iPad Air, Mood Maps, and Dog Poop DNA testing
Apple unveiled its latest version of a tablet computer this week, the iPad Air. On sale Nov. 1, it’s thinner, lighter, and faster than it’s predecessor. Apple continues the tradition of keeping prices the same – starting at $499. Is it worth the upgrade? I’m using an iPad vers 1, so for me it definitely is worth it.
Do you sometimes feel you don’t fit in your community? Everyone’s rushing and you’re going slow enjoying the scenery? Or are there too many hippies running coffee shops on every corner? Take a look at America’s Mood Map. Answer a few questions and it will tell you which state is closest to your personality. Maybe it’s time to relocate? I’m supposed to go to Washington DC…hope I can afford it!
Nothing can ruin a morning like finding a fresh pile of some anonymous dog’s waste in your yard. Now some home owner associations are fighting back. They are requiring all pets in their community to have a dog DNA test taken so the culprit can be found and the owner fined. First offenses carry a $250 penalty and go up from there.
With the return of cheap energy, you might think America’s love affair with wind power might be on the wane. However, projects across the country are still being built. Wind energy accounts for the largest share of new capacity in the last year – over 13 gigawatts. One project that has been battling to open for years is Cape Wind, a wind farm off Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The New York Times had an article this week on the dueling personalities fighting for and against it.
It’s almost a right of passage for high school juniors and seniors – the college scouting trip. Google (and the bad economy) is helping to make these a thing of the past. Time has an article on why the rise of online interviews and tours is good and bad news for college applicants.
Wasting time, courtesy of Google software engineers. Find out the hidden jokes, the Swedish Chef language interface, how to do a barrel roll and much more, here.
Sexy Big Bird?! When did girl’s halloween costumes get so ridiculous?!
The following Field Guides have recently been updated in the Library at Realtor.org:
Association Mergers & Partnerships
Mergers and partnerships can be advantageous to a Board or Association for a variety of reasons, including: overlapping markets, similar services, geographic considerations, cost-savings, membership benefits and wider recognition in the marketplace. This Field Guide will provide you with information regarding association mergers as well as information specific to REALTOR® Association mergers. Plus, you’re sure to uncover valuable information pertaining to nonprofits in the collection of eBooks offered to you for free from NAR’s eBook collection.
Credit scoring has become a serious issue in the lending community and it can affect your ability to obtain or refinance your next mortgage. Credit scoring systems can gauge a mortgage applicant’s credit rating and assign an interest rate and risk value based upon information provided in the loan application. Credit scoring offers several advantages. It provides quick recommendations while taking human judgment out of the equation. Credit scoring also is extremely efficient and, usually, inexpensive. This updated field guide includes articles and books relating to credit scoring.
Dealing with Stigmatized Properties
Do you dare disclose if there is murder or mayhem at your listing? What if the owner was a controversial person? What are the professional and logistical challenges if there is a well-publicized ghost on your next property? Don’t despair, help is here! This page offers some creative marketing tools and advice for selling properties with an unsavory past.
Development Impact Fees
Impact fees, or development fees, are expenditures that developers are required to make as a precondition to approval of their projects. Impact fees are generally used to finance roads, schools, affordable housing, transit systems, and other projects and services in municipalities throughout the United States. The fees are frequently passed on by developers to purchasers in the price of a new property and, therefore, increase the cost of housing and decrease the profitability of a particular project. This Field Guide includes articles, studies, Supreme Court decisions, and other material on the debate over impact fees.
Disasters can happen any time. Do you have disaster insurance? Find out what a standard policy should cover, NAR information, pricing and reform issues, aspects of choosing a disaster insurance policy and much more in this updated field guide.
“Homeowners insurance covers the structure of your home and your personal property, as well as your personal legal responsibility (or liability) for injuries to others or their property while they’re on your property.” It is important to note that a standard homeowner’s insurance policy does not typically include earthquake damage or flood insurance.
With NAR Global, REALTORS® can diversify their clientele. By completing the Certified International Property Specialist Designation, the At Home with Diversity Certification, or the Resort and Second Home Property Specialist Certification, our members gain the global perspective to fully serve clients here and abroad. With this global perspective in mind, this Field Guide to International Referrals provides information on international legalities, education, best practices, etiquette, research, and more. Also check this guide for current news on the international real estate market, as well as a sample international referral form created by NAR’s CIPS group.
