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To Buy Or Not To Buy: Is Now The Time?

To Buy Or Not To Buy: Is Now The Time?

The US Census Bureau recently revealed that the US homeownership rate declined to 62.9%, the lowest level reported in 51 years of Census tracking.

This statistic does not signal impending doom. Since 2006, there has been a decline from peak ownership rates which is attributed in part to responsible lending practices and shifting demographic patterns. What is significant about this statistic is that it can give those intent on homeownership the false impression that they are fighting a losing battle.

If you’re on the non-homeowner side of this statistic, does this spell opportunity for you? With the economy and employment gaining strength, and predicted home-buying demographic shifts, homeownership may start an upward swing.

If you don’t own your own home, you know there are reasons why not. Since my work dictates I challenge the best to become better, I ask you, “How sure are you that those reasons are still valid or insurmountable?”

Repeatedly, when I speak to audiences about becoming their own futurist and creating strategies to achieve the future of their choice, I frequently meet people – individuals, couples, families, groups – who did not realize that their future could include homeownership.

Because they did not consider ownership a possibility, they gave up investigating, learning, strategizing, acting, and dreaming to make it happen. So it did not.

Ask any real estate or financial professional, and they won’t hesitate to tell you that home ownership is, rarely if ever, achieved by those who make no effort or take no action in that direction.

Any “short cuts” lie in understanding exactly what effort and action are required for the most direct path to ownership success. That’s what real estate professionals are trained to know all about. They understand how to relay that information to willing buyers and sellers.

Interview real estate professionals until you find one with the right mix of experience and determination to assist you with your ownership goals.

Listen and take notes or record when this professional explains your options and how to achieve your ownership goals. If you ask questions, you will also receive details about various ownership options, including cooperatives, condominiums, and other alternatives available in your area and price range. More questions and you’ll discover how the purchasing process works.

Consider the full range of neighborhoods and communities within your area. Prices tend to go down the further out you go from city center. With good public transit, moving to the suburbs may not require as many sacrifices as you might think.

If you’d like to own your own home, this may be the right time for action.

There are a number of ways to increase your purchasing power and bring real estate ownership within reach. The important thing is not to give up on making an effort before you have explored opportunities available to you in this real estate market:

Interest rates have not risen as dramatically as they are predicted to do in the future. Waiting until rates rise will limit the size of mortgage you qualify for. Mortgage brokers can explain how much you’ll qualify for and how you may be able to improve that level of financing. When you purchase, aim for the longest term you qualify for without seriously compromising purchasing power. That way you’ll have years at a rate you can afford while the mortgage debt is declining.

Debts can reduce the size of mortgage you qualify for, but financial professional advisers can suggest do-able debt-reduction strategies to improve borrowing power.The first step may be reducing the accumulation of new debt by ending discretionary spending like impulse shopping, eating out, and holiday travel.

The real estate you purchase may become a “financial partner” in achieving ownership. For instance, buying a one or two-unit rental income property may raise your qualifying income by some or all of the rent the rental unit or units would bring in. This financial leverage may also be possible in a non-rental property if you can prove you have boarders who will move in with you, pay rent, and share expenses.

Uncertainty abounds, but the economy continues to build momentum and job prospects continue to improve. Untapped income opportunities may exist. When was the last time you explored new employment and education opportunities with your current employer or within your community? Having a job that is “just enough” to keep you going can create inertia that defeats your belief that there’s more out there for you if you persist.

Realtytimes.com contains a rich library of articles to answer your questions and help you explore alternatives. Below are a few from my ongoing column “Decisions & Communities” that reveal the range of opportunities available to those on the path to homeownership:

As you research ownership ideas and opportunities, stay skeptical. Ask for details and persist until you understand exactly what you and others involved will be responsible for. Beware of anyone promising overnight success or cheaper-than-believable housing. Stick with professionals who have verifiable credentials and proven expertise.

Since the downturn, you’ve had years to consider homeownership. Is it time for action before rising interest rates and increasing demographic demand move real estate ownership further out of reach?

To Do Lists Are Evil?

To Do Lists Are Evil?

Some days the to-do list seems bottomless. Just looking at it is exhausting.

We all want to know how to stop being lazy and get more done. I certainly wanted the answer.

