Monday, April 25, 2011
Forget the no money down, they will be looking at ten (10) percent minimum. They want the Home Buyer to have real “skin in the game.” In the past the Feds guaranteed nine out of ten loans; going forward we will see a major reduction and the buyer will have to qualify the old fashion way: on their own strength. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be restructured but don’t expect the Federal Housing Administration(FHA) to replace them.
On April 1, 2011 most of the “Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act”
went into effect with more coming out in the fall and in 2012. Right now is the best time to buy
and get a mortgage before the process is much harder and expensive.
Regardless of regulations and costs, the buyer only has two basic questions: how much per
month and how much do I have to put down. Both of them are going up and will stay there for
the foreseeable future; isn’t time to get off the fence today?
A final quick recap:
• Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are going through major changes and complete restructuring since the Feds want to reduce their “lending” position to very little.
• Whatever loans will be made with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as the back-up will result in much higher monthly insurance fees and higher total monthly payment.
• Some down payments currently at three (3) percent will be a thing of the past; look for a down payment (minimum) around ten (10) percent in the near future.
• FHA loans in general will cost more to build up reserves in case of default on the note.
• Credit score: like it or not, it’s controlling the loan and its interest rate
• More and more paperwork, disclosures, verifications; the ease of a loan in the past is gone, be ready for delays and a lot more time needed to complete the process.
• The sixty-day-lock will need to be longer, causing a higher cost for the longer period of time that the lender has to set aside the loan amount while not collecting interest on it.
Besides the financing part of the home, buyers now (and going forward) have the best inventory of
homes for the lowest prices in decades. Buyers…now is the time!
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Monday, April 11, 2011
Someone will actually call you from this area code and leave you a message along these lines:
“Hey, this is Karen, sorry I missed you – get back to us quickly. I have something important to
tell you.” Then she will repeat a phone number beginning with 809: do not respond, it’s a scam!
AT & T has been sending out emails NOT to ever dial area codes 809, 284 and 876. If you call from the U.S. you will be charged $2,425.00 per minute!
If you call back you will be listening to a very long message (just to keep you on and add minutes to the call). They will tell you that they have important information about a family member who has been ill or tell you that someone has been arrested, died or to let you know you have won a wonderful prize etc. With so many new area codes these days, people unknowingly return these calls by just tapping on the number and not even look at what’s on caller ID.
The 809 area code is located in the Dominican Republic. The charges can quickly become a nightmare since you made the call. Your local and long distance companies will most likely tell you that they are simply providing the billing for the foreign company and you will end up dealing with a foreign company that will argue having done nothing wrong. Nobody needs this kind of very expensive pain.
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Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren had a great article in Forbes that helped me “balance” the ongoing conversation and costs of green energy compared to our current structure; wind, solar and biomass presently constitutes only 3.6% of fuel used to generate electricity in the U.S. How much will it cost to go green? Energy expert Vaclav Smil calculates that achieving that goal in a decade would incur building costs and write-downs on the order of $4 trillion; $2.5 trillion just to build the necessary generators alone.
Green energy/economy is old and back in the 13th century it was all they had; it is quite literally the energy of yesterday. Few seem to realize that we abandoned “green” energy centuries ago for five very good reasons.
First, green energy is diffuse and it takes a tremendous amount of land and material to harness even a little bit of energy. Jesse Ausubel, at Rockefeller University, calculates that the entire state of Connecticut would need to be devoted to wind turbines to power the city of New York.
Second, it is extremely costly. In 2016 President Obama’s own Energy Information Administration estimates that onshore wind (the least expensive of these green energies), will be 80% more expensive than combined cycle, gas-fired electricity. That doesn’t account for the costs associated with the hundreds of billions of dollars worth of new transmission systems that
would be necessary to get wind and solar energy which is generally produced far from where consumers/ratepayers happen to live.
Third, it is unreliable. The wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine when the energy is needed. We account for that today by having a lot of coal and natural gas generation on “standby” to fire-up when renewables can’t produce. The cost of maintaining this back up is not even included in the cost estimates for green energy. It’s no wonder the peasants of the Dark Age could not rely upon the vagaries of the weather.
