Category Archive : Real Estate

What’s next for real estate?

For most people, real estate remains a critical part of personal net worth. Despite the stock market rally, the average US family’s net worth is down 25% due to declines in real estate values ​​and investment assets.

Market Trends Overview – Focus on Boston

While still suffering from ongoing turmoil in the Financial Services, Insurance, Real Estate (FIRE) anchor employment areas, there have been signs of stability in and near major metropolitan areas like Boston. Although the employment outlook remains bleak, the Boston Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) showed the biggest gains in property values ​​during 2009 according to a report recently released by Zillow Real Estate Market Reports.

Even with strong gains aided by the federal government’s first-time homebuyer credit and continued low mortgage interest rates, there remains nearly 25% of households that are “upside down” on their outstanding mortgages.

High unemployment persists as companies continue to announce layoffs or delay hiring. And given the expected wave of creative mortgage products like Alt-A loans, interest-only loans, and “payment election” adjustable-rate mortgages that reset at higher rates, putting pressure on homeowners who can’t refinance due to Due to lack of employment or lack of value, there will probably be an increase in the number of foreclosures.

According to research reported by HousingPredictor.com, major US metropolitan areas likely won’t experience a housing boom until after 2020. With more than 7 million people unemployed and another 20 million listed as underemployed, 2017 may be or 2020. when these workers are absorbed. And real estate sales depend on those who have jobs.

Housing booms have typically occurred in seven- to 10-year cycles with some external trigger precipitating a crisis that burst the bubble. The current situation is unlikely to be any different.

Implications for investors

Apartment vacancy rates are expected to increase through 2010 to between 7% and 10%. The continuing collapse of trust in jobs makes it difficult to form households, as people may delay marriage or move back in with parents or relatives or double up with friends.

As foreclosures rise, there is likely to be more demand for replacement housing, so vacancy rates may decline. And as workers try to keep their options open to accommodate relocating job opportunities, demand for rentals is likely to rise as well. The caveat is that there will also likely be a variety of supply options that will put pressure on rents. And as a result of continued poor economic conditions, landlords can expect the credit quality of tenants to deteriorate.

Apartments will have to compete with a growing supply of single-family homes. Currently, single-family homes available for rent have ballooned to almost 10% compared to the long-term average of 4.5%. And a policy change by mortgage servicer Fannie Mae will allow renters who live in houses or apartments where the owners have been foreclosed on to no longer be evicted. This will likely mean that the largest owner of single-family rentals in the US will be a quasi-government entity.

Sales volume in the multifamily market is a long way off and likely to continue. Potential buyers continue to wait for prices to stabilize. There will continue to be an upward shift in cap rates of 1% to 2% approaching 2002 cap rates (8.2%), which will directly contribute to downward pressure on prices in the range of another 10% to 20%.

And given the stricter underwriting criteria, such as higher down payment requirements, the number of investors able to acquire a property is likely to be limited. But there will be opportunities for investors with capital and credit to buy when prices stabilize.

Understanding the market for apartments for sale and how to decide the type of property you would like to own in Colombo

Popularity of apartments for sale
With the growth of the economy in Sri Lanka, there has also been an increased focus on the real estate market within the island. Due to the increased concentration of development taking place closer to the capital city, Colombo, the demand for properties to buy or rent in the immediate vicinity has also increased. But these rapid developments and increased demand have also led to a shortage of free land available. Because the need to purchase homeownership must have a solution, many leading apartment builders have undertaken various projects to provide potential homeowners with viable solutions to choose from. This type of development is supported by statistics indicating that the entire western province covers only 6% of the land areas of the country, but about 28% of the population seeks to make their home in the area.

Since this trend has been on the rise for the last few years, you can now find many apartments for sale and also short-term rental apartments that can be chosen according to your requirements. There are also several good houses for sale available in nearby areas, but due to high prices they are not suitable for many interested buyers. In terms of apartments, there are two general categories namely luxury apartment projects and micro apartments available for your consideration.

Types of apartments for sale

Popularity of luxury apartment projects
In earlier times, real estate agents and property developers were more focused on offering detached homes for sale. But now, with the limitations highlighted above, these developers have sought to offer those who want to purchase housing units the option of choosing between luxury apartments. It has been found that the demand to buy apartments that fall into the luxury category comes from the Sri Lankan community as well as foreigners. Such investments made in connection with owned properties in the Colombo area have also shown a huge increase in popularity. According to statistics compiled up to 2015, there have been close to 2,600+ luxury apartment units and it is further estimated that this number could reach close to 6,000 units by 2019. These luxury units are also available for those who wish to rent an apartment. , leading to more and more apartments being offered for short-term rental.

Potential for Micro Apartments in Sri Lanka
Another alternative to houses for sale is the availability of real estate in the form of micro apartments. Many apartment builders have also invested in these types of projects which have been in great demand among those who want to buy an apartment in Colombo. The target market for this type of property has actually found it attractive among wealthy clients who might even want a luxury apartment, as well as middle-income individuals who want to invest in such a home for themselves. Similar to the previous category, these types of housing solutions are also available as short-term rental apartments for those who are unable to purchase housing units by making an outright purchase and are therefore looking to rent an apartment instead. This opens up the possibility for more home seekers to come closer to their dream of owning a home in a prime location in the city.

