund to save on energy costs, pay off your mortgage sooner, or add a community improvement. A short test grants you a few points and you're off.
The information, test and a report form (to report how much you saved if you actually made the investment) comes with more and less expensive tax refund investment ideas, a host of other related money saving and budgeting projects, a discussion area and other useful tools and gadgets.
Other projects with similar flourishes include creating an emergency kit, helping to expand waste recycling programs, adding electrical service to your studio or workshop, seasonal maintenance chores and tracking capital investments, to name just a few.
In addition to project-related information, also use your binder to store news stories, add checklists, leave yourself notes and dated reminders, reach out to your Facebook account and otherwise just get your house in order.
Unless you make it your life to work the site, you'll never run out of projects.
If you do, there's always the HouseLogic newsletter to help you get the most value out of your home, news alerts about national housing issues, news alerts targeting your local market and still more newsy podcasts.
A HouseLogic segment is also planned for Real Estate Today radio.
"We as Realtors are proud to offer this resource to consumers, because it's backed by industry insights of Realtors and it has information for consumers at different stages of the homeownership lifecycle," said Karl Lee, president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors."
"HouseLogic is unique in that it helps consumers view their home through a financial lens and make smart, informed home improvement decisions," he added.
HouseLogic is unique. It would be illogical not to bookmark it.
A feature of DeadlineNews.Com, "Site To See" reviews are occasional, but timely critiques of content-heavy real estate Web sites deemed unique, consumer-friendly, informative and easy to use.
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