Mediation & Conflict Resolution
Traditionally, real estate industry disputes rely on negotiation for solutions. If negotiation fails, litigation is often initiated. Mediation involves the skillful intervention of a third-party professional to help resolve disputes that arise between two or more parties. This page includes a variety of resources, including articles, website links, books and other sources relating to mediation, conflict resolution, arbitration and dispute resolution.
What is the impact of property tax on commercial property? How is the economy affecting office buildings? Get the latest on office building trends and much more in this updated field guide.
Private Transfer Fees
Private transfer fees are the latest money-making tool for developers. Also known as reconveyance fees, recovery fees, capital recovery fees, or resale fees, a private transfer fee is a charge that is required to be paid to a developer, HOA or individual at closing each time a property is sold. The transfer fee is attached to the property as a covenant and usually runs for a set period, often 20 or 99 years. While developers say it is a way to spread improvement costs over a longer period, opponents believe private transfer fees decrease affordability, increase potential liability, and provide no benefit to property purchasers of the community in which the property is located. In 2012, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) issued a rule prohibiting the fees on mortgages handled by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks. As of 2013, over 35 states have either banned or placed conditions on the practice. This updated field guide provides background information on the fees, their impact, as well as information on where to turn for the most current information.
Real Estate Organizations
Need to find a real estate organization? Look here for associations and federal agencies that deal with fair housing, appraisals, housing finance and other real estate issues. Find out how these organizations are playing their part in the real estate world.
Redesigning Association Websites
Web design has evolved dramatically since the Internet was founded. Is your association website W3 or ADA compliant? Do you use XML? Are your navigation menus logical and easy to use? Is the writing acceptable for the Web? Would a blog or twitter feed work on your site? Consult the information below for articles and helpful tips to assist in the redesign of your association’s website for the 21st century.
A reverse mortgage can provide cash to homeowners who do not want to move but would like to tap the equity in their home by allowing senior citizens to borrow against the equity, but they can pose risks to homeowners. This page includes articles, books and websites relating to reverse mortgages. Books can be borrowed through the Information Central library by clicking on the book title.
Sale-Leasebacks & Synthetic Leases
Often used as a financing alternative, sale-leasebacks offer financially struggling companies access to cash to pay down debt and improve the bottom line. And in a post-Enron environment, sale-leasebacks provide an alternative to the less favorable option of synthetic leases. Find out how sale-leaseback transactions have helped the balance sheets of hotel, restaurant, retail, and other businesses, in the articles and books in this guide.
Selling New Homes
Interested in selling new homes? Learn about the latest market conditions, how to market new homes, and how to spot new home design trends in this updated field guide.
Successful site selection begins with the basics – traffic flow, market analysis, property size, and zoning restrictions, among other factors. But site selection considerations for a restaurant differ widely from those for warehouse properties. Learn the basics, and then venture into site selection for office, retail, restaurant, hotel, and warehouse properties, in this regularly updated Field Guide.
Surviving and Thriving in a Slow Market
Every market has its ups and downs, and real estate is certainly no exception. In difficult times, it is more important than ever to find your niche, to discover new marketing methods, and to explore how you can separate yourself from the competition. And whether you are a residential or commercial specialist, your clients will be looking to you for advice on coming out on top. This Field Guide offers tips and ideas to help you and your clients survive and thrive in a challenging market.
We’ve just added a new section to the library page at realtor.org – Business Letter Templates. Here you will find the start of our new collection of FREE letter templates that members can use along with some links to books in the library collection and a book for purchase in the REALTOR Store. We have simple MS Word document templates for:
- Asking for Referrals
- Changing Real Estate Firms
- Checking In, Expired Listings
- For-sale-by-owner prospecting
- Neighborhood Farming/prospecting
- New Business Announcement
- Office Move
These can be used as idea generators and as a place to start. As the starred legalese says at the bottom of the page as well as inside the templates:
These documents are provided as samples and do not constitute legal advice. Members should modify these documents to address their specific needs and verify all information provided to ensure its accuracy and compliance with applicable law.
Have an idea for another letter template? Let us know and we’ll give it a shot.
Are your mail merge skills a bit rusty? There are tons of YouTube how-tos on the subject. Here’s a nice one for MS Word 2010.
iPad 5 next week, email woes, and the 1964-65 World’s Fair that wasn’t
Less than 5 days until Apple unveils its new iPad! Can you stand it?! Unlike the whispered rumors of past releases, much is already known about iPad 5. Macrumor rounds up the skinny on what to expect (as well as a handy countdown clock for the true fanboys). As I’m still limping along with my iPad 1, I know what I’ll be asking for at Christmas.