Fourth, it is scarce. The wind and sunlight are obviously not scarce but the real estate where those energies are reliably continuous and in economic proximity to ratepayers is scarce.
Finally, once the electricity is produced by the sun or wind, it cannot be stored because battery technology is not currently up to the task. Hence, we must immediately “use it or lose it.” Fossil fuels are everything that green energy is not. Approximately 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas (which costs about $4.00) can generate the same amount of electricity as running an average
rooftop solar system for 131 days. It is comparatively cheap, reliable, will burn and produce energy whenever you want it and you can store fossil fuels until you need them.
The federal government once promised that nuclear energy was on the cusp of being “too cheap to meter.” That was in the 1950s. Sixty-one billion dollars of subsidies and impossible-to-price regulatory preferences later, it’s still the most expensive source of conventional energy on the grid. So much for government promises!
The fundamental question that green energy proponents must answer is: if green energy is so inevitable and such a great investment, why do we need to subsidize it? If and when renewable energy makes economic sense, profit-hungry investors will build all that we need for us without government needing to lift a finger. But if it doesn’t make economic sense, all the subsidies in the world won’t change the fact.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
The IRS recently announced changes to its procedures on filing liens with the hope of assisting taxpayers and small businesses in climbing out of their debt obligations.
In order to understand the impact of these changes and how they will affect your client, it is first necessary to be familiar with how a federal tax lien can affect, and possibly terminate, the sale of one’s property.
A federal tax lien gives the IRS a legal claim to a taxpayer’s property for the amount of an unpaid tax debt. A lien informs the public that the IRS has a claim against all property, and any rights to the property, of the taxpayer. This includes property owned at the time the notice of lien is filed AND any property acquired after the lien is filed. If the IRS places a lien against one of your clients, that lien will show up on title for any property owned by your client, no matter when purchased, until the lien is paid in full.
The new procedures enacted by the IRS focus on assisting taxpayers in paying off federal tax liens faster to minimize the negative impact that these liens have on their financial well-being. The five major changes include:
· Significantly increasing the dollar threshold when liens are generally issued.
The new rules generally prohibit the IRS from filing a lien unless unpaid taxes exceed $10,000 which is double the previous limit. The new dollar amount was aimed at keeping pace with inflation as the previous limit has been in effect since the mid-1980s.
· Making it easier for taxpayers to obtain lien withdrawals after paying a tax bill.
The IRS will now minimize the damage to taxpayers’ credit scores after their debts have been fully paid. Liens will now be withdrawn after taxes are no longer owed. A “lien withdrawal” wipes out the lien from the taxpayer’s record immediately where a “lien release” leaves it on the record for at least seven years.
· Withdrawing liens in most cases where the taxpayer enters into a Direct Debit Installment Agreement.
For taxpayers who owe $25,000 or less to the IRS, they can enter into a Direct Debit Installment Agreement to pay the balance. In return, the IRS will allow for a lien withdrawal.
· Creating easier access to Installment Agreements for more struggling small business.
Prior to the changes in the IRS rules, only small businesses with under $10,000 in liabilities could participate in a payment program involving Installment Agreements. Now, small businesses with $25,000 or less in unpaid taxes can participate. In order to qualify, the businesses must arrange to make automatic payments from their bank accounts.
· Expanding a streamlined Offer in Compromise program to cover more taxpayers.
An Offer in Compromise is an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed. The IRS looks at the taxpayer’s income and assets to make a determination of whether or not to accept the offer. Under the recent changes, the Offer in Compromise program is being expanded to allow taxpayers who make $100,000 or less to participate. In addition, the taxpayers must owe less than $50,000 to the IRS, which is double from the previous limit of $25,000.
Keep in mind that no matter how your client resolves his or her debt obligation with the IRS, in order to avoid a delay at closing, it is important to obtain written documentation from the IRS stating that the debt has been paid off and that the lien no longer affects the specific property that your client is selling.
I went to a panel a few weeks ago that included a yoga teacher, a celebrity nutritionist, a spiritual healer and a woman who created her own beauty line.