So after some research I came across this article of someone who is insanely productive which was first posted in Time.com

Cal Newport impresses the heck out of me. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked. He’s insanelyproductive:productivity

  1. He has a full-time job as a professor at Georgetown University, teaching classes and meeting with students.
  2. He writes 6 (or more) peer-reviewed academic journal papers per year.
  3. He’s the author of 4 books including the wonderful “So Good They Can’t Ignore You.” And he’s at work on a fifth.
  4. He’s married with a young child and handles all the responsibilities that come with being a husband and dad.
  5. He blogs regularly about productivity and expert performance.

And yet he finishes work at 5:30PM every day and rarely works weekends.

No, he does not have superpowers or a staff of 15. Okay, let’s you and I both stop being jealous of his productivity for a second and learn something.

Below you’ll get Cal’s secrets on how you can better manage your time, stop being lazy, get more done — and be finished by 5:30. Let’s get to work.

1) To-Do Lists Are Evil. Schedule Everything.

To-do lists by themselves are useless. They’re just the first step. You have to assign them time on your schedule. Why?

It makes you be realistic about what you can get done. It allows you to do tasks when it’s efficient, not just because it’s #4.

Until it’s on your calendar and assigned an hour, it’s just a list of wishful thinking.

Here’s Cal:

Scheduling forces you to confront the reality of how much time you actually have and how long things will take. Now that you look at the whole picture you’re able to get something productive out of every free hour you have in your workday. You not only squeeze more work in but you’re able to put work into places where you can do it best.

Experts agree that if you don’t consider how long things take, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

I can hear what some of you are thinking: But I get interrupted. Things get thrown at me last minute.

Great — build that into your schedule. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Things will change. But you need to have a plan, otherwise you’ll waste time.

Want to stop procrastinating? Schedule. Here’s Cal:

Assigning work to times reduces the urge to procrastinate. You are no longer deciding whether or not to work during a given period; the decision is already made.

Does this sound too mechanical? Overly structured and not much fun? Wrong.

Research shows that it’s even a good idea to schedule what you do with your free time. It increases quality of life:

This study was designed to identify the relationship between free time management and quality of life, exploring whether the amount of free time or the way people using their free time relates to their quality of life… The result has found a positive relationship between free time management and quality of life.

(For more on the schedule the most productive people use, click here.)

Okay, the to-do list is in the trash and things are going on the calendar. How do you prioritize so you’re not at work forever?

2) Assume You’re Going Home at 5:30, Then Plan Your Day Backwards

Work will fill the space it’s given. Give it 24/7 and guess what happens?

You need boundaries if you want work/life balance. But this also helps you work better because it forces you to be efficient.

By setting a deadline of 5:30 and then scheduling tasks you can get control over that hurricane of duties.

Cal calls it “fixed schedule productivity”:

Fix your ideal schedule, then work backwards to make everything fit — ruthlessly culling obligations, turning people down, becoming hard to reach, and shedding marginally useful tasks along the way. My experience in trying to make that fixed schedule a reality forces any number of really smart and useful in-the-moment productivity decisions.

What does research say prevents you from getting burned out at work? Feeling in control of your schedule.

Anything that increases your perception of control over a situation — whether it actually increases your control or not — can decrease your stress level.

Via Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long:

Over and over, scientists see that the perception of control over a stressor alters the stressor’s impact.

(For more on how to achieve work/life balance, click here.)

You’ve drawn a line in the sand and worked backward, giving all your tasks hours in your day. But how do you handle longer term projects?

3) Make A Plan For The Entire Week

I think you’ll agree that the last thing this world needs is more short term thinking.

You’ll never get ahead of the game by only looking at today and never thinking about tomorrow.

How do you write books, teach classes, meet with students, do research papers and be a good parent consistently? Plan the week.

Here’s Cal:

People don’t look at the larger picture with their time and schedule. I know each day what I’m doing with each hour of the day. I know each week what I’m doing with each day of the week and I know each month what I’m doing with each week of the month.

Are you rolling your eyes? Does this sound overbearing? It’s simpler than you think. What’s really necessary?

Just one hour every Monday morning. Here’s Cal:

Every Monday I lay out a plan for the week. I go through my inbox, I go through my task list, I go through my calendar and try to come away with the best thing to do with each day this week. I write it in an email and I send it to myself and leave it in my inbox because that’s a place I know I will see it every day and I’ll be reminded of it multiple times throughout the day.

And he’s right. Research shows you spend your time more wisely when you follow a plan.

