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Leaving A Legacy With Commercial Real Estate

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Watching my two children open the many gifts they were blessed with from friends, family and their parents, over the holidays raised a question for me. What can I give my children that they can enjoy when I'm no longer around? What can I give them that they can share with their Children's, Children's Children? The answer for me is Commercial or Income Producing Property. Namely small to mid-sized Commercial Real Estate. By small to mid-sized I mean assets whose value is in excess of $1 Million. I understand that Commercial assets is not as exciting to my children as the new leap pad games they received for Christmas but it's certainly the gift that will keep giving. In this article to we will explore three advantages to building a legacy with Commercial Property.

Income producing Real Estate in general is a great long term investment because of the high demand. As an investor in Apartment Buildings, I need only point to the basic needs of life, food, shelter and clothing, to justify that there will always be a need for shelter. Of those three needs, the need for shelter is, in my opinion, most important to the average individual. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2011 Consumer Expenditures News Release reports that the average American spends 26% of their income, before taxes, on housing. As we examine our own economic spend plan housing is undoubtedly the largest bill for most of us. This further supports the claim that real estate is in large demand.

Next, Income producing assets are great long term investment because of the principal of leverage. One of my mentors used to say "You make money in real estate when you buy not when you sell... you must Buy Right!" Quoting him here is not as impressive without the Southern accent over the word 'Right.' What he meant is that buying a property must be done strategically with the goal of making money in the forefront. You must be able to leverage the money you use in a deal. Leverage occurs when money is borrowed at a certain interest rate that is less than the rate of return of the property. Leverage enables a commercial asset to pay for itself. What better asset to have than an asset that not only produces income but produces income in excess of its expense. Leaving such an asset for the generations that follow you is powerful.

Lastly, Commercial Property, namely property whose value is in excess of $1 Million, can more often than not support itself. The income produced from the monthly rents can be used to pay the mortgage and hire a staff of professionals to maintain the asset. Of course you can do everything yourself (Not Recommended) but if the property makes enough income to hire a professional lawyer, accountant, landscaper, property manager etc. why wouldn't you? More importantly, if your Children or your Children's Children are passionate about something else and don't want to be full time real estate investors they can hire professionals to manage the asset that funds your legacy.

Professional Liability Is Not General Liability

What is Professional Liability Insurance? Why it is not covered in a General Liability insurance policy? Why do Property Managers, Lawyers, Real Estate Agents, Architects and Travel Agents need Professional Liability insurance? Most service professionals are not aware of the financial hardship they create when the wrong terminology is interjected into a contract or an error in scheduling travel arrangements creates a costly delay. These are brief examples of occurrences that are typically covered under Professional Liability.

Professional Liability is insurance against contractual financial hardship, also known as Errors & omissions insurance (E&O). These policies offer coverage for professional service providers who inadvertently omit something or state something in a contract that causes financial hardship for one of the named contractual parties. As long as the party who created the hardship did not commit the infraction intentionally, a typical Professional Liability/Errors & Omissions insurance policy wills payout up to the policy limits. Usual policy limits are $1MM per claim with an annual aggregate payout of $2MM meaning that an insured can have 2 $1MM claims within one year and have sufficient coverage.

General Liability is coverage for a business or commercial operation protecting it against bodily injury and property damage inflicted to others by an employee or representative of the business. The best correlation is liking General Liability to Auto Liability. Auto liability insurance, required by states, pays for medical expenses and property of others, you caused and damaged, while legally operating your vehicle. This is the same principle of commercial general liability. General Liability, like auto liability, does not cover ANY type of financial hardship inflicted to others.

An important detail to look for in your Professional Liability policy, whether you are currently covered or you are shopping for your first policy, is how defense costs are paid in the event of a claim. Insurance companies offer two options: included within policy limit or paid outside of policy limits. Usually, policies with defense costs outside of the policy limits are issued from more preferred carriers for more preferred risks. When defense costs are included inside the policy limits, the policy is typically geared towards higher risks from less than preferred carriers.

Example: an architect designs an office building; begins working with a general contractor; the general contractor has time limit triggers in his contract with the project owner; due to an unforeseen design flaw/material conflict the general contractor cannot meet his contractual timeline; this costs the general contractor lost revenue of $650,000; the general contractor files a claim against the architect for lost revenue (financial hardship); the architect's Professional Liability Insurance company begins his defense; the policy limits are $1MM per claim with a $2MM aggregate; the policy states defense costs are within the limits allowing $350,000 for defense costs ($1MM less $650,000 damages = $350,000 remaining amount for legal defense); option 2, if defense costs are outside of limits, the architect would have a full $1MM to cover claims regardless of defense costs.