What really stood out to me from that workshop was what the yoga teacher said. A question was asked: How does one stay calm and focused in a busy and intense environment? The yoga teacher replied: Just relax, do yoga and breathe. I was taken aback by this comment, as it doesn’t give the ‘regular’ person the tools to ‘relax’ in a busy environment. Not everyone can do yoga everyday and stay calm. It made me think about someone telling me once, in response to my 3PM sugar craving, to take a few deep breaths, drink some water and the craving will pass – it doesn’t.
So what does one do? Is it possible to stop for a minute and think about what is going on around you, take a deep breath and attempt to stay calm in an intense situation? YES! It is being self-aware of YOU!
Self-Awareness, per Wikipedia, is the awareness that one exists as an individual being. Without self-awareness the self perceives and accepts the thoughts that are occurring to be who the self is. Self-awareness gives one the option or choice to choose thoughts being thought rather than simply thinking the thoughts that are stimulated from the accumulative events leading up to the circumstances of the moment.
So when you find yourself stressed or having a 3PM craving, have self-awareness, stop and think about your choices. Being self-aware doesn’t mean you have a higher power, it just means that you are actually engaging with yourself and your thoughts. Thinking about your next step instead of just taking it.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Please click here to access your copy of the March Issue of "Real Estate CyberTips"
This month's special security issue includes the following Tips:
* AN EASY WAY TO KEEP OFF THE SPAM LISTS!
* MANAGE YOUR PASSWORDS - WITH EASE!
* WE KNOW YOU DON'T SPEED - BUT --
* DE- CRAPIFY YOUR NEW COMPUTER!
I hope you enjoy "Real Estate CyberTips". Please let me know at any time if I may be of help with any of your real estate needs.
Paul Paterakis of The Paul Paterakis Power Team
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011
We just wanted to pass along some news about FHA to you. The administration just announced that would be raising the monthly mortgage insurance premiums on FHA loans. As you already know FHA loans have become a common loan program in this current market environment. This increase in monthly mortgage insurance can have an adverse effect on your purchasing power.
Currently FHA monthly mortgage insurance on the 30 year fixed is .90 of the base loan amount. Starting on April 18th this amount will increase by .25% to 1.15%.
That means you will pay more monthly and will qualify for less overall.
The change in FHA mortgage insurance will ultimately change buyer affordability. Under the new mortgage insurance premiums a buyer that is qualified for a $2,000 monthly payment will see their buying power diminished around $7,000 to $10,000. Again this will take effect on all FHA case numbers issued starting April 18th.
Call or E-mail us now for more information!
Monday, February 14, 2011
Recently I had the opportunity to read about an interview with Michael Ellsberg, an expert in the art of eye contact and I would like to share with you some of his points that will help you, unless you already have them, with your customers and clients.
Many of us are “eye shy” and holding another person’s gaze makes us feel uncomfortable or even vulnerable. We need to work on that part since making strong eye contact increases the odds for us to be considered honest, trustworthy and confident. It could help you get that new contract/listing or even spark your current relationship! Michael recommends we begin by practicing in situations where very little is at stake just to get comfortable with it; here is his road map:
* Make eye contact with strangers you pass in public areas. Establish your eye contact when you are four or five paces away; keep a neutral expression and hold your gaze just long enough to determine the stranger’s eye color – no longer than one second. Longer eye contact or pronounced facial expressions, even smiles, can make strangers uncomfortable.
* Make extended eye contact with salespeople, waiters and waitresses among the many.These people tend to be very receptive to eye contact and skilled at returning it in a friendly manner. They know that strong eye contact often results in larger tips and commissions. Once you feel more comfortable making this low pressure eye contact, try holding eye contact with people you know.
The first day maintain contact for a moment longer than it feels comfortable. Then the next day, maintain the eye contact for a moment longer than that. When someone breaks eye contact with you, you should too; Extending eye contact any longer will make him/her uncomfortable.
* Expert tricks. The goal during eye contact is to send a soft gaze, not a penetrating laser like stare. When you are speaking with someone, relax the muscles of your brow and imagine that you are talking in both of your conversation partner’s eyes at once.
