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…
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.
Big city revival, new Gmail, Millennial housing preferences, and man’s best friend
Big cities could be making a growth comeback after a rocky decade. Their growth rates are rising and, for the second year in a row, they are growing faster than their surrounding suburbs.
Is the smartphone the all-purpose Swiss Army knife of the future? Software developers offer August, adding one more utility to the smartphone: house key. Thanks to @paulmacko for sharing this article with us.
Google is ‘improving’ Gmail once again. You can now sort your inbox by tabbed category – personal, social, updates, etc. – so that you only see the type of email you want to deal with now. The rollout is supposed to be gradual, so if you don’t see anything different now, wait a bit. And for now, you can opt out of the upgrade if you don’t like it.
This week Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate released national survey findings of 18-35 year-old Americans that reveal the next generation of homeowners are rewriting the rules to homeownership and reinterpreting traditional norms to fit their values.
The process of home buying and selling invariably entails a move. BuzzFeed offers 33 great moving tips to smooth the transition.
Seems like the whole Midwest has had a week of storms, thunder and lightning. To keep up to speed on the go, check out these apps for coping with severe weather.
The passage of time as seen through photographs can sometimes feel haunting or sad, yet photographer Wilma Hurskainen captures this passage in a stunning, provocative, and mostly happy presentation. Take a look at the four sisters, side-by-side, as children and adults.
Man’s best friend? Last year dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all dollars paid out in homeowners insurance liability claims.
On a lighter dog-related note, if you’re still traumatized by Old Yeller and you didn’t even see the ending of I Am Legend because you ran out of the theater holding your ears. At this cool website, learn the fate of canine cast members BEFORE watching the film!
One way your email gets on spammers lists, financial spring cleaning, and stolen mobile phones
Find out how Move Inc. is fighting scraping of their listings. Real estate listings are a valuable commodity because of the individual information and information gathered from a multitude of listings. Hedge funds, banks, other financial institutions and related real estate services find the listing information valuable to gather statistics and create mailing lists. Move.Inc looks for suspicious scraping activity of real time queries during a hold period and can block the scraper’s IP address, and discover if the information is ending up online. Please note that NAR never shares, trades, or sells email addresses.
Spring cleaning isn’t just about dusting and putting away the winter clothes. It also applies to your finances. Spring is a great time to review budgets, look at savings, debt, and prune your receipts. Time has 10 ideas for a financial spring cleaning.
Someone swiped your cellphone? Too bad, so sad, according to The New York Times. You may have filed a police report and your cell phone company, but not much can be done. The FCC’s database of stolen phone information can inactivate the phone’s individual tracking number, but most stolen phone end up overseas, where the database does not work.
Scientists at IBM have nothing better to do than make stop-motion animated movies by moving individual atoms…
A new use for those stress balls everyone gets at convention trade shows: memory aids.
Henry Gribbohm says he lost his life savings on a carnival game and all he has to show for it is a stuffed banana with dreadlocks.
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.