Netflix about to raise prices? McDonalds & the neighborhood, and new scams to watch out for
Is Netflix going to raise its price? It’s been a few years since the last price change so people are beginning to wonder. Some speculate that Netflix will move to a tiered price structure to help stave off complaints. It’s all part of consumer marketing. The Atlantic has an article this week explaining how it might work.
McDonald’s made the news this week when a local New York branch brought in the police to kick out some elderly patrons who were camping out for most of the day. The dispute was settled and things seem to have quieted down, but why did this particular McDonald’s become the neighborhood’s de facto senior center? The New York Times investigated and discovered it had more to do with neighborhood dynamics, restaurant layout, and convenience than the great coffee and food.
The US 1 dollar bill hasn’t had a refresh in over 50 years. Every other bill has seen lots of changes recently. Why not old George? Partly because the low denomination currency isn’t a frequent target of counterfeiting. And also because the vending machine industry doesn’t want it to happen.
Had a call on your mobile recently that rings once and then hangs up? Don’t be so quick to call that number back to see who it is. It could be a scam that will cost you.
Speaking of scams, most credit card users know that it’s important to check monthly statements for suspicious charges. Obviously, large sums that you never charged should be reported and generally can be removed. But how often do you just skip over smaller charges? If you see $9.84 from a somewhat vague company, look closer.
Hate peeling potatoes? Have you tried the water-bath technique? A colleague found a video on Facebook that demos.
For the love of books, internet dreams in 1981, and Boy, is it cold!
Charles M. Blow espouses on books and, as librarians, we couldn’t agree more. Remember the days of learning about the world through the lens of a print encyclopedia? Next time you need an escape from reality or a fresh perspective on life, check out one of our eBooks!
Imagine if you will, sitting down to your morning coffee and turning on your home computer to read the day’s newspaper. Not so remarkable now, but in 1981 it was pretty much science fiction. A colleague recently sent me a news clip from San Francisco about how the local papers were experimenting with electronic offerings. It’s a good way to remember of how far we’ve come. Downloading the San Francisco Examiner took 3 hours back then over a basic modem (with a rotary phone!).
People who have fast eye movements tend to be less patient and are more prone to making quick decisions, according to a recent study.
During the last few bone-chilling weeks, we’ve been hearing the term “polar vortex” but do any of us know what it really means? AccuWeather explains why this year has been so bone-chilling.
It’s winter. What better excuse for a video of dolphins surfing?
Security in the Digital Age, Parlor Tricks, and Young Ambition
Did you get caught up in the Target security breach last month? I know I did and it wasn’t fun. It’s certainly changing the way I shop at stores. Target is offering its affected clients the option to sign up for added credit monitoring for a year for free. On the topic of commerce security, the Better Business Bureau shares the Top 10 Scams of 2013.
Here’s an inspirational real estate story from Down Under. Alex Pattaro, 17, completed his first sale of a $1.3 million dollar house in Sydney, Australia. He left school, got his real estate training and embarked on a property career. He hopes to become an auctioneer in the future. Way to go, Alex!
And, kicking off our reading list this year is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and The Snow Child by Eoywn Ivey. Both books offer a great escape into a world of magical realism. Through rich, dream-like imagery, they weave alluring stories of romance, family, and mysticism.
Spring is just around the corner, CES highlights, and joining the 300 club
As we’re still in the deep freeze here in Chicago, it’s sometimes hard to remember that the Spring home selling season is just around the corner. Luckily the Washington Post remembers and they had a great article this week on getting ready to sell and what to expect in 2014. One piece of advice: read your contracts and legal documents. I don’t know how often we get calls from the general public asking if they can get out of their contract or lease and they say they haven’t read it, or don’t even have a copy. Sheesh…
CES is wrapping up in Vegas. The annual Consumer Electronics Show had the usual hot gadgets, things that will never actually work, and inventions that fill a need you didn’t know you had. Now that most of the mobile phone companies take a pass, TVs are the big stars. This year was no exception with brands touting curved screens, 4k resolution and other innovations. But as New York magazine points out, televisions aren’t the must-have upgrade they once were. And companies are worried.
Also at CES, the latest in high-tech kitchens. In a few years I’m sure we’ll all be wondering how we lived without an oven controlled by your phone.