* Helpful. Maintaining an attitude of warmth and charity toward the person with whom you are speaking can help create a soft, reassuring gaze. When the time comes to break eye contact, do so by looking to the side. Breaking eye contact by glancing down sends a signal of shame and submission. Breaking it by looking up sends a signal of uncertainty and will seem somewhat
unnatural. Once eye contact is broken, gaze slightly to one side of his/her eyes. Do not focus on something or someone else suggesting disinterest in the person with whom you are speaking unless the conversation is about that person or thing.
* In a professional setting. Try to make eye contact for about half the time that you are speaking with someone: about five seconds on and five seconds off. Making more eye contact than this could seem overly familiar and inappropriate. Adjust according to your conversation partner’s reaction. Do not cut more than 50 % or you could appear unsure.
* With friends. Pay attention to how much eye contact each particular friend tends to make with you and try to do the same. This increases the odds that the friend will feel a bond with you.
* To build intimacy in a romantic relationship. Resume eye contact almost immediately upon breaking it. If the person you are speaking with does the same, the odds are very good that you have made a strong connection. Unfortunately, the opposite is also very true.
* Meeting with buyers/sellers, sales calls in general. Must look confident but not pushy; we also need to give the impression that we are “on the same page” as the client. One subtle-but effective way to accomplish both of these things is to alternate who breaks eye contact. Early in the conversation, notice how long the client tends to hold eye contact with you; then, strive to break contact first roughly half the time. Always breaking contact first seems unsure, while always maintaining eye contact longest seems overbearing. As we break and resume the eye contact, it will become more natural and nothing to worry about any longer.
* Public speaking. Do not try to make eye contact with everyone when speaking to large groups. It’s better to maintain eye contact with a single audience member for five to ten seconds or until you complete your thought before gazing to someone else. Don’t worry if you do not have time to make eye contact with everyone. Even audience members whose eyes you do not meet will sense that you are making connections and will feel closer to you because of it. If you are not comfortable with public speaking or not doing well on that session, make eye contact with only the members of the audience who are nodding in agreement.
* A showdown. If your goal is to prevail in an adversarial situation, maintain eye contact with your adversary for as long as possible. It does not weaken your position if you blink. Maintain a facial expression of extreme calm. An angry scowl or a tensed body lets your opponent know that he/she is not getting to you. The opponent is likely to back down from the confrontation if he/she repeatedly breaks eye contact by looking downward or stops making eye contact with you entirely.
Now that you know the basics, make it work for you in relationships, friendships and business meetings; we may or not have been aware of it but it has been taking place around us nonetheless any time two people talk to each other for whatever reasons.
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Positive Housing Video (Must See)
Monday, February 7, 2011
Some of our new year’s changes/adjustments are getting dusty already and we are only just over one month into the new year. Here are a few more thoughts to help us survive the economic recession and improve our economic status.
1. Assemble a personal financial statement. Create your own balance sheet, measure your assets and assess all your personal liabilities including credit card debt and short term loans. Get to your real net worth.
2.Analyze your liabilities. Divide you liabilities into two columns: current balances and what the same balances will be one year from now; use an amortization schedule for each loan. Be sure to include home mortgage(s), home equity loans, car loans and all credit cards. Include interest rate next to each loan type, balance and amount.
3.Analyze your short-term debt. Credit card balances and home equity loans; what principal payments can you make during the next 12 months to decrease the liability/balances. Can some of them be converted to lower interest/longer terms?
4.Create a monthly budget. It should already be a part of your household and
business plans; Assess your average monthly income and include realistic expenses for each week: groceries, utilities, car payments, mortgage payments, entertainment, medical and education costs. Keep an eye on your checkbook and bank statements for help in constructing your monthly budget.
5.Forecast your income. I know, it’s very hard but it should motivate you to prospect a lot more for new business! After you create your budget, take a hard look at it and do the best you can to have extra income available to pay down your short term debt. If you do this you will be, at a very minimum, fully aware of your weak and strong areas and you can go to work at it from that angle.
6.The credit card freeze. Open up your wallet or purse and pull out all those credit cards and lock them up somewhere out of your reach. Keep only one credit card for real emergencies and Starbucks is not one of them! Stick to your checkbook, debit card or cash: they remind you of actual balances as you try to use them. Just try it for 30 days and you will be amazed at how much less you will spend.