Choosing between apartments and houses for sale
When you consider purchasing such properties, you must be prepared to make the investment. The main decision you have to make would be in relation to whether you really want to buy an apartment space or if you still want to buy a house in the form of a separate house. As the main consideration when you invest in real estate, you must decide on the space or size of the house. Normally, houses in Sri Lanka tend to cover around 2,700 square feet, while an apartment would generally be in the 1,000 to 1,500 square foot range. In addition, apartments tend to offer additional services such as security, cleaning, garbage disposal, and other recreational facilities that are not normally available with separate housing units. But on the other hand, you may want to consider the following that are not normally available with apartments.

  • When you buy apartments, you will get a limited parking space
  • Changes are not possible
  • Most apartment complexes have pet restrictions
  • Your ability to engage in gardening activities is minimal

Considering when to rent an apartment

Due to the various requirements of homeowners, there are several other options available in terms of being able to rent an apartment. Many people who would be looking to live in small spaces for short periods of time may want to consider finding apartments for short-term rental. Since there is a large part of the population that needs to find accommodation for commuting and other arrangements in the city limits, this has become a financially viable option that many prefer. Depending on the requirement, it could even arrange to extend the rental period once agreed with the tenant. This is also a great way to check if you can adjust to apartment-style living. If the lifestyle appeals to you, eventually you might also consider owning an apartment of your own.

To meet much of the demand for wanting to buy apartment properties, there have been various investors and developers who have become interested in developing projects that are in demand for this market. Amongst these companies are several renowned apartment builders operating on the island who have produced several leading apartment projects and have several others lined up as future projects.

Now that tax season is over, did you have to pay taxes instead of getting a refund? You’re definitely not alone, and there will likely be a repeat performance next year.

There are several things you can do to increase your chances of getting a refund, and you don’t have to be a tax accountant to take advantage of these deductions. The key is to start planning now and not wait until the end of the year. Below is a list of what you need to do.

Contribute to a 401K or IRA

Most people think that the only reason to contribute to a retirement fund is to ensure financial independence as you age, but it can also have short-term tax benefits. Most of the time, the money you put into your 401K and IRA is tax deductible and not included in your taxable income.

Donate to a charity

Charitable donations or volunteer-related expenses can be itemized and deducted from your income at tax time. Just remember to save all receipts and keep track of all the miles you travel on behalf of a charity or the organization you volunteer for. These miles will be deductible at 14 cents per mile for 2018.

Buy a primary residence

There is a clear tax benefit to owning a home. The interest you pay on your mortgage is tax deductible. For the first few years, your mortgage payments go toward interest, which will dramatically lower your adjusted gross income at tax time. Think about paying the mortgage payment for January 2019 in December to obtain the maximum tax benefit in April.

Invest in Solar Energy

If you’re making a home improvement list, consider adding solar panels to that list. Solar will earn homeowners up to 30% of their installation costs in tax credits. I would hurry because those credits will decrease after 2019.

Claim Education Credits

Student loan interest and/or tuition can be used as a tax deduction. Current students can also access the American Opportunity Credit, which covers up to $2,500 a year for four years, and the Lifetime Learning Credit, which can cover up to $2,000 per tax return.

start a home business

Starting and maintaining a home business will give you a new source of income, but more importantly, it will allow you to deduct all income generated by the business. These specific deductions can include business expenses, portions of your mortgage, utilities, repairs, and even start-up business costs.

Medical or Dental Expenses

Many of your medical and dental expenses are tax deductible, as are transportation and parking costs.

Open a flexible spending plan

Many employers offer flexible spending plans that will allow their employees to contribute to their annual medical expenses. These medical contributions generally do not count toward taxable income.

Job search

If you find yourself on the hunt for a new job next year, remember that you can write off some of the expenses associated with searching for a new job. These cancellations include clothing, travel, food, etc. And these expenses are deductible even if no employment is found within the tax year.

Make estimated payments

As they say, the best defense is a good offense. If you are concerned that your deductions may not adequately cover you during the tax year, it will be to your advantage to make quarterly payments that you and your tax accountant believe will cover your income that is not subject to withholding tax.

start a family

Child tax credits are still included in the new tax reform bill. In fact, they have increased from $1,000 per child to $2,000.

Find all available tax credits

We have mentioned many tax credits in this article, but there are many more that can be used. Some of these include child care costs for low-income households and adoption. Keep in mind that tax credits are more valuable than simple deductions because they can lower your taxable income dollar for dollar.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which was signed into law in December, provided a major overhaul of the previous tax law. This law will affect your tax planning for 2018, so it will be important to have a professional do your taxes. No matter how much you think you know or how much you research, a professional will be able to identify those tax deductions and credits that will be beneficial to you. A professional will also help you stay organized and minimize your tax liability.

Remember, be a smart taxpayer and learn how to make money on your taxes.

Lately, I’ve been listening to a certain radio ad bombing the New York subway news station that I enjoy listening to. The reason I like this station is simple: it’s smart, it’s interesting, and it carries John Sterling/Susan Waldman Yankee commentary during the games of the season.