Professional Liability is what every service professional hopes never is never claimed against. It means the professional did not perform his/her due diligence in crafting an effective contract. However, service providers, without PL coverage, are leaving themselves open for possible large claims which could end the business they worked so hard to establish.

Comments are greatly appreciated. What do you like or dislike about this topic?

Real Estate and The Internet

Real estate on the internet has become an online phenomenon.
There is a generally accepted trend online, that people will "research globally, but shop locally". This is especially true for real estate. That's why it is important for your website to be seen. There is also a recognizable pattern online that, most real estate customers use the first realtor they contact. As a realtor I'm sure that you have said to yourself "hey, I know those people, why did they list with that realtor instead of me". Chances are, that is the first realtor that they came across.

Real estate online is so hot that Google is talking about creating a whole separate Google directory just for real estate. Yahoo already has a "lead buying" program just for realtors. HomeGain is reporting a record 5.5 million visitors to their website in the first part of 2006. Many of my clients have already gone through the process of buying leads at Yahoo and other real estate "lead capture" portals. Most of these lead buying programs can be expensive to join and the leads can also be pricey. I have spoken with many realtors all over the country that participate or, have participated in these programs. I hear good and bad things about these programs. However it is my opinion that you should spend your money on marketing your website and then all the leads that you get are yours to keep. Technology, especially the internet has forever changed the way people search for real estate and how they contact local realtors. The National Association of Realtors 2004 survey of home buyers tells us that 71% of home buyers used the internet to start the search for their new home. That is up from 62% in 2003.

Ok, so you know all of this. You have a website, now what?

How do your prospective customers find your real estate website and do business with you. There are two ways. One is "SEO" (search engine optimization) and the other is SEM (search engine marketing). Let's look at the differences between these two and how they affect you and your real estate business.

SEO, "search engine optimization" is the application of several techniques to help a website rank higher in the "natural" search results.

To begin with let's talk about "meta tags". Meta tags are the first things that the search engines will read when visiting your website. Here are the main meta tags that you need to improve if you want to "optimize" your website.

They are your "title tag", your "description tag" and your "keyword tag".
Ok, so how do you find the meta tags on your website? You can check your meta tags by going to your website, at the top of the internet explorer window click on "view" and scroll down to "view "source". A new window will open and you should see something like meta name="description" meta name="keywords".

Let's begin with your "title tag", is also known as your "page title". For example, on many websites if you click on the "about us" link or, the "contact us" link, that's what you will see displayed at the top of the browser window in the blue bar. It is also known as your "anchor text".

Search engines read like we do, from left to right and top to bottom of the page. Your "anchor text" is one of the first things that the search engine will read on your website. Your "anchor text" is what is displayed when your website is listed in the natural search results. It is the first thing your potential customers will read when they do a search. Your anchor text should include one or, two of your best keywords. For example: "Pittsford Real Estate 10 Years of Experience" or, "Professional Full Time Realtor, Pittsford".

So, your title tag is both your page title and your anchor text. Again this is the first thing that your customers will read when reading the title of your search listing.

It should not say "welcome to my website" or "Joe bob's website". This is the first thing that your customers will read. It is your first opportunity to catch their attention. Using keywords like "Real Estate" and "Realtor" will tell the search engines that your page is about real estate. Even better, if you are a realtor in Pittsford, it will see the keyword Pittsford and display your website to anyone typing in "Pittsford real estate".

Next, is your "description tag". This tag provides the description that you see right under the anchor text. Most search engines will display about two sentences as a description. Both your anchor text and your description should include several of your best keywords.

Speaking of keywords. The next tag that we will talk about is your "keyword Tag".

Keywords are important! Keywords are what describe your real estate services. Keywords are what people use to search for your website. And, keywords are what the search engines use to determine if they will display your website to someone searching for your real estate services. Including ten to fifteen of your best keywords into the meta tag keyword section of your website can help your page rank and can help people find your website.

So how do you know what keywords are searched for most often? There are many free keyword tools on the internet. Go to your favorite search engine and type in "keyword selector tool". When you find a free keyword tool that suites you, type in a keyword phrase to see how many times it was searched last month. All the results that you get using this tool are tabulated by the month. Play around with different combinations and you will find that there are specific keyword phrases that are searched more than others. Those are the keyword phrases that you want to use as keywords in the meta tag keyword section of your website. For example, try "Pittsford realtor" or "real estate Pittsford" or try misspelling the word real estate. For example try, "Pittsford real estate". Yes, misspellings count and can be used as a keyword in your meta tags.

Retail Space Ready And Available For Your New Business

Friday, March 29, 2013

Are you looking for a property to start up your own business? Finding the right retail space with Hi-Reit is an important part of entrepreneurship, and a choice that could make or break your business.