7.Show discipline. All of the above is totally meaningless unless you make a strong personal commitment to it. We are all guilty of financial waste and unnecessary expenses but we still need to be realistic at some point and end the needless costs. Try eating out less, buy only what is absolutely necessary, forget that bargain; only look at keeping money as your first real savings and there will always be bargains and “final sales.” Worst of all is to keep paying interest only on high credit cards balances, where will you be or go to next?
8.Save money. In an economic recession, along with our well known real estate pains, everyone is struggling to survive and talking about savings, retirement and plan contributions seems almost comical; however, it must remain a real part of every monthly budget. We must continue to contribute to all of our plans regardless of how little we can afford; as long as we put something in, it will add up. At the end of the day we all know that it’s not how much we make but what we get to keep that really matters.
A monthly/yearly financial statement and budget will accomplish three very important goals:
* Make you realize your real net worth
* Keep you focused on how much you are spending that you could do without.
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Thursday, February 3, 2011
We are pleased to be providing you our special Real Estate CyberTips E-Newsletter, which, in very concise form, will provide you with monthly Cyber tips and tricks along with our pointers to Internet places of special interest to real estate owners, investors and related professionals.
Please click here to access your copy of the February Issue of "Real Estate CyberTips"
This month's special security issue includes the following Tips:
* VIEW TRENDS A NEW FUN WAY!
* PLAY THE MARKET AND NEVER EVER LOSE!
* SAVE HOURS SETTING UP YOUR NEW COMPUTER!
* TAKE THIS PLACE TO HEART!
We hope you enjoy "Real Estate CyberTips". Please let me know at any time if I may be of help with any of your real estate needs.
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Monday, January 17, 2011
New single family homes are getting smaller, and the trend is likely to last well beyond the recession, according to research from the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB). The median size of a single-family home dropped from a peak of 2,268 square feet in 2006 to 2,100 square feet in 2009.
Homebuilders attribute the decline to consumers’ desire to keep energy costs down, the lack of equity in existing homes available to roll over into new ones, tighter credit standards, less interest in buying homes as investments, and a growing number of first-time buyers.
Despite the trend toward smaller homes, the average number of bathrooms and bedrooms has showed little change, while three-car garages, fireplaces, patios and decks have declined in popularity.
Recession is still on; the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that the economic recession technically ended in June 2009, but for 81 percent of Americans it isn’t over just yet, according to the American Pulse survey from BIG Research.
Many people are still feeling the pain of the recession; 78.6 percent report they have lost wealth in the past two years, compared with 21.4 percent who say they have not. Reasons for the perceived drop in wealth include a decline in their homes’ value, job loss and declining interest rates on savings accounts.
Looking at First-timers; spurred on by the now-expired homebuyer tax credit, first-time homebuyers accounted for a record 50 percent of all home sales in 2009, up from 47 percent in 2008, according to the “2010 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.” The vast majority (93 percent) of first-time buyers took advantage of the tax credit, and 95 percent chose a fixed rate mortgage.
The median age of first-time buyers was 30, and the median income was $59,000. The typical entry-level buyer purchased a property with 1,540 square feet that cost $152,000 and most first timers say they plan to hold the property for 10 years.
First time home-buyer tax credit fraud; the IRS has reported it has suffered nearly $25 million in fraudulent credits from the first time or move up home-buyer credit. Approximately $9 million in credits were issued to prison inmates (they have more than plenty of time to figure that one out!). Other credits were issued to first time home-buyers who bought the property they already lived in from their relatives. No one moved in and no one moved out.
Homeownership Concerns; while 80 percent of Americans still believe buying a home is a good financial decision, concerns about job security remain a barrier to homeownership for many potential buyers, according to NAR and its “2010 Pulse Survey.” Seven out of ten Americans say job layoffs and unemployment remain big problems in their local areas, and eight out of 10 believe these issues are a barrier to homeownership.
