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What if you Thought About Time Differently?

We’ve become a society that is always in a hurry.  We typically rush from one thing to the next and often try to multi-task while we do.  When I ask most people how they feel about time, the answer is often that they feel it is completely out-of-control.

What if you knew that multi-tasking was actually shrinking your brain?  It’s true!  There have been scientific studies to prove it.  Most folks believe that multi-tasking makes them more productive, but in reality it makes us dumber and even more so over time.

There are plenty of other ways to kill brain cells and but this thought of multi-tasking my be new for you.  So, once you get onboard with the concept, what can you do about it?

Become deliberate in your activities.  Introduce periodization into your day in order to gain the greatest level of productivity. That is set specific periods of time to accomplish specific types of tasks.

What types of tasks?  There are basically three ways to spend your time if you are in business for yourself.  (This is also true for employees that want to move up in the company.)  Probably the time block that is biggest is the one that you spend working in your business or profession.  It’s what most people think of first when they think about dividing their time.

A second type of time block is time spent working on your business or improving your skills as an employee. This could be additional education, for example.

The most important category of time, and often most ignored for self-employed people is personal time.  This is the time that is set aside for rest, relaxation, time with family, vacations, etc.  All those activities (or lack of activity!) that help to recharge our batteries and keep us at our most productive.

Because this kind of personal time is so important to our overall well being, it is what should be scheduled first!  Try sitting down with a calendar and marking out in different colors time you have committed for each of these types of tasks.  Take your personal time first and see how much better you feel and more productive you are.

If you have ever wondered why it is that I typically do not work on Sundays, now you have your answer!  Sundays are my primary time to rest, relax and recharge.

What’s your favorite activity that is just for you?

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Energy Upgrades Can Improve Property Value, But Are There Financing Pitfalls?

There are loads of good reasons to make energy efficient improvements to your home but choose wisely to get the most bang for your buck.  Not only does it matter what you upgrade but even more important is how you pay for those improvements.  That tankless hot water heater could land you in financial hot water if you’re not careful!

New windows, doors, roof, insulation, et cetera will all make your home more comfortable and potentially more attractive as well as increasing the value.  Few people have the cash available to do the upgrades they intend and so will resort to financing the improvements.  That can be a great way to get the improvements you want with a relatively low pain point in your monthly budget.  Here’s where you need to be careful.

  • There’s a relatively new (since 2010) loan program available that allows local governments, state governments, or other inter-jurisdictional authorities, when authorized by state law, to fund the up-front cost of energy improvements on commercial and residential properties, which are paid back over time by the property owners.  The program is called PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy).  What this means is that certain lenders are funding the improvements for you and attaching a lien to your property that is repaid through your property taxes.

On the surface it sounds like a great idea and for some it may be but there are some pitfalls to be aware of.

  • Many times the contractor that is arranging to do the work is also the contractor providing the financing for the PACE program loan.
    • Be sure that both the cost of the improvements and the cost of the loan are within typical costs for the kinds of improvements you are considering.
  • Take your time in making your decision.  An offer that is good “today only” may not be your best choice.
  • Understand exactly the cost of the improvements with the financing cost and the terms under which you are repaying the loan.
    • Remember that the loan payments are added to your property tax bill as an additional assessment.  This means that if you become delinquent on your property taxes, you are also delinquent on your PACE program loan and your PACE program lender would be able to foreclose on their lien and you could lose your home.
    • A PACE program loan can also make it difficult or impossible to sell your home.  Most buyers will not be willing to accept your loan obligation as part of the sale.  That means that the PACE program loan has to be paid off before you can transfer ownership to the new buyer.  If you don’t have enough equity in your home to cover the cost of the lien, you may have to bring in additional funds.

Even if everything else looks good, you love the cost of the improvements and the PACE program financing terms, check with your lender before doing this kind of loan because the PACE program loan is recorded as a super lien.  This means that in most cases it is in order of priority above other liens on your property (including your primary mortgage)!  Your mortgage lender will probably not allow you to put them in this position.

