Haunted marketing, tax burdens by metro area, and Sir David Attenborough explains curling
A New Orleans real estate broker has been getting lots of attention since George Takei posted a photo on social media Monday of a real estate sign reading “Not Haunted.” The signs are the work of Shelnutt Real Estate in New Orleans which is trading on the Crescent City’s reputation as America’s most haunted town. Since the post, Finis Shelnutt, the owner, has been on two radio programs and dealt with phones ringing off the hook.
Need some new ideas for finding leads? A Canadian broker, KaraLee Foat, has her office provide pumpkins to clients for a jack-o-lantern carving contest and gingerbread kits for a holiday decorating contest. Clients then snap a photo and post to her website where they are judged by local celebrities. Both have translated into business for the firm. Expand your marketing ideas beyond postcards and magnets and find what will work for you!
NPR had a story recently on DIY homebuilding in the internet age, highlighting a project called ‘foundhouse’ among others. Find the plans online, gather materials, and you can build your own home. More pictures are available here. It looks like they didn’t find a bathroom though…
As the snow begins to melt, thoughts turn to…taxes. HousingWire crunched the numbers to find the best and worst housing markets in terms of overall tax burden in the US. They give the top and bottom five. In a nutshell, the Lowest: Cheyenne, WY; and the highest: Bridgeport, CT.
Where will you find the nation’s highest average apartment rents? Would you believe Williston, North Dakota?
Ever wonder why tabloids always use yellow headlines? Why some magazine covers have so much text while others barely any? The blog 99% Invisible looks at the evolution of the magazine cover over the 20th century.
Do you still play Candy Crush? 100 million people still do, daily. The company behind it is launching an IPO so they’ve had to release some remarkable financial numbers. Last year the cleared over a half BILLION dollars in profit! How much did you contribute? I gave more than I should have, but luckily I’ve been stuck for so long that my interest has waned. The Altantic looks at the company and says its a remarkable enterprise, but a really bad investment. Some commentators say the IPO is more about the founders cashing out while the game is still (relatively) hot.
With the knowledge that our economy is intrinsically tied to the global economy, we decided to read up on Ukraine this week. The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal offer the basics and background on Ukraine and its important role in the global economy.
The Winter Olympics are wrapping up soon. There have been some great moments, some groans of defeat, and some gasps of surprise. And then there’s curling. I still don’t get it. Luckily the BBC has brought in an expert to explain the ritual: noted nature program narrator Sir David Attenborough.
This month we finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Though any book about war is heavy, we enjoyed this one very much. Zusak’s original word compositions create rich and impactful pictures. Written from the perspective of Death (aka “Grim Reaper”), we follow the story of Liesel, the story’s delightful, feisty and strong female protagonist. Through this perspective we gain an on-the-ground glimpse into the perils of war and what it was like to live as a citizen in Germany during WWII. The end of the story will put a deep hole in your heart as a reminder of the horrors of war, and particularly of WWII. Next we will check out the movie, released last November. Excellent follow-up companions to this book include Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
Free Starbucks—the best thing ever! Unfortunately, the only way you can get free Starbucks is be an NBC employee at the NBC section at the International Media Center in Sochi. NBC hired 15 Russian Starbucks baristas to man their secret store, housed them and paid their wages. You can order from a limited menu of drinks, but they do not offer plain black coffee. Talk about employee perks…
Harry Potter real estate, Roast Duck Shanghai-style, and Texting
If country living is your thing, we have the perfect piece of Harry Potter real estate for you to check out–Ron Weasley’s home. How much could the Weasleys make if they put their Devon house on the market? A whole lot of galleons.
People in Hong Kong loved Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman’s floating Rubber Duck when it arrived in town last May. It seems, however, Shanghai was a bit envious, so they made their own…but well, made it partially roasted. Most of the city was not amused. Click through to the story for a finger-licking picture of the boat.
New research shows expansive posture and larger workspaces promote power but may lead to cheating.
Do you resist making phone calls? Is texting the only way you communicate these days? For millennials, the answer is yes. They are so phone-shy that phone consultants are brought in to explain how and why to use the phones, including an explanation of the dial tone. Personal conversation is still important to create rapport and avoid text communications.