Location, Location, Location

There are property management companies that offer property leases at locations that are strategically placed in order to provide plenty of customers. Traffic flow patterns often compliment their buildings, and these buildings are pleasant to the eye, and inviting to clients. These properties are also energy efficient and are affordable, making them ideal for your business.
It can be difficult to find properties that meet both the location need as well as the space need. However, there are plenty of available locations that do meet these specific needs. You can find places as large as 10,000 square feet.

Property Management

Property management does more than offer leases to business owners. They also help take care of the building and surrounding landscape. All maintenance needs are taken care of in a reasonable amount of time, and you can rest assured that your place of business will stay at a comfortable temperature for your customers and employees—not too hot and not too cold. A management company hires the companies who clean, update, and take care of the buildings and manicured lawns. If there are any eyesores, they can be reported to the manager and they are taken care of quickly.

A good management team will also be very easy to work with. They often provide excellent customer service, putting the needs of their clients above their own. In fact, their entire business platform is to satisfy their clients just as you are trying to satisfy your own.

Retail space with Hi-Reit has on-site property managers. This means that they are physically there and ready to assist you with any maintenance need you may have.

Connecticut Real Estate Courses

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Not everybody is interested in real estate. And not everybody knows anything about this subject, much less about the specifics of Connecticut real estate. This is one of the main reasons why experts on Connecticut real estate have come up with Connecticut real estate courses so as to provide knowledge and information to those who want to learn about this subject.

What are Connecticut real estate courses?

There are various laws and ordinances that govern each state of the US. Also, there are laws and ordinances that are unique to one or two states only. That is why it is important to understand the specifics of Connecticut real estate if you are interested in this field.

Connecticut real estate courses assist people in learning the specifics of Connecticut real estate. These are actually classes where there are lectures and lessons regarding anything and everything that one should know about Connecticut real estate. These courses are mostly handled and taught by Connecticut real estate agents or by people who are already experts in this field.

What do these courses offer?

People who teach these courses offer different kinds of information. The classes are also handled differently by each one. However, the most common and the basic things taught in Connecticut real estate courses include the laws that govern Connecticut real estate, the duties and responsibilities of a Connecticut real estate agent, and the types of real estate found in Connecticut. There also are some courses that teach people how to enhance, improve, and hone their real estate skills of selling and buying.

Who can take Connecticut real estate courses?

Anyone who is interested in real estate can take these courses. Most of the time, people who are interested in becoming Connecticut real estate agents or who would like to own real estate businesses in the state are the ones who enroll in these courses.

An Egyptian Adventure

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The mysterious allure of an ancient civilisation and an overwhelming mythical and architectural heritage are just two of the inspiring reasons why every year millions of people head to Egypt for a taste of the unknown. Endless television documentaries and pieces of travel journalism will never truly portray the full grandeur of The Sphinx or The Pyramids of Giza, just as they will never entirely capture the intensity of the landscape's beauty surrounding The Nile no matter how rich a history of these cultural landmarks is provided. The fact is, Egypt is breathtaking - though such adjectives are rendered inadequate on first hand experience of the country.

There is a lot more to Egypt than its ancient artefacts, too. It has made its mark firmly within the contemporary cultural world on many counts. Firstly there is the Cairo International Film Festival, which aspires to bring peace and joy into the country, providing world wide cinematic material to the general public, opening people's eyes to the culture of their immediate vicinity and those that are strikingly different across the globe. The festival aims to promote cultural tolerance and is a celebration of humanity as well as art. Taking place in November, the film festival is a great excuse, as if one were needed, to see Cairo out of the main tourist season. For a wider snapshot of modern culture, take a look at the contemporary architectural work of designers such as Hassan Fathy and Ramses Wissa Wassef, and wander down to the spectacular Cairo Opera House while you're there.

For a taste of the quieter side of life, away from the gloriously bustling cities of Cairo, Alexandria, Sharm El Sheikh and Luxor (cities also hosting some of Egypt's busiest airports), head down to Sinai to experience deserted stretches of sandy beach and rugged red mountainous terrain stood stark against deep blue skies. The sunrises and sunsets are phenomenal in this most dramatic of scenic locations, as the vivid colours are bleached the sun's rising or fading light. It's even been known for the red sea to turn blood red in the sun's glow.

There are several things to consider when planning Egypt holidays. Tourist visas are easily obtainable but it is necessary to allow sufficient time for the process to complete prior to the departure date, and they do incur a small fee. Flights, however, are available cheaply from airlines such as Fly Monarch and shopping around online is always a great way to save money.