In conclusion, as with most things, do your homework, make sure you know what you’re getting into and make your best decision based on the facts.  If you want to talk about your specific situation and how it relates to buying or selling your home, start the conversation with me at 661-375-7325.

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Do you Know How to Recognize an Email Scam?

Email scams are on the rise.  Do you know how to recognize an email scam?  The scammers have become much more clever than they used to be and are spoofing different service providers than were previously targeted.  Check out the video to learn how to recognize a scam and protect yourself from theft of money or identity.

The latest scams purport to be from Docusign, a trusted eSigning service and Amazon, the popular shopping site.  Don’t be fooled into clicking a link that looks legit!

Did you know that Gmail will show you if it believes an email is legitimate? Look for the key symbol in front of the sender’s name.  

That symbol was missing in the examples in the video.  Go back and have another look.

Just to be safe, use both methods of verifying, checking the link location and looking for the key symbol.

Hope this helps you stay safe!

 

 

661.375.7325

 

 

 

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Should You Pay A Record Retention Fee When Buying or Selling a Home?

Whirlpool 3159698458_ec3c3f3c23Most real estate agents work on a commission basis.  That means that whether you are buying a home or selling your house, the agent representing you is most often paid as a percentage of the purchase price.

An excellent agent is worth every penny they get paid.  And sometimes, worth much more than the commission earned on a particular transaction.  For example, right now I’m involved in what should have been a simple, slam-dunk transaction that has dragged on for 10 weeks and involved much more time effort and energy than any of the multiple transactions I’ve already closed in the same time period.

But I digress.

The point of this article is to make you aware of transaction-related fees that may appear on your closing statement and are often presented by a real estate agent as a “requirement.”  We’re talking about “transaction,” “processing,” or “records retention” fees that are disguised as required  in order to close your transaction.  I have heard that these fees can vary in amount anywhere from $100 – $1000.

These fees bother me for several reasons.  Foremost, is that those types of fees are simply the cost of doing business. The law requires that certain documents are included in a real estate transaction (transaction fee to make sure all documents are property executed).  Processing fees may be interchangeable with transaction fees but sometimes are charged by a third-party (for example in the dwindling popularity of short sales).  The law also requires that real estate brokers retain their records for a specific period of time (records retention fee, anyone?).

Keep in mind that each real estate brokerage sets their own business policies. The brokerage may indeed require these fees for their own transactions.  The good news is that there is no legal requirement to include these extra fees in your transaction.  In fact, paying those fees is a bit like watching extra money flushed down the drain.  So, what can you do about it?

If you are already in an active escrow transaction, and you love your agent, the best thing to do is have a discussion about the fees and negotiate those fees to satisfy yourself.

If you are just getting started with buying or selling a home, make sure that one of the questions you ask the agents you are interviewing is whether or not they charge any fees in addition to the commission.

It’s important to interview the agent you plan to work with in order to make sure you are a good match.  One of my favorite questions to ask is “do you discount your commission?”  Curious about the ramifications of the agent’s answer?  Call, text or email and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.   If you would like a list of great questions to ask when interviewing, please let me know.  I’ll be happy to share that with you as well.

Is there ever a time that you might want to pay the a la carte fees?  I suppose if you decide to hire a discount broker and the addition of the fees doesn’t get the cost above what you would have been paying you could consider it.

One caveat to keep in mind is that “you get what you pay for.”  In the case of these extra fees, you are paying for what you are already getting.

Personally, I believe that if an agent is going to work on a contingency basis, as I do with the majority of my clients, than the commission should cover all the costs.  There are certain cases when I also will work on an a la carte basis, but then the client is fully informed of each of the fees he or she may encounter for my services.

This is one in a series of articles designed to help the consumer navigate the world of a real estate transaction.  Real estate is local, and working with someone who knows the area and the specific issues that may affect your transaction is important.

Sally Sig extra smallPlease share your thoughts or questions by commenting below, emailing me at Blog@93561Home.com or phone / text at 661.375.REAL (7325)

 

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