Via What the Most Successful People Do at Work: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Career:

Preliminary analysis from CEOs in India found that a firm’s sales increased as the CEO worked more hours. But more intriguingly, the correlation between CEO time use and output was driven entirely by hours spent in planned activities. Planning doesn’t have to mean that the hours are spent in meetings, though meetings with employees were correlated with higher sales; it’s just that CEO time is a limited and valuable resource, and planning how it should be allocated increases the chances that it’s spent in productive ways.

Maybe you think it’s enough to run down the week’s duties in your head. Nope.

Studies show writing things down makes you more likely to follow through.

(For more on how the most productive people get things done, click here.)

So you’ve got a fixed schedule and a weekly plan — but the math doesn’t add up. There’s just too much stuff. Cal has an answer for that too.

4) Do Very Few Things, But Be Awesome At Them

Maybe you’re thinking: I just have too many things to do. I could never get it all done in that amount of time.

And Cal concedes that you might be right. But the answer isn’t throwing up your arms and working until 10PM.

You need to do fewer things. Everything is not essential. You say “yes” to more than you need to.

Ask “What’s creating real value in my life?” And theneliminate as much of the rest as you can.

Here’s Cal:

You’re judged on what you do best so if you want to have as much success as possible you’re always better off doing fewer things but doing those things better. People say yes to too much. I say no to most things. I’m ruthless about avoiding or purging tasks if I realize they’re just not providing much value.

You feel like you have no time but John Robinson, the leading researcher on time use, disagrees. We may have more free time than ever.

Via Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time:

He insists that although most Americans feel they’re working harder than ever, they aren’t. The time diaries he studies show that average hours on the job, not only in the United States but also around the globe, have actually been holding steady or going down in the last forty years. Everybody, he says, has more time for leisure.

So what gives? It feels like you have no time because it’s so fragmented with little annoying tasks that drain the life out of you.

So do less. And be amazing at those things.

(For more on what the most successful people do, click here.)

Your plans are in order and by doing less, it all fits on the schedule. But one question remains: what exactly should you be doing with your time?

5) Less Shallow Work, Focus On The Deep Stuff

All work is not created equal. Cal says knowledge workers deal with two fundamentally different types of work, Shallow and Deep:

Shallow work is little stuff like email, meetings, moving information around. Things that are not really using your talents. Deep work pushes your current abilities to their limits. It produces high value results and improves your skills.

And what’s the problem? Most of us are “drowning in the shallows”:

People who are the most busy often are getting a lot less done of significance than the people who are able to stop by 5PM every day. That’s because the whole reason they need to work at night and on the weekends is because their work life has become full of just shallows. They’re responding to messages, moving information around and being a human network router. These things are very time consuming and very low value.

Nobody in the history of the universe ever became CEO because they responded to more email or went to more meetings. No way, Bubba.

Cal has it right: Shallow work stops you from getting fired — but deep work is what gets you promoted.

Give yourself big blocks of uninterrupted time to make things of value. What’s the best first step?

Stop checking email first thing in the morning. Tim Ferriss, author of the international bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek, explains:

…whenever possible, do not check email for the first hour or two of the day. It’s difficult for some people to imagine. “How can I do that? I need to check email to get the information I need to work on my most important one or two to-dos?”

You would be surprised how often that is not the case. You might need to get into your email to finish 100% of your most important to-dos. But can you get 80 or 90% done before you go into Gmail and have your rat brain explode with freak-out, dopamine excitement and cortisol panic? Yes.

(For more on how to motivate yourself, click here.)

So how do we tie all this together?

Sum Up

Cal’s five big tips:

  1. To-Do Lists Are Evil. Schedule Everything.
  2. Assume You’re Going Home at 5:30, Then Plan Your Day Backwards
  3. Make A Plan For The Entire Week
  4. Do Very Few Things, But Be Awesome At Them
  5. Less Shallow Work, Focus On The Deep Stuff823

Schedules and plans sound cold and clinical but the end result couldn’t be farther from that.

You’ll be less stressed, create more time for friends and family, and make things you can be proud of.

Here’s Cal:

Knowledge work is really just craftsmanship. It’s just that what you’re crafting is information and not carved wood. You’re crafting ideas. You’re crafting knowledge out of raw material and the more you think about it like a craftsman, the happier and more satisfied you’ll be, not to mention more successful.

The offices of the world could use a few less cubicle drones and a few more proud craftsmen.