Egypt is a country full of surprises and cultural contradictions, where ancient civilisations live and breath amongst modern art, architecture, commerce and tourism. An entirely unique historical landscape has endowed Egypt with one of the richest cultural legacies in the world, making it an entirely unforgettable experience.

Why People Today Are Going For Internet Shopping More And More

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Today, more and more people are going for internet shopping or online shopping to solve their everyday needs. There are some benefits that come with this kind of shopping and these benefits have driven people to move from the traditional methods of shopping to use internet platforms. Shopping on the internet basically involves having buyers and sellers coming together on the internet and doing business online without having to meet in person. Goods and services can switch hands and money can also switch hands without people having to move from one place to another. The benefits of this kind of shopping are simply a lot.


Probably the biggest advantage of internet shopping is that it is convenient and makes shopping very smooth and easy for anyone. You do not need to move from the safety of your home or the confines of your office if you are looking to purchase something. All you have to do is make a few clicks online and you will be able to have something delivered right where you are. This convenience gives people the reason to rely on online shopping as compared to other traditional methods of shopping.


Internet shopping is very helpful because with this kind of shopping, one does not need to worry about moving from one shop to another while looking for something they might specifically like or want. On the internet, one can view many available options and this makes things very easy. You can look through many online stores within a very short period of time and you will not need to move tirelessly from one shop to another.

Better prices

Since the costs of having internet shopping platforms are lower than the costs of having physical selling platforms, the prices of the items sold online also turn out to be lower. Most of the goods and services that are sold online are much cheaper than those that are sold physically or in person. The costs incurred online are not as heavy and this is good for buyers because it allows them to get more goods and services for less.

Conducive timing

There are times when you might be planning to purchase something late in the night and you need it urgently. If you do not have an online option to purchase the item, it becomes very difficult for you because you might need to wait until the next day to be able to purchase that item. With internet shopping, you do not have to wait that long and you can make your purchases anytime during the day or night. This means that you do not have to rely on the times that the stores or shops will open or close but simply on when you can access the internet and make your order for whatever you are planning to purchase. The issue of timing is actually very beneficial if you are hoping to purchase something on a short notice.

Real Estate Investing Contracts on Toilet Paper

Monday, March 25, 2013

Even if your real estate contract has been written on toilet paper, it's valid.

Content of your real estate investing contract is what's important.

Your financial destiny in real estate investing is sealed BEFORE you walk into a real estate closing as a buyer. You have set in
concrete your profit (or loss) before you turn the door knob to enter the office of your attorney or title company at closing. The payoff of the transaction under anticipation is predetermined when the contract is signed between you as the buyer and the other party who is the seller.

The interpretation of these cold, hard words is that you must recognize the importance of the real estate contract that ties together the property transaction. Your contract contains implications for determining profits in advance.

When we strike a deal in real estate investing, we usually just reach for some pre-printed contract form that came from a real estate office or stationary store. We usually forfeit many of our closing rights to some stranger who put together traditional jargon and processes without recognizing that we ourselves have the right to charter this course. Subjecting ourselves to legalese of an attorney who may not even be a real estate investor nor own more than his own home is the pattern followed by most who purchase and sell real estate.

The first order of business in writing contracts is understanding that any sale or purchase of property is negotiable. While the payment of certain closing costs may be customary or traditional for the buyer and the seller, we are not bound by this protocol. Without differing specification in your contract to dictate your personal direction, the closing agent simply resorts to customary convention.

But by understanding your rights as buyer or seller of real estate property, you can actually INCREASE your profits on a transaction by the wording of your contract. However, these settlement terms must be in writing on your contract in advance of the closing. Otherwise, potential profits fly out the window.

One of the most euphoric feelings I have ever experienced in this business of real estate investing was walking out of a closing with a check payable to me for $75,000 on a package of a few cheap real estate properties! As with anyone, I had a use for that cash! But those profits were dictated on my special personal contract in advance of closing.

Much more cash at closing is available to real estate investors who take control of the options available by independently choosing wording in the content of their own purchase contract and sales contract. This choice is readily available to the real estate investing professional who understands these rights and applies them in the construction of a personal contract.

The suggestion in this article is not legal advice but encouragement to take advantage of an opportunity available in real estate investing. This suggestion is not encouragement to become greedy with legal rights but to give notification that negotiation is available over the dictates of closing costs. Sometimes transactions are profitable only when these considerations are understood.

Upper East Side

The Upper East Edge in New york city City is understood for dazzling residential, and it's the area to go if exactly what is desired is a dapper brand-new spot to live. The Upper East Edge is where every fad starts that is worthy of imitation. Individuals go there to be explored and be taken fashionable and popular, and that is precisely the explanation that a lot of celebs invest a lot time there.