And speaking of texting: Sleep walking, sleep eating, and now Sleep texting, really? Sleep experts are now reporting texting while sleeping is an “alarming trend”. Sleepy people are texting inappropriate messages, losing needed sleep and waking up exhausted. Just turn off your phone and get some restful and restorative sleep!
National Dog Day was earlier this week (didn’t you know?). So of course there’s a collection of funny dog pics and gifs.
This sounds like a great idea for a horror movie: One million cockroaches escape from a farm in China, spreading out through the countryside. YIKES!
Airport libraries, sprayable energy, and (one of) the world’s oldest professions
A real estate broker sounds like a modern profession, right? Not really, according to a new exhibit at Chicago’s Oriental Institute. “This stone I was photographed with has these beautiful carvings that represent real estate transactions,” said real estate broker Margie Smigel. “To think that 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, they were keeping track of who got what — it’s such an interesting concept.”
In order to save the local independent bookseller, Quebec is considering regulating the price of new books. Who thinks that is a bad idea: independent booksellers, among others. Studies predict it will only hasten the decline in spending on books in the province.
Summer travel season is winding down, but did you happen to stop by any airport libraries recently? Books – either physical or electronic – are making a comeback at airports. It’s a natural location. You have time to kill, and most other options aren’t cheap. Local libraries are partnering up with airport authorities to offer some low-cost options.
Echoing a story from earlier this summer, some homeowners in Connecticut are raising their homes to avoid future flooding to save on flood insurance. The amount of damages to flooded houses required that the home be built higher. “The Ekvalls in Old Greenwich are a typical example. Sandy’s tidal surge sent water up to the kitchen countertops of their 1930s cottage, which was 6.5 feet above sea level. They decided to raise the first level to 15.5 feet, higher than the 14 feet required by the town under the federal maps. Now the roof is 43 feet high, so tall that the family needed a variance on a different Greenwich ordinance: one restricting roof heights to 35 feet.”
Don’t have time for that morning cup of Joe? Tired of the caffeine withdrawal headaches when you skip a day or two? Does Red Bull give you heartburn? Well, coming soon: sprayable energy. An odorless, colorless, topical caffeine spray that promises all the benefits and none of the pitfalls of other energy products.
Now breaking: Double Stuff Oreos only have 1.86 times the stuff.
And in other sad food news, scientists are testing a beer that doesn’t cause a hangover. I thought that’s what O’Doul’s already was for…?
eBook pricing, real estate infographics, and a remarkable life rediscovered on Wikipedia
Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart served in the Boer War, First World War, and Second World War, was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip and ear, survived a plane crash, tunneled out of a POW camp, and bit off his own fingers when a doctor refused to amputate them. He later said “frankly I had enjoyed the war.”
And that’s just the first paragraph! The rest of his biography is pretty amazing too…
Infographics have become a popular way of presenting an abundance of data in an easy to digest format. You see them online, in the media, and even on TV. Of course real estate information is well represented. Pinterest user and digital consultancy firm Yakadanda has collected some great real estate related infographics in one place.
Are your dogs bored and lonely at home? DirectTV is launching DOGTV next month, to keep your dog entertained while you are working. Programming includes relaxation, exposure to different sounds and stimulation. Since dogs can’t see red and green, shows are broadcast in blue and yellow.
Latest SCOTUS property rights case, Vegas is back, and creative ways to stand out from the crowd
The Supreme Court handed down a decision Tuesday morning that’s gotten considerably less attention than this term’s blockbuster battles over same-sex marriage and voting rights. But Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District will likely prove a historic property-rights ruling, with far-reaching implications for the leverage local land-use agencies may use to extract concessions from property owners and developers for the common and environmental good.
‘Don’t bet against the house’ as the saying in Vegas goes. That holds true for Vegas real estate too apparently. High-paying investors have helped Las Vegas’ real estate prices to bloom in a place that once ranked as the country’s foreclosure capital.