More than two-thirds of respondents (68 percent) believe now is a good time to buy a home, down from 75 percent just a year ago, but up from 66 percent in 2008 and 59 percent in 2007. Respondents say the biggest obstacle to homeownership is having enough money for a down payment and closing costs (79 percent), lack of confidence in getting approved for a mortgage loan comes in at 73 percent.
Meanwhile, renters are warming up to the idea of homeownership. More than one-fourth of renters say they are thinking more about buying a home than they did a year ago. Nearly two thirds (63 percent) say homeownership is a priority in the future, and nearly 40 percent say it is one of their highest priorities.
It’s most definitely time for all the renters/potential home buyers to see how big of a home they can qualify them for in today’s market. If they had lost their home, they can become homeowners again for a lot less.
Friday, January 7, 2011
Successful people aren’t just lucky. They are charismatic. We most definitely can increase our ability to influence and motivate others by developing our charisma. It’s within us: energy, confidence etc. just waiting to be developed.
We can study, absorb, practice and master these skills; we can greatly improve our charisma and be all we’ve always wanted to be: assured, commanding, stimulating, energetic, go ahead and add a little pep in your step to increase sales.
Sales are based on transferring a positive, good, trustworthy feeling to others; without enthusiasm in your voice, there can be no real transference of any feeling, hence no sale. Enthusiasm is created in a number of ways and you can test yourself by realizing how you answer a simple: “how are you doing?”
You can also use words that actually “require” you to be enthusiastic:
• Great, fantastic, awesome, wow
• Magnificent, amazing, tremendous
• Unbelievable, wonderful, excellent
These words will make you sound enthusiastic and are hard to say with any conviction unless you are up to it. If you are not naturally enthusiastic, then you must focus on it and practice on it. If you act enthusiastic you will become enthusiastic!
It’s time to face a topic that may feel uncomfortable at first but it is so needed. In a time where face-to-face meetings are becoming less popular and more business is conducted by phone don’t let your voice hinder your success.
While we cannot change our voices, we can in fact train them; it’s a tool that can give you new business but can also cost business you thought you had. Laura Lake has five factors when it comes to having a successful voice:
What does the tone of your voice sound like? Does it reflect confidence? Strength? Assurance?
Does your tone reflect fear? Be honest with yourself and work on your tone; when you call someone it’s show-time and you must sound believable.
Grab a close friend, co-worker or sign up for “Boot Camp” at RE/MAX Showcase for their honest opinion. It’s very important to find someone who will give you a true assessment. Listen to their criticism and make the necessary adjustments.
When speaking and thinking about key points you want to bring out, be sure the inflections in your voice do just that. Inflection alone can change the meaning of a sentence either way.
Practice, practice. The delivery of your message when training your voice is key; don’t be afraid to rehearse a pitch/proposal or even just a phone call. You won’t always have to do this, just long enough to where a good delivery is natural and you can find confidence.
What do you sound like? Have you ever really listened to your voice? For example, when you record your outgoing voice mail message what do others hear? A smile? Joy? Don’t be afraid to use a tape recorder as you train your voice…hear what they hear!
Similar to tone but different, the energy in your voice allows people to feel like they are in the room with you. Does your energy make them want to be in a room with you? Check it out! Breathe, think about what you are going to say and fill it out with the right energy for the moment.
Most often the voice can be trained by just becoming aware of it; sometimes it may take a voice coach or some kind of outside help for whatever you may struggle with. If you assess that your voice may be hindering your success, then it’s time for you to take it to the next step.
Are you time blocking?
The vast majority of Realtors and other professionals have heard of time blocking as a form of improving their efficiency in their business, the problem is that few of them have really mastered the use of timeblocking. What is it? It’s the increase in the amount of time invested into direct income producing activities.
Most professionals associate time blocking with prioritization and the same mistakes are repeated,thus preventing improvements. Let’s attack the issue of time management from the right
• Create a schedule of similarity to raise the probability of success, build it to be a carbon
copy of each day. It’s all about repetition.
• Don’t get sucked into interruptions just because you are so available; stay focused and limit your availability to pre-designated times. A real winner will minimize distractions
by being booked.
• We are the most interrupted professionals in the world; we can’t allow the phone, email, other Agents, clients and other things to become distractions from us fulfilling our objectives. When you need to focus, turn it all off!