The Upper East Edge's specialty is the truth that it is a rich borough that rests in between the East Waterway and Central Park. Central Park performs one side of this community with 59th Road and 96th Road beyond. As individuals look at the opulent realty options that are in front of their eyes, they understand that there is no any other community that has Manhattan apartments quite as unique, and proof of this is the truth that the Olsen Twins, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise have preferred to live there. This area additionally has range on its edge due to the fact that unique individualities like P. Diddy, Eleanor Roosevelt, the Marx Brothers and Woody Allen all used to reside on the Upper East Side. For long times, numerous personalities resided in this area, yet this location is a place that has something to offer those that aren't stars and starlets.

"Gallery mile" simply takes place to be on the Upper East Side, and it includes the several well-known galleries that are prominently shown along Fifth Avenue. Just some of the excellent museums that line this well-known street are the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Jewish Gallery, the Guggenheim Gallery, the Czech Center New York and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Those that prefer to purchase Manhattan apartments on Carnegie Hillside will certainly be in close proximity to the City Museum of New York that is practically located right in their own yards. Don't believe that the Upper East Edge just showcases famous artists due to the fact that new craftsmans could discover a house for their productions at the Frick Collection where lower well-known European musicians are currently showing their prizes.

The museums run out this globe, but so are the restaurants and high end co-ops that don't do the location's residents the injustice of requiring them to see garages or yards in the front of these households along Central Park and Lexington Opportunity. When people set foot in Yorkville, they actually learn what diversity indicates, and they discover the meaning in an area that is replete with past and liveliness. It's the spot where Czechs, Jews, Hungarians, Germans, Lebanese, Polish, Slovaks and Irish all co-existed harmoniously during the 1800s and 1900s.

Every swank outlet owner has to have a shop on the Upper East Edge on Madison and Fifth Avenues, and every severe buyer needs to be able to say that she saw this buying district at least once. Donna Karan Nyc, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, Valentino Dress shop and Calvin Klein all have stores right here. Exists everything delegated say? Customers will certainly feel completely satisfied after they invest a successful day finding new and unique clothing they couldn't locate anywhere else, and they will likewise have the delight of seeing the fascinating personalities that walk down exchanges.

For Manhattan flats that have just the most enviable facilities, check out the Upper East Edge.

The "Real Estate Bubble" is a Hoax

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Those who watch television and listen to the media long enough, more than likely will begin to hear about the real estate bubble and its affects on the national economy and stock market. Recently, the media has begun to talk about their theory that the bubble is soon to burst, and they have done an excellent job of creating a hype about their theory, which actually has no merit whatsoever. Before investors get taken away in a media hype that suggests the real estate bubble is going to break, one needs to get a basic understanding of the real estate market and how it works.

First of all, it is important to understand that, in reality, there is no national real estate market. The real estate market is much more localized and can not be studied or judged on a national level. From state to state, and even from town to town, the real estate market is going to vary greatly, and it is a grave error to try to base your understanding of real estate on a supposed national market that does not exist.

It is also important to understand that the real estate market as a whole neither explodes nor crashes. Real estate is a market that can go down in some areas while going up in other areas. Even when the market does appear to be going down in some places, much of the time it has only fallen flat instead of continuing to increase, which makes it appear like there is a problem with value going down. Even when the real estate market goes up or down, it takes a long time to see changes that occur across the board. While real estate prices do fluctuate and go through cycles, it is important to realize that the economy of a country is not going to crash if property values start to go down a bit or they hold steady instead of increasing.

Some people tend to view the real estate market as they do the stock market, and the two are very different. The real estate market cannot be viewed as a national market, and much of the time, it is actually based on local economies and how they are doing. On the other hand, the stock market is based on national merit and the rise and fall of the stock market has very little to do with the price of real estate.

In some communities, it is true that the price of real estate is going down, but if one looks closely, there are a variety of reasons that cause it to lose value. In some cases, it is simply the fact that a city has built too many new houses, which can make it appear as if the real estate market is going down. If you are going to invest in real estate, there are a variety of economic trends that you should consider to be sure that the market is going to stay strong in the area.

One thing that assures a strong real estate market is the arrival of more and more immigrants to the United States every year. Another thing that assures a strong real estate market is the later age at which people are getting married. Many are not getting married until they are in their middle to late 30s and this is resulting in even more single people purchasing their own homes. The interest rates are also helping to keep the real estate market strong, and since they are lower than ever before, it is easy for people to get the home loan they need.