You expect your real estate agent to be knowledgeable, friendly and possess business expertise. Do you also want to go hang gliding with them? It’s certainly one way to distinguish yourself among many real estate agents. Some agents exercise with their clients, some go turkey hunting, play beer pong or take their customers to Costco to stock up on home supplies. “You see each other as real people, not as ‘you work for me,’ ” . . . “And I don’t see you as dollar signs.”
With tongue in cheek, NPR shares some tips on sounding like an expert at a wine tasting.
Worst charities, packing a suit, and a royal baby bump (to the economy)
It’s time for summer charity walks, runs, bike races, you name it. But not all charities are as equal. Sadly some are little more than slush funds for their managers. The Tampa Bay Times recently took a look at the problems with the business and came up with the list of the 50 worst charities. If you recognize any of these names you might want to reconsider your donation.
Boston demonstrated the Economics 101 concept of “supply and demand” with a recent $560,000 sale of a tandem parking spot. Does the parking spot come with a mechanic and valet, we wonder?
Packing a suit for a business trip can be a challenge. I generally spend my first night on a trip behind an ironing board making sure I’m presentable for the rest of a trip. Business Insider has a video on how to pack a suit correctly (though I wish the closeups weren’t so extreme). Other people suggest rolling it all like a burrito and I’ve heard the best thing is to just wear your suit on the plane. Do you guys have any tricks?
The Seattle Public Library recently broke the world record for a domino chain made out of old books.
Google Glasses are still the greatest invention that I’ve never seen. While the wearable screens won’t be on the market until next year, people are already beta testing. A big supporter, tech investor, Marc Andreessen, is a fan, saying that at some point we’ll feel naked without a pair. Of course he’s looking for google glass apps to invest in.
What makes you an adult? Getting married, buying a house, having kids? Not necessarily for Millennials, says The Wall Street Journal. Millennials say they feel like an adult when they have bought their own health insurance, establishing a career and paying off student loans. Instead, topping their list of adult milestones are more amorphous goals such as “accepting responsibility for yourself” and “making your own decisions” about, say, what car to buy or whether to take a job in a different city.
Royal baby to give almost $400 million bump to British economy
Lost your keys, your pet or your remote? Place a Sticknfind tracking device on your items (before you lose them) and find them with your phone. The Radar Screen displays all your devices that have been tagged within range.You can tap the Sticker on the radar screen and decide if you would like it to Buzz, Flash the Lights or do both. Note: the radar Screen can only be used to approximate the distance of the Stick-N-Find to your phone, but not direction.
In the annals of keepin’ it klassy: Spirit Airlines to serve wine in a can.
The importance of homeownership, death of the check, and buh-bye Google Reader
U.S. News & World Report brings together studies discussing the importance of homeownership. Besides economic benefits, there are also social benefits. “Clearly, for most people there are distinct times to rent and own, based on income, marital status and other variables, and housing policy should provide a balance between these housing needs. However, given the ability of homeownership to generate family and community benefits, ensuring policies that facilitate sustainable homeownership must remain at the core of our nation’s housing policy agenda.”
U.S. consumers and businesses wrote 28 billion checks in 2009, a figure that’s been dropping about 1.8 billion a year. The deathrattle of checks started on September 11, 2001, when the terrorist attacks in New York put a halt to the daily $6 billion worth of checks flying around in planes from coast to coast. New technologies are quickly making even today’s use of checks obsolete.
Google has decided to shut down its RSS feed reader, Google Reader, as of July 1st. While blogs and RSS are yesterday’s shiny new toy, lots of people still rely on Google Reader to condense their information stream to a manageable flow. Forbes had an interesting piece on the shutdown, reminding us that although the internet is a ‘user-driven’ medium, it’s still controlled in lots of ways by corporate tech companies. Looking for alternatives to Google Reader to migrate your feeds? There still are several feed reader alternatives out there.
As a both a biker commuter and car driver, I know the frustration of reading bike riders’ hand signals for turning and stopping. People seem to do just whatever they want, if at all. Is this guy turning or stopping? An inventor has taken some of the guesswork out of the process with his new prototype helmet with built-in stop and turn signals. It’s pretty cool if it’s not too heavy.