However, this particular radio ad strikes me as so full of misleading marketing language that it gives me goosebumps every time it plays. Not only does it give my profession a bad name, but I may be tricking thousands of resourceful consumers into signing up and becoming victims of what I almost consider to be fraud. But, too cleverly manipulative for that, he probably can’t even be found guilty of deceit, since all the statements made are true. But it is definitely misleading unsuspecting listeners to interpret these “true” statements as a good reason to respond to the ad and commit to the advertised service, only to later discover the naivete of their gullible decision to do so.

Let me explain: The ad starts out as an overbearing ad that claims it can save American car owners thousands of dollars in auto repair bills. As long as you have less than 200,000 miles on your car (like most people), you’ll never have to pay a repair bill out of pocket again! The advertiser will pay for you. If you’re sick and tired of spending your hard-earned money on car repairs, call to see if you qualify! (This places the onus on you to prove that you are one of the eligible owners of a car with less than 200,000 miles who can take advantage of this scam to trick you into buying.)

You can even keep your own mechanic or auto repair service and have the advertiser pay the bills for you. This includes all of the most advanced auto tech repairs you could ever need! (Again, they say this to throw you off course, so think about what kinds of repairs your car may need now or in the future and whether you’ll qualify.) So far, everything they’ve said with the possible exception of “saving you thousands of dollars” has been true. That is until you read between the lines.

No, you won’t be spending your hard-earned money on your car repair bill. Instead, you will spend your hard-earned money to pay them a fee to represent you and pay your car repair bill for you. And while they claim you can save a lot of money, you may actually be paying more if you make them a middleman. After all, they are in business to make money. They won’t do this for nothing. And how can they be paying for these expensive radio ads on such a powerful New York station? Just through the responses of hundreds of unsuspecting customers signing up en masse.

So what do you get from this? Maybe a lot of trouble if you sign a contract and don’t pay your fee, and who knows what else! They probably make it seem like they’re giving you a great service by guaranteeing they’ll pay for your car repair on your old clunker (with less than 200,000 miles), allowing you to keep driving and hopefully going to work (if you still have a job) while they wait for you to cover the (possibly late) bill with interest.

I’m guessing at all the finer details, but you can see the risks I’m pointing out. I remember hearing about a similar fraudulent attempt by another car payment company in the past few years that was distributed through the mail. I later received a series of telemarketing calls about it. Now, I’m hearing this ad from a different company on the radio. Could it be the same organization operating under a different name? And ironically, as soon as I recognized it, suddenly I don’t listen to it anymore, which may also be part of their formula: run it for a short time to rack up new customers and then disappear into thin air, so to speak. These are the kind of questions I ask, as I’m naturally suspicious of marketing claims that raise these kinds of red flags.

The concept is much like the service a credit card offers: You pay with plastic, then pay the credit card company with interest for their generosity in allowing you to pay over time. But we all know the enormous risk that implies, as a nation and as a world, insoluble economic problems wherever you look at it! If you’re one of the unlucky people who’s lost the privilege of using some or all of your credit cards, this car repair payment service ad may sound quite appealing, especially if old Bertha is making horrible noises and putting on jeopardize your journey. But I urge you to tread carefully and carry a big stick.

So what exactly are the laws regarding false advertising? According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection, there are three attributes that determine whether an ad is false or unfair:

1. If it offends public order;
2. If it is immoral, unethical, oppressive or unscrupulous; Prayed,
3. if it substantially harms consumers.

This last point is considered the most important when weighing whether the advertisement is false or disloyal, since the damage to the customer is usually based on the loss of money as a result of a purchase that would never have been made if the advertisement had not been misleading in the first place. False statements are determined by whether they are false on their face; or if they are implicitly false. In my opinion, the above radio ad may be making a blatantly false claim that it can save you huge sums of money if you use their service. However, with a clever twist of interpretation, that statement could be held true if they attribute their savings to payments made directly to auto repair providers.

If you’re not paying your mechanic directly for your car repairs, you are essentially saving that money. However, you will need to use that “saved” money to pay the auto repair payment company that will pay your mechanic for you, regardless of how misleadingly they are advertising their service. Does this seem ethical to you? Also, I think the ad says “can save you” instead of “will save you”, implying that there may be other conditions involved that you need to meet to ensure your claim is honored as stated.

Based on the complaints the FTC receives, some consistent themes emerge, most often about undisclosed costs and conditions. Responsible radio advertisers avoid legal trouble by simply adding a statement like “Restrictions may apply”, while some overzealous advertisers spend a good percentage of the radio ad’s time explaining in detail a long rant of disclosures delivered at speed, which makes it virtually impossible to understand what is being said. Depending on the space available, the FTC advises advertisers using visual media to disclose details “clearly and conspicuously.” If space is limited, perhaps the 3-word disclaimer mentioned above might suffice, but the small type and deliberately ambiguous terminology are frowned upon.