Those who are interested in investing in real estate need to throw away the concept of the real estate bubble and the idea of a national real estate market. Broad statistics, including national, state, and even city statistics, will, in reality, be no help when you are looking for properties to invest in. It is more important that investors look closely at the real estate market in certain neighborhoods and communities and that they look at relevant material such as average prices in the area, number of times the property has been on the market, and how the sales prices have changed since the last year. Keeping your focus local and small will help you find the best real estate investment properties.

While the media may be trying to convince people that the real estate bubble is about to burst and that there may be a real estate market crash, there is no proof to back this up. In some cases, people are not building as many homes as a result of this news and it is actually causing real estate prices to go up since the demand is high and the supply is low. Investors need to understand that the market need not affect how successful they can be as a real estate investor. Investors that understand how real estate works will be able to find great investment properties that will make them money.

Being successful as a real estate investor does not depend on the market or the real estate bubble, but it depends on how good an investor is at their job. Those who take the time to study communities and to look at local statistics will be able to find the best places to invest. If an investor relies on the media, there may be failure in the future, but a well planned and well studied investment can lead to profit and success.

Interview with Elle Newmark, author of "Bones of the Dead"

Friday, March 22, 2013

Elle Newmark is an award-winning writer whose books are inspired by her travels; she explored the back streets of Venice to cook up her delicious novel, "Bones of The Dead." Elle also trekked through the rainforests of Costa Rica to write "The Cloud Forest," and she toured India by car and elephant to write "The Devil's Wind." Both new books will be coming out soon, but today she is here to talk about "Bones of The Dead."

Tyler: Welcome, Elle. I'm glad you could join me today. First of all, I understand "Bones of The Dead" is a novel with a bit of a mystery, set in fifteenth century Venice. How did you become interested in fifteenth century Venice, and what made you decide to make it the setting for your novel?

Elle: The Renaissance is an incredibly rich period for a writer to tap. Man waking up from a long intellectual nap-art, science, humanism all exploding at the same time-and most of it happening in Italy, my ancestral home. How could I resist?

Of course, Venice is utterly unique. A city of palaces built on water is an outrageous idea, and yet there it is. It's fabulous-the pageantry, the architecture, the history-fabulous! I lived in Europe for seven years and I've traveled on almost every continent, but I've never seen any place quite like Venice.

To quote my narrator: "Venice has always been a perfect setting for secrets, seduction and the melancholy thoughts of a poet. Tainted by iniquity, Venice invites moral surrender, not with a playful wink, but with the understanding that she is, and always has been, sluttish under her regal disguise." That's perfect for "Bones of The Dead."

Tyler: The main character, Luciano, is apprenticed to the doge's chef, and together they become involved in a dangerous adventure. How would you describe their relationship?

Elle: In a rather Dickensian move, the chef plucks orphaned Luciano off a squalid street and takes him into the palace kitchen. Luciano is grateful, even though the chef has ulterior motives; he has a long-standing wish for a son and he needs an heir to a secret legacy. The chef is an enigmatic character whose real mission is slowly revealed.

But the chef and Luciano come to love each other as father and son. The chef becomes Luciano's mentor, his protector, and his teacher-his father in the truest sense.

Tyler: In your book you use food as metaphor to advance the plot. You say, "Intrigue escalates and schemes thicken like stew while the enigmatic chef uses metaphorical soufflés and mysterious sauces to guide Luciano through a dangerous but delicious maze." Why did you choose to use food as a metaphor?

Elle: My father is a master chef, so I suppose food-as-metaphor was inevitable. I grew up in an Italian family, and food played a central role, not only on special occasions but every day. My first job, at the age of ten, was stuffing homemade ravioli on a long, pasta-covered table in our basement. Of course, I learned to cook, and I've often thought the preparation of food is loaded with metaphorical possibilities. Also, I just like the notion of a culinary historical.

We talk that way all the time, don't we? "Variety is the spice of life," "You are what you eat," "Dry as toast," "The salt of the earth," "Peaches and cream complexion," "He stewed in his own juices." Food engages all our senses. Everyone loves the satisfying crunch of peanuts, the narcotic aroma of fresh bread, the sight of ripe cherries, the sound of sizzling bacon. Food overwhelms the senses. One wonders whether we consume food or it consumes us.

As for metaphors, could there be a more perfect metaphor for the impermanence of life than a soufflé? Well, maybe a rose, but that's a cliché. The soufflé blooms, it's magnificent, and then it's gone. Either you were present to appreciate it or you missed it. The chef's spiritual message is "Be here now." I'm Buddhist, so I guess when a Buddhist writer grows up with a chef you're going to get soufflés instead of roses.