• Through time blocking you can drive prospects into your appointment book; that’s
exactly what our doctors, attorneys or accountants do. Why not us?
Total access does not equate to a higher level of customer service, it only means we don’t control our time. There is a direct connection between time blocking and income.
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Thursday, January 6, 2011
Change, per Wikipedia, is the process of becoming different. Change can be something really simple like changing your clothes or your hair color or the leaves changing. BUT usually when we think of change – it can bring about anxiety and sometimes, it’s also very exciting.
We all know change is inevitable. If we stop fighting change and accept change- we may be surprised at the outcome. The story below is something I have shared before but it’s been so long, it’s definitely worth repeating. The moral of the story … accept who you are and where you are as it is exactly where you are supposed to be at this moment…enjoy.
The River – excerpt from ‘Peace is Every Step’ by: Thich Nhat Hanh
Once upon a time there was a beautiful river finding her way among the hills, forests, and meadows. She began by being a joyful stream of water, a spring always dancing and singing as she ran down from the top of the mountain. She was very young at the time, and as she came to the lowland she slowed down. She was thinking about going to the ocean. As she grew up, she learned to look beautiful, winding gracefully among the hills and meadows.
One day she noticed the clouds within herself. Clouds of all sorts of colors and forms. She did nothing during these days but chase after clouds. She wanted to possess a cloud, to have one for herself. But clouds float and travel in the sky, and they are always changing their form. Sometimes they look like an overcoat, sometimes like a horse. Because of the
nature of impermanence within the clouds, the river suffered very much. Her pleasure, her joy had become just chasing after clouds, one after another, but despair, anger, and hatred became her life.
Then one day a strong wind came and blew away all the clouds in the sky. The sky became completely empty. Our river thought that life was not worth living, for there were no longer any clouds to chase after. She wanted to die. “If there are no clouds, why should I be alive?” But how can a river take her own life?
That night the river had the opportunity to go back to herself for the first time. She had been running for so long after something outside of herself that she had never seen herself. That night was the first opportunity for her to hear her own crying, the sounds of water crashing against the banks of the river. Because she was able to listen to her own voice, she discovered something quite important. She realized that what she had been looking for was already in herself. She found out that clouds are nothing but water. Clouds are born from water and will return to water. And she found out that she herself is also water.
The next morning when the sun was in the sky, she discovered something beautiful. She saw the blue sky for the first time. She had never noticed it before. She had only been interested in clouds, and she had missed seeing the sky, which is the home of all the clouds. Clouds are impermanent, but the sky is stable. She realized that the immense sky had been within her heart since the very beginning. This great insight brought her peace and happiness. As she saw the vast wonderful blue sky, she knew that her peace and stability would never be lost again.
That afternoon the clouds returned, but this time she did not want to possess any of them. She could see the beauty of each cloud, and she was able to welcome all of them. When a cloud came by, she would greet him or her with loving kindness. When that cloud wanted to go away, she would wave to him or her happily and with loving kindness. She realized that all clouds are her. She didn’t have to choose between the clouds and herself. Peace and harmony existed between her and the clouds.
That evening something wonderful happened. When she opened her heart completely to the evening sky she received the image of the full moon – beautiful, round, like a jewel within herself. She had never imagined that she could receive such a beautiful image. There is a very beautiful poem in Chinese: “The fresh and beautiful is traveling in the utmost empty sky. When the mind-rivers of living beings are free, that image of the beautiful moon will reflect in each of us.”
This was the mind of the river at that moment. She received the image of that beautiful moon within her heart, and water, clouds, and moon took each other’s hands and practiced walking meditation slowly, slowly to the ocean.
There is nothing to chase after. We can go back to ourselves, enjoy our breathing, our smiling, ourselves, and our beautiful environment.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
A new website, www.Sharecare.com has been created by using advice from top hospitals and physicians nationwide. Click on one of the 48 topics and you’ll see a list of commonly asked questions with responses from health and wellness professionals and research experts.
On January 1, 2011 site users will be able to create a Facebook page and arrange to have customized updated content from various surgeons and doctors. You can also search by expert’s name, hospital, organization or disease.
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