What the FTC allows or regulates appears to be a somewhat gray area with decisions depending on whether the ad is national or regional in scope; if you represent an industry regulated by another branch of government (such as airlines, banks, insurance companies, public transportation companies, and companies that sell securities and commodities); or if it can be resolved by some other more local agency like the Better Business Bureau. As stated above, the most important thing for the FTC seems to be issues related to harm to the consumer, whether to “health, safety, or wallet.”

Penalties for non-compliance can be severe, ranging from a simple “cease and desist” order which, if not properly obeyed, amounts to as much as $16,000 per day for additional violations; to fines reaching millions of dollars where applicable, sometimes requiring refunds to consumers affected by the offending ad; to post new ads and contact customers to correct previously misleading information.

If an advertisement has harmed you in any way as a result of deceptive practices, you have the right to file a complaint with the FTC and contact an attorney. If the offending ad is broad enough, your case may be considered suitable for a class action lawsuit, involving many plaintiffs other than yourself. Keep in mind, however, that no matter how noble your attorneys’ representation may seem in such cases, it is generally the attorneys who stand to gain the most in class action lawsuits.

What if you think a competitor’s ad is misleading? You have a few options, some or all of which you can follow:

1. You can contact an attorney to explore whether you should sue for unfair competition by making misleading claims in advertisements.

2. You may file a complaint with the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, which investigates and resolves such disputes both nationally and regionally.

3. If the ad is local, you can contact your local Better Business Bureau to file a complaint.

4. You may contact the print or broadcast outlet where the advertisement was published to report your suspicion of the misleading nature of the advertisement.

5. You can contact your state Attorney General’s Office or your city, county, or state Office of Consumer Affairs to report the problem.

6. Finally, you may contact the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Response Center, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580; or call: toll-free 1-877-FTC-HELP.

As a piece of advice from a marketing expert, if you are an advertiser using vagueness, or worse yet, duplicity, to camouflage the full truth of your message, keep this in mind:

“The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” -Benjamin Franklin

Translation: An unhappy customer will share their unpleasant experience not only with their friends and family, but will also spread bad words about you on blogs, forums, and chat rooms, giving your business a negative reputation it can never live on . today’s Google-dominated universe. If your publicity mischief was unintentional, it will be far less expensive to try to win back the loyalty of a dissatisfied customer with a valid complaint than it will be to weather the devastating winter of their discontent.

Being so close to Halloween, I thought I would write the scariest article for real estate investors and real estate agents that I could think of. iBuyers are the zombies that devour your opportunities. They are killing growth and killing dreams!!

Let’s start with what an iBuyer is and what they do, and what we as agents and investors need to do to adjust to this new standard. The iBuyer is an instant buyer. They use technology to value the property and determine an offer price instantly. The property owner will call the company and have a cash offer on his house the same day. This sounds great to the seller and scary to brokers and investors, but let’s dig a little deeper. Of the large iBuying companies, all will require an inspection after hiring a home to determine what repairs are needed. From there, they require repairs to be made or change their offer price. The offer is always below market value and there are usually fees associated with the process. Fees vary from iBuyer to iBuyer and marketplace to marketplace, but tend to range from 6% to 10%. The three largest iBuyers are Opendoor, Offerpad, and Zillow. Redfin has also reached the market.

So what do real estate agents do?

It seems that iBuyers and agents can work closely together, and the rise of this trend will actually help agents adapt and take advantage. Here are two ways:

Referral rate: Most iBuyers will pay a referral fee. According to the Opendoor website, they want to pay agents a 1% fee if they bring in a customer. They also state that once the house is sold, the agent will get the buyer. According to the website, 87% of buyers prefer to use an agent when buying, so they won’t actually buy a home from an iBuyer. There are multiple agents who will work with buyers and get three or even four offers from iBuyers. They will work with the buyer through inspections and present all offers to the seller. The seller can then decide to work with an iBuyer or not. If they do, the agent will get their referral fee without much of the work that goes into a typical listing. These are one-way agents advertising “guaranteed deals” in their marketing.

listings: Zillow has been in the lead generation business for years. They produce thousands of leads who are referred to agents for a fee. This is your main income generator. Now that they are entering the iBuying space, they are also generating sales leads. From what I’ve read, Zillow only buys about 2% of the deals it does. With each offer made, they collect a significant amount of data from the seller. Because they collect so much data, the barrier to working with Zillow is quite high, meaning these are higher quality leads who can now sell to agents or refer them for a fee. I know many agents who would be happy to pay a lot for leads like these.

iBuyers are not a real threat to agents yet. In Phoenix, which is the most established market for iBuying, less than 6% of homes are sold using this strategy. That number is closer to 0.4% nationally.

What about investors?

I think iBuying is a bigger threat to investors than to agents. One of the biggest advantages investors have, or had, was their ability to make quick decisions and close houses quickly. iBuyers are capitalizing on this competitive advantage in a big way. There are, however, two advantages that investors have.

High price: Creative investors can pay a much higher price. Now, if you look at a strictly cash offer, investors may have a hard time competing, but what if the investor plans to hold the property for a longer term? They can usually finance those properties with favorable financing, which allows them to pay more than the iBuyer will pay with their fees. But it goes beyond that. Investors can also get creative and make offers to homeowners that involve payments over time, which increases what they can afford to pay for the home and can have huge returns for the seller. What if the seller doesn’t need or doesn’t want to take all the cash out of the house and prefers a higher monthly income or yield than they would get at the bank?