Tyler: I understand the plot revolves around Luciano learning that powerful men are plotting to unearth an ancient book rumored to contain heresies, love potions, alchemy, and even the secret of immortality. Where did you get the idea for this book?

Elle: Books were tremendously important during the Renaissance-the printing press was new and it was the dawn of humanism. Until then, the power structure in Europe maintained iron-fisted control of the people by limiting the flow of knowledge. When books presented crazy new ideas (like the earth revolving around the sun) there was trouble. Books were always monitored for seditious content.

However, there's no squelching human ingenuity. People find inventive ways to protect their ideas, like the scrolls stuffed into jars and hidden in caves near the Dead Sea. The chef hid his subversive ideas in plain sight-he encoded them in recipes. One way or another, the written word is preserved to illuminate the past and show the way forward.

In "Bones of The Dead," is about a book that holds forbidden secrets. Human nature being what it is, everyone thinks the book has what he wants most. Luciano wants a love potion, the old doge doesn't want to die, one person wants gold, and another wants power. No one knows exactly what's in this book, but they all know what they want it to be.

Tyler: Immortality and alchemy have frequently appeared as dreams or goals in fiction. What do you find fascinating about them?

Elle: I find them interesting for the same reason everyone else does. Immortality fascinates because no one wants to die. We try to fool ourselves into thinking we don't age-we dye the gray out of our hair and we spend billions on wrinkle creams, diet plans, and cosmetic surgery because we idolize youthful beauty. Getting old isn't cool because it smacks of death.

In spite of all that, we do die, but we achieve immortality by what we leave behind. Whether we intend it or not, we all leave something, even if it's only a mote of DNA. Most of us make an effort to leave something more meaningful-art, skills, ideas, values. I believe we achieve immortality by passing these things along to the next generation. That's why I dedicated this novel to teachers.

Oh, and alchemy, yes, that's an old favorite because it speaks to something embedded deep in the human psyche. Alchemy is about greed and a wish to believe in magic. If people didn't fantasize about getting rich quick, the lottery would go broke. Last time I checked it was doing astonishingly well.

Tyler: Why did you choose "Bones of The Dead" for the title?

Elle: The title works on several levels. First there is a scene in which the doge and the pope's astrologer eat Italian cookies called bones of the dead. As the characters munch through the bones of the dead, they talk about the illusion of defeating death, and this introduces the theme of immortality.

Second, all the churches in Europe have catacombs and bones of saints preserved as relics. The chef points out that they are only bones, only symbols of the real legacies-lives lived with courage and wisdom, the things he wants to teach Luciano.

Third, as the chef tells Luciano, "Civilizations are built on the bones of the dead." Teachers of every description pass knowledge from one generation to the next, and thus humanity advances. That's why I chose the quote from Sir Isaac Newton for my epigraph: "If I have seen farther than other men, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants."

Tyler: I understand the book has some political intrigue involving the Church. The novel sounds like it has a conspiracy theory feel to it. Do you feel the issues in it speak to the world's current state of affairs?

Elle: Any novel worth its fictional salt speaks to the world in its current state, that is, to some universal theme. In medieval times, the Church wielded political influence and popes conspired with heads of state. During the Renaissance, free thinkers challenged that power structure. These days, it might not be the pope, but we all know that far-reaching deals are made behind the scenes. Politics are politics, then and now.

"Bones of The Dead" carries the message that we don't have to be personally defeated by shrouded power struggles at the top. We can choose to live with decency and purpose, no matter what plots are hatching behind closed doors.

But if, by conspiracy theory, you're referring to the passages about the Gnostic gospels and Jesus, well, there's nothing in my novel that hasn't been suggested before. It's not new; it's just controversial.

Tyler: Which writers or books would you say have influenced you in your writing?

Elle: Oh, there are so many. Early influences were the two Johns-Steinbeck and Updike. Steinbeck for his humanity, and Updike for lives imagined down to the last quirky detail. I also love the magical realists-Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabelle Allende in particular-for the way they bend reality and take me along for the ride. Ian McEwan stuns me with his ability to portray the dark side of human nature with insight and compassion. Ann Patchett has a lovely gentle touch; Rohintin Mistry offers us a moving and unflinching look at India; Toni Morrison colors outside the lines, but brilliantly; Tim O'Brien depicts war with an admirable willingness to mine his own pain; Sebastian Faulks draws me into foreign landscapes of time and mind; Kasuo Isaguro is a genius...

Honestly, there are so many fine writers out there I could go on forever. I wish everyone would just go to a library, go to a bookstore, and try new authors. Experiment.

Tyler: What about writing historical fiction intrigues you, and do you find anything specifically difficult or frustrating about it?