I never knew (forgot?) that with the latest cell phones and their lithium-ion batteries you don’t need to train it by fully draining between charges. Yahoo tech gives quick tips on keeping your cellphone batteries in top shape.
Speaking of shape, fitness is another hot topic this month. Time ranks 26 fitness trackers from best to worse as well as giving some good general tips.
For much of the US, this week has been brutal for weather. But it’s peanuts compared to weather in Antarctica where temps can plummet to -100! The Atlantic had a story this week on a south pole ritual that sounds more than a bit mad: On those rare days when the temperature plummets to -100, some south pole residents sit in a 200 degree sauna and then run outside around the pole wearing only their boots. Those who successfully compete the run join one of the most elite clubs: The 300 club.
Homeowners in traditionally frigid regions have learned by necessity how to avoid burst pipes. But with temperatures plunging to record lows recently, people in otherwise temperate areas have heard horror stories of frozen plumbing and the watery, expensive aftermath. The New York Times garden section has advice.
The worst effects of the polar vortex are receding, but winter is still here. Get some great tips for lowering your heating bill here.
Say it ain’t so! A Velveeta shortage is looming, according to CNN. Start thinking about your replacement SuperBowl snacks now.
Make life easier when getting foil and plastic wrap out of their boxes. Duh—I never noticed those little tabs on the boxes. A great tip already for 2014. Plus you sometimes wonder if the man in the video is speaking english…
The following Field Guides have recently been updated in the Library at Realtor.org:
Back in 2000, President Clinton signed the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act. Find out what defines an electronic signature, learn about the benefits of E-signatures in real estate, and explore the legal issues.
Getting a Mortgage
A mortgage is probably the biggest loan you’ll ever take out and it’s important to look at all of your options before you sign on the dotted line. In this Field Guide you will find information on the many types of mortgages available, including creative financing options, links to real estate calculators, government programs, do’s and don’ts of refinancing and much more.
Listing & Selling Luxury Properties
Due to the limited quantity of luxury properties and prospective buyers, the listing and sale of luxury real estate may present some challenges. However, with the right marketing mix and a little creativity you can connect your luxury listings with qualified and interested buyers—perhaps a multimillion dollar home could be converted into a winery, convention retreat center, or hotel, or maybe connecting with the international community will help increase the pool of prospective buyers. This updated Field Guide explores trends and performance of the luxury market, and offers tips and techniques for success.
Low-Income Housing Tax Credits
The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program is run by the IRS and allows companies to invest in low-income housing, while receiving 10 years of tax credits. This important program works with state housing finance agencies to administer the program on a state level. Housing credit units are privately owned by developers and are run at a profit. Investigate this complex program by reading the articles included in this field guide.
Military Base Closings
With the possibility of more military base closings, we examine the pros and cons of them and the effect on real estate and the communities surrounding them.
Opening a Real Estate Brokerage
Thinking about opening your own real estate business? Find out if you are ready to be a boss, tips on writing a business plan and much more.
Places of Worship
Amendment I of the U.S. Bill of Rights states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The intent and meaning of this amendment, and its translation into when, where, and how places of worship can exist, remains a highly debated topic in American society. Read on below to learn more about the laws, zoning, and appraisal issues unique to places of worship.
Real Estate Office Mergers
Merging with or acquiring another business is a significant undertaking that will leave no area of your business untouched. One must pursue a merger or acquisition with caution and proper due diligence. According to McKinsey & Company, “some 70 percent of mergers fail to achieve expected revenue synergies,” (Mergers and acquisitions: New McKinsey Research Challenges Conventional M&A Wisdom, Strategy & Leadership, 2004 Q). However, with the right set of circumstances—culture cohesion, solid leadership and management, flexible employees, deft market positioning, a copacetic economy—a merger or acquisition can be a sound decision. This field guide will assist you in enumerating the issues and considerations of a merger or acquisition.
Underground Storage Tanks (USTs)
Why are underground storage tanks regulated by the U.S. government? As with any liquid-containing vessel, USTs have the ability to degrade and wear over time, in turn causing leaks. These leaks can pose substantial public health and safety risks, ranging from contaminating the groundwater that many Americans rely on for drinking water, to potential fire or explosion risk.