Yahoo Mail user? What do you think of the latest refresh? If you’re like a growing chorus of users, you aren’t happy.
Did you know that Google can use your photo and information in ads on their website? Well, they can, but you can stop them. It’s all tied to Google +. If you don’t have an account, relax. But even if you don’t think you do, you still might if you use any of Google’s services – Gmail, Google Apps, etc.
When is a World’s Fair not a World’s Fair? When it’s not sanctioned by the Bureau of International Exhibitions of course (you knew there had to be some organization lurking in the background right?). Such was the case of the New York World’s Fair in 1964-1965. They broke multiple rules: a two year run instead of one 6-month festival, opening only two years after an official World’s Fair in Seattle (BIE only allows 1 exhibit per country per 10 years), and charging exhibitors rent. It ended up being a showcase for corporate America with lots of visions of the future. While it’s recalled fondly today, at the time it was a bit of a bust. The Atlantic has an interesting article on the fair, complete with some great videos from the time.
Though not highly scientific, Buzzfeed offers a fun personality test associating animals with each of the Myers-Brigg’s personality types. Which type are you? I’m an Octopus
Rising housing prices lead to thinner waistlines and why do we eat popcorn at the movies?
Respondents living in communities in which home values appreciated more rapidly had fewer functional limitations, performed better on interviewer-administered physical tasks, and had smaller waist circumference. Our results indicate that increases in housing wealth were associated with better health outcomes for homeowners in late middle age and older.
The shutdown has closed lots of websites, but not Smithsonian Magazine’s. There was an interesting post this week about why popcorn became a movie snack.
You finally got your mitts on a new iPhone 5! You want to sell your old phone, but how do you wipe out all your data? Lifehacker explains how.
You might have noticed Starbucks’ new line of pastries, but did you know they’re also moving into tea and fresh juice? It’s all a plan to branch out from the morning-only crowd. Starbucks also makes the news this week for their petition to the US Government.
This seems to be the video of the week: telekinesis in the coffee shop. Too bad it’s just a commercial tie-in for a new movie.
According to a study released by app maker Locket, the average person unlocks his or her phone 110 times each day.
Shutdown or ‘slimdown’ (HA!), it’s what we’re reading
Extra time on your hands if you’ve been furloughed? Here are some ideas to pass the time.
First see if you should actually be at work: CNN has a comprehensive list of what’s open, what’s closed in the government. My frustration: US Census.
Maybe some online education? Online open courses have taken off in recent years, but not all of them are the greatest. If you want to dip your toe in the water to see how it goes, here are 15 Free Online Courses That Are Actually Worth Your Time.
Today is National Vodka Day. I can’t think of a better time to celebrate…
Need an alternative to Netflix to keep costs down until you head back to work? Libraries are trying out a new service that allows patrons to check out streaming movies, music, TV shows and audiobooks from anywhere they want.
and in other news…
Ever want to see the 1.2 billion people on Facebook? Natalia Rojas compiled all the public profile pictures in to one site. It doesn’t look like much at first, but you can see everyone from Mark Zuckerberg to the latest person who joined. Why, you ask. Why not?
You talk to Siri daily. Would you like to meet her? Susan Bennett, the human voice of Siri, thinks she sounds kind of snippy. “There are some people that just can read hour upon hour upon hour, and it’s not a problem. For me, I get extremely bored … So I just take breaks. That’s one of the reasons why Siri might sometimes sound like she has a bit of an attitude. Those sounds might have been recorded the last 15 minutes of those four hours.”
This actually might work: how to make a perfect mason jar salad. It’s all in the layering, just don’t tip the jar over on the bus.
Field Guides are one-stop resource packages on dozens of subjects of interest to REALTORS®. On each page you’ll find links to articles, books, web sites, statistics, and other material on each subject. The list of the most-used field guides from Information Central for the month of September 2013 was released today:
- Field Guide to Quick Real Estate Statistics
- Field Guide to Being a New REALTOR®
- Field Guide to Opening a Real Estate Brokerage
- Field Guide to Preparing & Staging a House for Sale
- Field Guide to Listing & Selling Luxury Properties
- Field Guide to Real Estate Office Policy Manuals
- Field Guide to 1031 Exchanges
- Field Guide to Farming and Prospecting
- Field Guide to Marketing Tips for REALTORS®
- Field Guide to Writing a Business Plan
Have an idea for a new field guide? Let us know!