True Fix and Flips: There was a time when investors could easily find fix-up and flip opportunities where houses didn’t need a lot of work. They could fix up the house in a month for less than $20K and sell it for a huge profit. The market has already made these transactions difficult, but iBuyers will further reduce these opportunities. The opportunities that iBuyers will miss are major rehabs. All the great iBuyers want houses in good condition. In fact, their business model is to require repairs or lower their price based on repairs. And they won’t touch homes that need too much work. Those are the houses where the fixes and fins should go. If the house needs a lot of work, one strategy may be to encourage the seller to get an offer from an iBuyer so he can reinforce that he’ll need to work with someone willing to take the job. According to the Opendoor website, they do not compete with pinball machines. They have a fee-based model and they don’t want houses that need major repairs. It says so on their website!

Also, as a flipper, if you can find a way to add additional value, you can increase your bid, giving you the ability to pay more than an iBuyer. An example of this is if you can add square footage, a garage, or an accessory dwelling unit. These are things that an iBuyer would never consider in their evaluation.

Although iBuyers are absolutely a threat, you can see that the threat can be managed and can even help you grow your business. There are many things to be scared of during Halloween, but iBuyers shouldn’t be one of them.

Sometimes I hear of wives who begin to believe that their estranged husbands will never come home. They have often tried to wait patiently and be optimistic, but these things have not helped much.

I heard from one wife who said, “During the first few weeks of our separation, I tried very hard to hope that my husband would come home very soon. The hope was that he would miss me so much that he would cancel the rent in his new apartment and come back to me.” “But as the weeks turned into months I started to lose hope. I admit I’m having a hard time giving my husband space. I call and come in a lot. Some days he seems happy to see me and other days he makes excuses. and he doesn’t even interact with me he’s secretive about how he’s living his life or if he’s dating other people I’m at the point where I don’t think he’s coming back but when I tell him this he says I have no reason to believe him and I choose to see only the negative. I just can’t help it. I haven’t seen any sign that he has any immediate plans to return. So what’s a wife supposed to do when she realizes he’s not likely to return? I will say my feelings on this below.

First of all, I fully understand how this wife felt. I’ve been in this situation and I know how disgusting it can be when you get that sinking feeling that you could go on alone when he doesn’t come back. It is a terrible and desperate feeling. However, I must point out that this husband was telling the wife very directly that he was not indicating that he would never come home. He was just telling her that he needed more time. And the wife had openly admitted that she was not giving her husband the time he was asking for. Basically, she got close to him every day. She had never tried the strategy of backing off a bit to see if it would help the situation.

Personally, she didn’t think she necessarily had to give up just yet. There was nothing that said she couldn’t back off a bit and start living her life instead of putting it on hold. This did not mean that she was giving up on her marriage. It just would no longer mean that she was giving up on herself. I know that starting to live your life can sound overwhelming at times when you are apart. But, it actually makes you feel a little better most of the time. You feel like you are actively participating in life instead of desperately watching it go by. And, I’ll tell you something else. It’s a common thing for husbands to suddenly take a little interest in you when you’re not that strong. The thing is, they’re often so used to hearing or seeing you regularly that when you’re quiet for a while, they suddenly get curious. Suddenly they begin to wonder what the hell has changed.

I can’t promise this will happen every time, but I’ve seen it happen a few times. Often once you give him the space he has asked for, then the separation process can really begin. As he is getting his space and time to think, he will be able to freely evaluate what he really wants, what he is willing to contribute and he will have the opportunity to miss you.

I eventually came to see it like this. There was really no downside to getting up, dusting myself off and starting living my life. Of course, I was hoping that giving her space would help my marriage. But I told myself that even if it didn’t, it was time for me to start moving forward. It was not good for me to live in limbo without enjoying my life. I figured if I did come back, then it would be wonderful, but if I didn’t, well, then it was time for me to stand up anyway.

Over time, most women tire of waiting for someone else to dictate their future. You have the ability to decide how you want to live today and tomorrow. Do you really want to live it in misery and feeling like you’re on hold? I’m not implying that you should move on as if your marriage is over because you don’t know right now. What I’m saying is that it makes sense to stop living while you wait. You can live your best life while hoping for the best. And sometimes this will actually help encourage your husband to accept it because seeing that you respect yourself enough to live again will make him respect you more and this will make you more attractive to him.

I usually write and blog about time management. I’m realizing more and more that my effectiveness is tied to my energy level (I must be getting older), so now I’m thinking more about health and energy issues.

Being healthy and strong gives you the energy you need to get things done. The following are 13 fitness inspiration tips that I use:

1 – Exercise with a friend. For me this serves 4 purposes. I seem to lack time to keep up with my friends; this helps. Break the boredom. You can push me. And above all I will be there if I commit, since I do not want to disappoint anyone.