Working with FSBOs
Only 9 percent of today’s sellers are FSBO sellers, and among those who chose the FSBO route, 40 percent knew the buyer who bought their home. Among those who did not previously know the buyer of the home, 18 percent of those were contacted directly by the buyer to purchase the home. Taking these factors into account, the FSBO market of sellers who sold their home without knowing the buyer, and those who were not directly contacted by a buyer, is significantly smaller. FSBOs typically have a lower median selling price, though FSBOs typically received 98 percent of their asking price. Those who first tried to sell their home as a FSBO, but ultimately sold via an agent, were the youngest of all sellers and had the highest median household incomes. Every home seller must eventually decide whether to hire a REALTOR® or to sell the home on their own. But even after they decide to go solo, FSBOs can still be convinced to use a REALTOR®’s expertise. In this Field Guide you’ll find dozens of articles, books, videos, studies, statistics and Web sites to help you find out who FSBOs are and how to work with them.
Working with Single Home Buyers
The real estate market in the United States is comprised of a great diversity of buyers, each with unique needs and concerns. Understanding how to best serve these unique needs will assist you establishing an outstanding service and reputation for your real estate business. Single home buyers represent a sizeable portion of home buyers in the current residential real estate market, and are an audience worth knowing and understanding. This Updated Field Guide will help you to learn about the needs, concerns, and buying behaviors of single home buyers.
NAR members and Association staff can borrow up to six electronic books, digital audios and/or videos at no cost, through the Virtual Library eBooks Collection.
Members can also borrow up to three books for 30 days from the Library Catalog for a nominal fee of $10. Call Information Central at 800.874.6500 for assistance.
Principles of Big Data
by Jules J. Berman
Principles of Big Data helps readers avoid the common mistakes that endanger all Big Data projects. By stressing simple, fundamental concepts, this book teaches readers how to organize large volumes of complex data, and how to achieve data permanence when the content of the data is constantly changing. General methods for data verification and validation, as specifically applied to Big Data resources, are stressed throughout the book. The book demonstrates how adept analysts can find relationships among data objects held in disparate Big Data resources, when the data objects are endowed with semantic support (i.e., organized in classes of uniquely identified data objects). Readers will learn how their data can be integrated with data from other resources, and how the data extracted from Big Data resources can be used for purposes beyond those imagined by the data creators.
No B.S. Wealth Attraction in the New Economy
by Dan S. Kennedy
The old economy is shattered, and GONE FOREVER. It’s never coming back as it was, and in its place a generally tougher, more demanding marketplace is emerging. HOWEVER, when it comes to wealth, one instrumental reality is unchanged: No matter the economic conditions—booms or recessions, including the fast-emerging New Economy—there is wealth. And who better to show you how to lure, bait, attract, and become a magnet for it than “Millionaire Maker” Dan S. Kennedy?
Becoming smarter is easier than you think. With 100 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power, you’ll have dozens of different ideas on how to improve your memory and better your brain function right at your fingertips. From taking Gingko Biloba to picking up a new hobby, these hundred simple tips will definitely keep you sharp. Becoming smarter is easier than you think. With 100 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power, you’ll have dozens of different ideas on how to improve your memory and better your brain function right at your fingertips. From taking Gingko Biloba to picking up a new hobby, these hundred simple tips will definitely keep you sharp.
The Leader’s Brain
by Dr. Bastiaan Heemsbergen
In his new book, Dr. Heemsbergen shows that the best insights into leadership can come not from what leaders are thinking, but from how leaders think. The author suggests a fresh approach to how leaders can think, and describes the necessary processes and tools required to improve the leader’s capability in volatile and complex times. Leveraging extensive research findings and observations, the author makes some unexpected connections between: brain research and how leaders think; the artistic process; our knowledge of the nonconscious; and leadership development.
Managing Growth in America’s Communities
by Douglas R. Porter
The 250 Questions Every Landlord Should Ask
by George Sheldon
As the U.S. housing crisis deepens, more former homeowners are becoming renters. Other people are purchasing foreclosed or devalued properties and turning them into rental units. There are great opportunities for investors seeking to become landlords—but they must beware of pitfalls as well. This compact, easy-to-follow guide is helpful for landlords and those who are considering renting out their properties. Using a question-and-answer format, George Sheldon explains how to: decide on the right rent to charge; screen tenants to find the good ones and discourage bad ones; deal with unexpected expenses; resolve landlord-tenant disputes; and more. This concise, nontechnical guide will provide quick, clean answers to the top 250 questions about how to be the best landlord and reap the best profits.