Do You Know the Real Cost of Renting vs. Buying? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Do You Know the Real Cost of Renting vs. Buying? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Historically, the choice between renting or buying a home has been a close decision.
  • Looking at the percentage of income needed to rent a median-priced home today (30%), vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (15%), the choice becomes obvious.
  • Every market is different. Before you renew your lease again, find out if you could use your housing costs to own a home of your own!

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Maui Ocean Center Welcomes 5 Blacktip Shark Pups

Maui Ocean Center Welcomes 5 Blacktip Shark Pups

Five blacktip reef shark pups have recently became a part of the marine life at Maui Ocean Center.

At approximately two feet in length, the pups will reside in the Deep Reef exhibit for about a year before they’re released as juveniles back into the ocean.  Upon arrival, the pups received a blessing.

A team of aquarists lead by Head Curator John Gorman observed the sharks throughout their quarantine process to ensure they remain in optimal health.  Gorman said the sharks have successfully acclimated to their new environment.

Blacktip reef sharks are opportunistic feeders, scavenging the ocean floor for crustaceans, squid, octopus, and bony fish.

Aquarists at the Maui Ocean Center say the species gathers nearshore during the summer months to establish pup nurseries where shallow waters help to protect the pups from larger ocean predators.

The Maui Ocean Center is currently home to nearly 20 sharks and 5 species.

 

Be Inspired X 10

Be Inspired X 10

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

may16-004

Sometimes you just need a dose of confidence or a boost in your motivation. Selling and buying real estate is hard. But if it is something that you love, you can’t imagine doing anything else. Still, few things can recharge your passion like a good inspiring real estate quote so we found 10 of them to keep you inspired.

10 Inspirational Real Estate Quotes

#1: “To be successful in real estate, you must always and consistently put your clients’ best interests first. When you do, your personal needs will be realized beyond your greatest expectations.” – Anthony Hitt

The best real estate agents in the business have a knack for anticipating their clients’ needs and matching those needs with the right piece of real estate. When you put your clients’ interests first, you will succeed in real estate.

#2: “Real estate is my life. It is my day job, if you will. But it consumes my nights and weekends, too.” –Ivanka Trump

Unlike most other jobs, real estate really has no set hours. You are working around the clock most days but because you love it, you don’t mind. Still, take time to recharge so that you don’t burn out.

#3: “Real estate is an imperishable asset, ever increasing in value. It is the most solid security that human ingenuity has devised. It is the basis of all security and about the only indestructible security.” – Russell Sage

Even at the height of the housing collapse, people were snatching up distressed properties and trying to turn lemons into lemonade. Real estate is an imperishable asset in times of prosperity and times of financial distress. There are always people looking for it.

#4: “The problem with real estate is that it’s local. You have to understand the local market.” – Robert Kiyosaki

Now more than ever, localizing your market is the key to building a solid real estate business. Yourwebsite content as a local expert goes a long way to showing off your local expertise. For everything real estate, start local.

#5: “I think if people are passionate about something, it could be real estate or biochemistry, and that spark gets turned on in them, everyone’s beautiful in that zone.” – Cindy Crawford

A person in love has a glow just like an expectant mother does. When you love what you do, it shows in your face, in your smile, in your demeanor. The most passionate real estate agents tend to be the most successful and attitude is at least 50% of that success.

#6: “Commercial real estate always trails residential, and as residential growth flourishes, shopping centers flourish and service the communities, and jobs come out.” – Johnny Isakson

As a residential real estate agent, you are an integral part of the success of a city or community. When you bring in families, businesses come in to serve those families. You are a crucial part of the circle of life.

#7: “You must learn that selling is not selling; it is providing and the key to providing is knowing in advance what to provide.” – Todd Duncan

Again, meeting your client’s needs will go a long way to securing your success in the real estate business.

#8: “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” – Albert Schweitzer

Money can’t buy you love or happiness. Making a lot of money is not the definition of success. You can have a billion dollars in your bank account and be miserable. Do what you love and happiness is sure to follow.

#9: “In real estate, you make 10% of your money because you’re a genius and 90% because you catch a great wave.” – Jeff Greene

Part of being the best real estate agent is knowing your market. Still, having a little bit of luck doesn’t hurt either.

#10: “Real estate is the best investment in the world because it is the only thing they’re not making anymore.” – Will Rogers

Good News to Keep You Inspired

We hope you really enjoyed those quotes. Hopefully you can come back to this piece throughout the year to re-inspire yourself or better yet, memorize them so that you will always have them within you as a source of inspiration.

 

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