2 – I keep an online log and set goals for myself. For me, I break my workouts into 2.5K or 5K or 10K equivalents (roughly 12, 24, and 45 minute segments). I also keep track of my weights and number of reps etc. My goal is 2 -2.5K, 3 -5K and one 10K per week and 3 upper body which gives me 1 day off per week (my walks are just a bonus). I make a game out of it. Games are fun.

3 – I am definitely a big believer in cross training or doing different things. EG – I take Karate. Each lesson is an equivalent of 2.5K. I run, work out, cycle, stair treadmill, squash, etc. Mixing it up also eliminates boredom and is healthier. it gives the muscles time to heal.

4 – Sometimes I listen to a CD or an MP3 to break the boredom (although it may be bad to think that it is boredom). I often listen to audiobooks and I guess watching TV might work for some too.

5 – Make a bet with someone. This was my son’s idea who uses it successfully.

6 – It’s all about momentum. Once you start, you will move on. It takes 21 days to make a habit. At the same time, it’s one day at a time: don’t beat yourself up if you miss a few days.

7 – I like to work by objectives. I run a few 5, 10, 15K races and the occasional half marathon a year. Last year I went a little overboard and ran 3 marathons. I make it a game to improve my times. Preparing for a 5K or 10K in the future can be a great motivation. Your first goal is to finish on your feet.

8- Develop 4-minute exercise routines. I find that I don’t sweat enough to have to shower after a 4 minute workout. I find that they wake me up and make me more alert. It’s the little things that add up.

9 – Consider personal trainer. I’ve done this a couple of times. At a minimum, the gym you join will help show you the equipment and set up a schedule for you. Having that date and paying good money for it can get you out. Coaches also tend to push themselves harder than you do.

10 – People think I have great discipline. I don’t, I use tricks. I put my clothes in the car the night before, so it’s the path of least resistance to just throw on a sweat suit and go out and drive to the Y. Once I’m there, I work out. It is the unsuccessful clothes.

11 – I read continuously, I talk to people, I keep my spirits up. It always helps get me back on track.

12 – Do the smallest things. Park 4 spaces further from the door. Walk around while talking on the phone. Take the stairs 2 or 3 floors (in hotels I ask for a room on the 3rd floor and I always take the stairs – in a 3 day stay it can be 27 floors higher), etc. My office in Toronto is on the seventh floor. Why waste electricity for an elevator ride?

13 – I have a set of hand weights in the bedroom that I use to do a few reps every now and then before bed. I carry exercise bands (kind of like big elastic bands or tubes, available at any fitness store) to use when I travel.

This is your most important goal. Health trumps money any day. (IE – no health, who cares what you’re worth)

I often say that exercising doesn’t require extra time. If I exercise for 30 minutes, I am 15 minutes more productive and I can easily sleep 15 minutes less. Just do it (and please don’t sue me Nike)

I’ve been told that denial is one of the most powerful forces we fight against in life. Denial can keep us in the dark about a number of very powerful realities. One of those realities that I have had to deal with face to face lately is that the holidays are just around the corner; and no amount of denial from me or yours will keep them at bay.

This is not to say that I don’t like the Christmas season. In fact, I love the holidays! What I’m not so enamored with is the feeling of being hopelessly unprepared as we rush into this most festive time of year. Whether it’s hosting guests at my home, being a guest at other people’s homes, shopping, toasting, wrapping, or singing Christmas carols; I never seem to feel as prepared as I would like for all the added responsibilities that come with the season.

A few years ago, a friend shared with me her 3 steps to preparing your home for the perfect holiday season. She said that she had started following these simple steps a few years ago and that they had made a noticeable difference in how prepared she felt when her vacation roared into view.

So I have listed all three and am happy to share them with you. Let me know how much of a difference they make as you prepare for the happy season that is just around the corner.

3 simple steps to prepare your home for the holiday season:

1. Divide and conquer. Not every room in the house will be under the scrutiny of the holidays. Some rooms can (and should) remain off limits to guests. So lower your stress level by dividing your home into three zones. “A” rooms are the ones that all guests can wander into during their vacation. Included in this list are the living room, dining room, family room, kitchen, and powder room. “B” rooms are rooms that some guests may see, but won’t be front and center when the holiday bells start to ring. This includes children’s bedrooms, secondary bathrooms, and basement media or rec rooms. “C” rooms (such as the master bedroom and bathroom and a home office) are discretionary spaces that are open to the public only at the discretion of the host or hostess.

Instead of stressing over every room in the house, focus on the “A” spaces and leave some energy for the “B’s.” If you don’t get to the “C’s”, it’s much easier to slam a door than it is to completely freak out.

2. Edit, Edit, Edit. Once you’ve established your room hierarchy and are in the most important “A” space in your home, your next task is to edit anything you can live without. A useful rule of thumb is the Rule of 3. For any horizontal surface in a room (table, book shelf, mantelpiece) you are allowed exactly 3 decorative items (books always count as 1, regardless of how many are present). Your interior decorator may scream at this suggestion, but remember; the Christmas decorations have not yet been brought into the room. What may seem like a barren wasteland of a mantelpiece will soon be draped in holly, adorned with candles, and no doubt sprinkled with pine cones, berries, and bows. Get a clear, clean canvas on which to display your Christmas decorations to best effect.