The Clarity Principle
by Chatham Sullivan
Turf wars, low morale, bad politics, and misguided strategies: these are issues that claim much of a leader’s time. But this parade of dysfunctions and messy “people” problems actually points to an organization confused about its core business, torn between competing ideas about what it is and wants to be–an organization facing an identity crisis.
Strategy and leadership expert Chatham Sullivan argues that when the purpose of a business becomes confused, it is the leaders’ responsibility to restore clarity, especially in the face of tough strategic choices that have political, personal, and cultural consequences for the organization. Sullivan shows leaders how to take the decisive stand that clarifies their organization’s core purpose.
Icons of American Architecture
by Donald Langmead
Twenty four American buildings and structures whose history and legends have become part of popular culture are presented here, including bridges, government buildings, hotels, and monuments.
NAR members and Association staff can borrow up to three books for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10.
Members and staff can also borrow up to six electronic books, digital audios and/or videos at no cost, through the Virtual Library eBooks Collection.
The study of public policy and the methods of policy analysis are among the most rapidly developing areas in the social sciences. Policy analysis has emerged to provide a better understanding of the policymaking process and to supply decision makers with reliable policy-relevant knowledge about pressing economic and social problems.
Presenting a broad, comprehensive perspective, the Handbook of Public Policy Analysis: Theory, Politics, and Methods covers the historical development of policy analysis, its role in the policy process, and empirical methods. The handbook considers the theory generated by these methods and the normative and ethical issues surrounding their practice.
Leverage big data insights to improve customer experiences and insure business success. Many of today’s businesses find themselves caught in a snarl of internal data, paralyzed by internal silos, and executing antiquated marketing approaches. As a result, consumers are losing patience, shareholders are clamoring for growth and differentiation, and marketers are left struggling to untangle the massive mess. Big Data Marketing provides a strategic road map for executives who want to clear the chaos and start driving competitive advantage and top line growth. Using real-world examples, non-technical language, additional downloadable resources, and a healthy dose of humor, Big Data Marketing will help you discover the remedy offered by data-driven marketing.
Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten
By Stephen Few
Analytics Press, 2012
Most presentations of quantitative information are poorly designed—painfully so, often to the point of misinformation. This problem, however, is rarely noticed and even more rarely addressed. We use tables and graphs to communicate quantitative information: the critical numbers that measure the health, identify the opportunities, and forecast the future of our organizations. Even the best information is useless, however, if its story is poorly told. This problem exists because almost no one has ever been trained to design tables and graphs for effective and efficient communication. Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten is the most accessible, practical, and comprehensive guide to table and graph design available.
Tenants or Guests, Brokers or Clients, Vendors or Partners
By Michael J. Lipsey, Rusty Fischer and Karen L. Poirier
Lipsey Publishing Company, 2004
Tenants or Guests addresses the paradoxical need to provide more service to an increasingly sophisticated customer, while dealing with the corporate issue of profitability, budgetary constraints, and a challenging market. The goals of Tenants or Guests are numerous, but the key objective is to implement a service culture so embedded in principles of excellence as to encourage existing clients to seek out and request only those properties that are owned and/or operated by your organization, attract new customers, and develop a reputation that induces existing and prospective customers to do business with you in the future.
Off Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction
By Matthew Kelly
Hudson Street Press, 2011
One of the major issues in our lives today is work-life balance. Everyone wants it; no one has it. But Matthew Kelly believes that work-life balance was a mistake from the start–because we don’t really want balance; we want satisfaction. Kelly lays out the system he uses with his clients, his team, and himself to find deep, long-term satisfaction both personally and professionally. He introduces us to the three philosophies of our age that are dragging us down. He shows us how to cultivate the energy that will give us enough battery power for everything we need and want to do. And finally, in five clear steps, he shows us how to use his Personal & Professional Satisfaction System to establish and honor our biggest priorities, even if we spend a lot more time on some of the lesser ones.