In order to make the game more relevant to his 3-year-old daughter, a father hacked into Nintendo’s classic video game Donkey Kong and reversed the roles of the hero and princess. Now Princess Pauline jumps, climbs, and dodges barrels to save Mario.
Twinkies will be back! Is this a good thing or not?
2020: the next housing crisis, resilient agents, and a horse in the living room
Even as we’re still recovering from the last housing collapse, economists are forecasting the next crisis. Their best guess: 2020, as aging Boomers start leaving their giant suburban single-family homes for retirement living. The problem is there aren’t enough families in the following generations to meet demand, either because of finances or preference.
BloombergBusinessWeek has an interesting story this week on the rise (and so far mostly non-success) of Redfin, Zillow and Trulia. In looking at the internet startups that promised disintermediation, hollowing out the home buying experience as others had with travel agents, stock brokers and car dealers, the authors find that people still rely on the traditional agent for the largest purchase of their lives.
How can you spice up your listing photos? How about a horse in your living room? A REALTOR in Virginia helping to sell a $5.99-million horse farm is using a picture taken several years ago for a coffee table book that features the a horse standing in the stable apartment living room. The image was picked up by the Huffington Post, helping to generate some interest on the property.
The Bipartisan Policy Center released its blueprint for reform of the housing market. One suggestion is the elimination of both Fannie and Freddie, replacing the GSEs with a backstop guarantee much like GinnieMae does for FHA and VA loans. Some commentators feel this spells the end of the fixed rate 30 year mortgage as we know it.
We were shocked and saddened to learn about the man who died when a sinkhole opened up under his home in Florida. We wondered if homeowners’ insurance covers sinkholes. According to the Florida Department of Financial Services, it depends on the extent of damage. Standard homeowners insurance is required by law to cover “catastrophic ground cover collapse” but to qualify to that level, the home must be so damaged that it’s condemned. Luckily separate more general sinkhole coverage is available as an add-0n. Wondering if there are sinkholes in your neighborhood? A new service from Floodinsight will tell you for a small fee. You can also contact the Florida Geological Survey.
Samsung is set to unveil it’s new Galaxy IV phone later this month. CNN reports that some are speculating that the phone will have scrolling controlled by the users eyes. When you reach the bottom of the screen the phone will sense it and start scrolling the page for you.
You want to start a garden, but you don’t have a clue what to do. SproutRobot can help you. Sign up for free, and SproutRobot will create a personalized planting plan and send you seeds to plant. If only I had a yard!
North Korea’s been in the news lately. The latest dictate from Pyongyang: the country announced 28 approved haircuts for men and women. Interestingly, the current leader’s coif didn’t make the list…
The rise of ultraHD TVs, password keys, and Millennial debt
Having finally caught up to the 21st century with a plasma tv (or is that still 1990s?), I now see that the latest and greatest is Ultra HD (sometimes called 4K) sets from all the usual suspects. They were the stars of the just-concluded Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Before you start hyperventilating that you will need to start saving now for your new $20,000 set, Engadget talks us off the ledge. A lot of things are going to have to happen before these become even remotely popular. Best guess: not until after 2016 Olympic Games.
Managing passwords is a constant battle. Make them all the same and one hack and your life is wiped out. Make them all different and good luck remembering even a few of them. There are some doable fixes like 1password, but they aren’t for everyone. Google is working on another option, trying to develop a password token that slides into a USB port or even a ring that transmits your information wirelessly at short range. While for now these fixes are only good on google browsers and sites, Google is talking of trying to develop an independent standard that might find acceptance across the industry.
While talk of debt among Millennials tends to focus on college tuition, credit cards are another area of concern, according to Time. A new study out of Ohio State University found that young adults are racking up credit card debt at a more rapid rate than other age groups, and that they’re slower at paying it off.
How well is Microsoft’s new tablet, Surface, doing in terms of sales? Not great….
This will help answer the most pressing question of our time—where are my missing socks? WiseBread helps you locate your lost socks in this helpful article.