3. Light your way to success. Remembering that many of the favorite elements of Christmas decoration include lighting (twinkling lights, candles…etc.), it’s time to add moderation to the overall lighting scheme of your room. Reduce the wattage of the bulbs in use in your chandeliers, sconces, table and floor lamps. For overhead lights, turn the dimmer to low and if you don’t have dimmers (and you really should), turn them off. Nothing will wash down a successfully decorated holiday room than having the lights on from the ceiling similar to those in a prison yard; washing up every bit of holiday delight. Use the ‘candlelight rule’ as a guide. If, when fully lit (including the Christmas decorations), the room has the glow of candlelight, then you have the lighting exactly where it wants to be.

As an architect, when designing new houses for clients, they first come to me with standard tastes that you would see in any house in any neighborhood. What I’m trying to do is expand their architectural vocabulary and be bold in what they’re trying to do, without spending a lot more money. Part of that is making your house look bigger from the street and living more inside. You can get a lot of “wow” factor if you try a few simple things in your home design.

1. Make your house longer, not square. Most people want to make their houses more boxy in design, with the preconceived notion of saving costs. While this may be true in general, it also makes your house look very small (and boring). For a 2500 square foot house instead of designing it 50 feet by 50 feet make your house longer like 75 feet long by 33 feet wide. You’d be surprised how much fancier and more expensive it looks for not much more money. It also gives you the advantage of putting windows in almost every room in your home, giving them light and visual space.

2. Use the split level home concept. The split-level house was more prevalent in the 1960s than it is today, but it has many advantages if you modernize it. The Split Level lifts the base off the ground. In most of the northern part of the country (I’m from Indiana), you need a footing at least 30″ or deeper to get below the local frost line. Well, let that be the starting point of your basement (or as I like to call it, the lower level.) That means the lower level is 2 feet below ground level, which means you can have full size concrete windows (either 8′ or 9′ high) which saves cost. If you use a lower level 8′ high (to reduce costs), there is a design I like to use to eliminate the bulkheads for HVAC;…incorporate the ductwork into a system I love using floor trusses that are 16″ high, 24″ on center, and keep the trusses in the same orientation throughout the house. Provides plenty of room for HVAC ductwork in the floor framing system and no bulkheads which means less cost as you have flat roofs and no extra frame for those bulkheads. If you need room for the HVAC to “run through” each other, do it in the engine room.

3. With the split level home, the second floor (or the “main level” as I like to call it) is 7-9 feet above ground level, not only giving you a commanding view of the property, but which also looks like a 2 story building, for the price of 1 story. You can leave the windows open at night because the window frames are 10 feet above ground level. You have a lot of visual privacy because people on the street don’t have a direct view of the house. When you sit they can’t see you, even if you have many windows. On the main level, I love using vaulted ceiling beams on the main level to give the rooms more visual height.

4. Use wide overhangs. Wide overhangs were more prevalent during the Prairie Style period This may seem strange, but wide overhangs (like 4′ wide) make your home look bigger both inside and out. Like I said earlier, I love vaulted ceiling trusses. I start with an 8′ high wall (instead of 9′). With a 4 foot overhang and vaulted ceiling joists, the interior wall height is now 10′ (8′ wall, 2′ at roof truss), with the roof peak at 15′. This is because the roof began to “rise” further from the outer wall. I am getting 10-15 foot ceilings for a price of 8 foot high wall. The wide overhangs also help in summer, protecting the windows from shade, keeping direct sunlight outside.

5. Incorporate screened decks and porches into the design. Don’t make decks and porches an afterthought, but incorporate them into the design, i.e. lay brick or siding over them, put a roof over them, and make the openings look like windows, but don’t put in the glass. . And consider putting them in the front of the house, not the back. I designed a house for my parents that was 1300 square feet on the main level, but added the screened in porch to the front of the house. The house was 72 feet long in the front (24′ porch, 16′ great room, 8′ driveway, 24′ garage) and looks huge. (if you’d like to see it, go to my website (web address below), home page, about halfway down the page, “Click here for more house photos,” and it’s the first photo. the screen is to the left) The interior of the Screen Porch is finished with moisture-resistant drywall, so the interior feels like any other room in the house (it also has vaulted ceilings), but it is not heated no air conditioning. It is the most lived space of the home. Having the screened in porch or deck in the front of the house gives you more community with your neighbors, while it can give you more privacy. In my home, the deck has a solid wall from level to 42″ above the deck floor. This provides visual privacy when I sit, but when I stand up, I can chat with neighbors (42″ is also a incline height for elbows). As a bonus, with the house on two levels, the space below the deck (since it has siding and the floor is 7 feet above ground level), and the roof above the deck, I have a shed that is 18 feet wide and 28 feet high. long under deck for lawn mowers, bikes, tools, which I don’t have to store in the garage.

