Monday, January 17, 2011

Whats up with the Real Estate Market? -

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

Your Voice: Hinderance or Charisma and Enthusiasm? -

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:

Your tone
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.

Voice inflection
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.

Delivery Practice
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 -

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

Quick access to wellness information -

A new website, 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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