Big data: A Revolution that Will Transform How We Live, Work, And Think
By Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier
Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013
A revelatory exploration of the hottest trend in technology and the dramatic impact it will have on the economy, science, and society at large. “Big data” refers to our burgeoning ability to crunch vast collections of information, analyze it instantly, and draw sometimes profoundly surprising conclusions from it. This emerging science can translate myriad phenomena—from the price of airline tickets to the text of millions of books—into searchable form, and uses our increasing computing power to unearth epiphanies that we never could have seen before. A revolution on par with the Internet or perhaps even the printing press, big data will change the way we think about business, health, politics, education, and innovation in the years to come. It also poses fresh threats, from the inevitable end of privacy as we know it to the prospect of being penalized for things we haven’t even done yet, based on big data’s ability to predict our future behavior. In this brilliantly clear, often surprising work, two leading experts explain what big data is, how it will change our lives, and what we can do to protect ourselves from its hazards. Big Data is the first big book about the next big thing.
Marketing and Selling to Generation X: A Unique Generation of Home Buyers
By Ashley Christofferson-Cunningham and David Cathey
BuilderBooks, National Association of Home Builders, 2002
Get the inside scoop on what motivates GenX home buyers. Two GenXers share their insight into this new market niche. They show builders, sales and marketing directors, and sales associates how to use GenX hot buttons to attract them to and sell new homes. This great new book helps improve sales by serving the needs of this new generation of home buyers.
NAR’s research group puts out lots of great reports. Some are free and some you have to pay for. Probably THE MOST POPULAR report is the annual NAR Profile of Buyers and Sellers. Here’s where you’ll find ‘where buyers found the house they purchased’, top search tools, info on FSBOs, and much more. It’s 120+ pages of great information. We get calls all the time from members looking for data that can be found in the Profile of Buyers and Sellers. Usually a $19.95 PDF download, this month it’s offered for free through the MVP Program. Just sign up for the MVP email.
If you already are a subscriber you can email NARMVP@Realtors.org with your Name and your NRDS ID and let us know you are an MVP subscriber. They’ll send you an email with a promotional code to redeem your reward. You can also take the steps outlined on the MVP page to confirm your subscription again and you’ll be added to the list.
Honestly, some MVP rewards are more valuable than others. I’d say this is one of the best. And it’s free for the next week or so. Get it!
Netflix micro-genres, Snapchat, and password help
This week, NPR’s Fresh Air program looks at Netflix and its micro genres – over 76,000 categories – everything from “Japanese Horror Movies from the 1960s” to “Tearjerkers From The 1970s” and how it relates to our society. A really interesting 6 minutes! The story also links to a page at The Atlantic magazine with its own Netflix Genre Generator.
Do you or your kids use Snapchat? Now might be a good time to read up on Snapchat’s privacy issues, as detailed by Adam McLane.
This week we learned about Zotero, a research management and group collaboration tool. Perhaps real estate professionals could employ it similar to Evernote to gather and share information about a property listing?
Glitter nail polish has more uses than just decorating your teenage daughter’s nails, according to Wired. It can also be used to tamper-proof your laptop, with a little preparation.
I hate junk mail, especially credit card offers. Optoutprescreen lets you opt out electronically for 5 years or permanently by mail. Optoutprescreen.com is a website provided by four major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, TransUnion and Innovis — that allows consumers to opt out of receiving credit card offers by mail. The site is approved by the Federal Trade Commission. I just opted out myself and hope this really works!
And last, with many members calling our team for password reminders, we want to suggest checking out password management tools like LastPass, 1Password, and RoboForm. These tools make it easy to manage and create secure passwords for hundreds of sites. As with any technology tool, be sure to read up on each company’s privacy and security policy before signing up.
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 December 2013 was released today:
- Field Guide to Quick Real Estate Statistics
- Field Guide to Marketing Tips for REALTORS®
- Field Guide to Listing & Selling Luxury Properties
- Field Guide to Personal Assistants
- Field Guide to Being a New REALTOR®
- Field Guide to Writing a Business Plan
- Field Guide to Opening a Real Estate Brokerage
- Field Guide to Preparing & Staging a House for Sale
- Field Guide to Real Estate Office Policy Manuals
- Field Guide to Farming and Prospecting
Have an idea for a new field guide? Let us know!