6. Minimize the garage. There is nothing visually pleasing about a garage. The most important rooms in the house (Great Room, Dining Room, maybe the Screen Porch) should have the most visual presence in your home. Having a monstrous 24-foot-by-36-foot garage jutting out from the front of your house is not attractive. Position it backwards from the front of the house and, if you can, position it towards the back of the house. Use side entry garage doors if you can. And put many normal windows like the rest of the house. Try to make it look like any other room on the street. By minimizing the garage and making it look like another room in your house, you will make your house look bigger when it really isn’t. If you are one of the homeowners who eventually converts their garage into a living space, making the garage look like a regular room from the outside makes these conversions easier. Simply remove the garage doors and install window sizes like the rest of your home.

7. Use a lot of repetitive windows. By using the same size window over and over again in a long pattern, it will make the house appear longer. And these do not need to be operable windows. Fixed windows are less expensive than operable windows.

It opens the doors to the financial world for many retailers. The merchant cash advance industry is growing at an astonishing rate. This growth is due to the fact that traditional banks are not meeting the needs of small businesses.

This product is very unique. It’s a purchase of an asset, not a loan, so we have to use specific language consistent with an asset purchase, such as recovery rate and discount rate instead of interest rate. It’s a lot like factoring, but it’s a sale that hasn’t happened yet.

A cash advance provider gives merchants a lump sum cash advance in advance. In exchange, merchants agree to return the principal and fee, giving the business an agreed-upon percentage of their credit card sales until their balance is zero. This percentage is between 12%-24%. The repayment term is only 5-12 months.

Merchants generally must use the vendors credit card processor because the advance is automatically returned as a percentage of the proceeds from each batch. A small number of merchant cash advance companies do not require the merchant to switch credit card processors. So if this is an issue, be sure to ask the merchant cash advance company you’re thinking of working with.

Cash advances are very different from traditional financing programs. In essence, merchant cash advance providers buy a small percentage of future MasterCard and Visa revenue, and the merchant pays this as a daily percentage of that revenue.

Obtaining cash from traditional financial institutions can be difficult for some businesses, particularly retail, restaurant, franchise or seasonal businesses. These merchants primarily use credit card processing, so merchant cash advance programs offer a number of benefits.

Why merchants like it

Cash is often available more quickly than with traditional loans. These programs are especially appealing to restaurant and retail merchants, not only because these types of businesses can rarely obtain traditional financing, but also because of the immediate liquidity.

Most cash advance providers advertise that cash can be available in about 10 days. Unlike a loan with a fixed interest rate, an amount due, and a set due date each month, with merchant cash advances, the money is paid back as credit card receivables come in.

Merchant Cash Advance programs are cash flow friendly, especially during slow seasonal periods. Traditional loans and leases require a fixed payment every month, whether or not the business has made a sale. Because payments are calculated as a percentage of sales, if sales grow, payback may be faster, but if the owner experiences a business interruption or downturn, payments will be lower.

In most cases, business owners do not offer a personal guarantee or personal guarantee.

How providers make money

Finance charges can vary widely, not only from provider to provider, but also from advance to advance. As an example, the funding range for a $10,000 advance could be as low as $1,500 or as high as $4,000. That’s a 60% difference.

There is no fixed interest rate; the effective interest rate varies depending on the business. If the merchant’s business is doing well and sales are up, the advance provider collects the money sooner and the interest rate is quite high. Since there is no time limit for repaying the loan, the effective annual rate decreases as the payments are spread out over time, although the cash provider usually forecasts a fairly short period for repayment, usually less than a year.

There is no question that the merchant’s cost for this type of financing will be higher than for a conventional loan, but it is practically a foregone conclusion that a conventional bank will turn this merchant down for their much-needed loan.

Merchants interested in a program like this may have incomplete or struggling credit histories. They will have things like past tax problems, a list of delinquencies, collection issues, liens, or judgments that would be an automatic red flag for a conventional bank. The merchant cash advance industry caters to businesses that are unable to obtain traditional financing.

A risk worth taking

There is a risk to cash advance providers and a fairly high risk (hence the higher cost to the merchant for the money), but they use sophisticated models to determine likely future credit card purchases. They also offer cash with relatively short payback periods to help mitigate risk.

Although approval is not as difficult as it is for most bank loans, few cash advance providers will approve new merchants without a history of credit card transactions. Even fewer will approve sums greater than what merchants can reasonably expect to earn from credit card transactions in a year.

The merchant cash advance provider bears all the risk, the risk is high, but since it is paid out of projected future sales, it is usually a risk worth taking. Seasonal businesses that need cash to get them through lean seasons or merchants experiencing an unexpected downturn in business (for example, due to road construction, building repairs, or prolonged illness) may find a need for an advance of cash until the business recovers.

However, commercial cash advance companies say troubled businesses aren’t the only merchants interested in this type of program. Many types of businesses are often underserved by traditional financing institutions. Let’s take a restaurant as an example, it could be a very successful business, but a traditional bank wants to see tangible assets. Perishable food or used restaurant equipment just won’t cut it, even if that restaurant is full every night.

There are many examples of times when healthy small business owners could use cash to help build their businesses, but are unable to obtain the necessary traditional financing. These include franchisees who have exhausted their savings to purchase their first franchise and want to open a second; merchants whose competitors have closed and have the opportunity to purchase their competitor’s old inventory or move to a new location; expansions; acquisitions; or simply the desire to move quickly on a new perceived opportunity.