Elle: I love everything about historical fiction-reading it, writing it, and researching it. What broader canvas could I ask for than the history of mankind? And what richer palette could I use than the tapestry of human experience? The historical writer draws on vast resources of human behavior, but with the benefit of hindsight.

Tyler: Would you tell us a little bit about the next two novels you have coming out?

Elle: "The Cloud Forest" tells a story of indigenous people in an Amazonian rainforest and their struggle to escape the intrusion of the 20th century. Researching that book took more than a year, as well as an unforgettable trek through a rainforest.

"The Devil's Wind" is set in India, 1948, the year of Partition and Gandhi. That one is about the power of forgiveness, and researching it took me to India. Elephants are surprisingly easy to ride.

Tyler: Obviously you love to travel. What is it about traveling that inspires your writing?

Elle: A sense of displacement kicks my creativity into high gear. In familiar surroundings it's easy to get into a routine and walk around half awake. But when you travel, everything is new, you don't know what's around the next corner and you're awake to every moment. I'm addicted to that feeling of discovery.

To experience the world and its people is a great and humbling adventure. To write about it is a way of understanding and sharing.

Tyler: Where do you plan to travel next, and will you be researching another book?

Elle: I'd love to go back to Africa just to see more of it and, who knows, a book could come out of that. But right now I'm thinking my next book might take place in cyberspace.

I'm fascinated by the meeting-of-the-minds happening on the Internet. These days, many of us live a good chunk of our lives virtually and, as a result, our internal worlds are becoming significantly larger. We interact with people we would never otherwise encounter in our daily lives. This is unprecedented, and I'm interested in how it's changing us.

Tyler: Thank you for joining me today, Elle. Before we go, would you tell our readers where they find out more about "Bones of The Dead" and where to buy a copy?

Elle: With pleasure: You can visit my website at http://www.ellenewmark.com, or order "Bones of The Dead" from Amazon.

As my personal thank you, I'd like to invite everyone to a virtual Renaissance party at http://www.bonesofthedead.com on November 27. If you order Bones of The Dead that day, you can use your Amazon confirmation number as a password to get into the party. We'll have music, I'll be serving food for thought, and I'll be giving away a bundle of free downloads as party favors. Invite everyone.

How Debt Consolidation Loans With Bad Credit Can Solve Your Financial Problems

It is an unfortunate truth that more and more people are struggling to meet their monthly debt repayments, and that an increasing number are applying for bankruptcy. But there are more constructive solutions to this problem and, in many respects, seeking a debt consolidation loan with bad credit is more desirable.

The reason that bankruptcy should be a last resort is that the consequences can be severe and last a significant length of time. This is mainly because it involves writing off debts without actually repaying them. But consolidation makes clearing debts immediately more practical, and with no great damage to a credit reputation

But as with all loans available, there are conditions to getting debt consolidation loans, and securing the right terms is essential if the exercise is to be of any real benefit.

Consolidation Explained

So, what exactly is consolidation, and how can getting a debt consolidation loan with bad credit be of any really benefit to a borrower? While some might say taking on a new loan is a negative move, the benefits are pretty clear.

The key concept behind consolidation is that funds are secured to buy out the existing debts in one go. By clearing debts immediately, and replacing them with a single, more cost-effective and more manageable debt, the pressure to meet repayments is lessened.

Simply put, 4 individual loans will each come with 4 individual interest rates that together prove to be more expensive than a single interest rate on a single loan would be. So, a debt consolidation loan can be used to lower the pressure to meet monthly obligations.

Key Advantages of Debt Consolidation

Of course, while making monthly repayments easier to meet is a definite advantage, there are more benefits to be enjoyed. For example, even getting a debt consolidation loan with bad credit presents an opportunity to achieve an improved credit score.

This is because repaying any debt affects the credit report, and ultimately improves the credit score a borrower has. By clearing debts immediately, the improvement can be significant with 3 or 4 or 5 loans all being repaid in one go.

However, there is also a significant improvement in the debt-to-income ratio of the borrower. Depending on the terms of the debt consolidation loan, the monthly obligation can fall by as much as 50%. In some cases, the term of the loan is a lengthy 30 years. This slashes the size of the repayments, thus increasing the excess income available.

Choosing The Right Debt Consolidation Program

So, how can an applicant find the right terms, and the right consolidation program? Well, it does depend on your specific debt, but the good news is that securing a debt consolidation loan with bad credit is not a major feat. After all, the purpose of consolidation is to help bad credit borrowers anyway.

Qualifying for these loans comes down to criteria that are similar to those for regular loans, but there is usually an insistence that full-time employment be held for at least 6 months before submitting the application. The advantage of clearing debts immediately makes the wait (if necessary) worthwhile.

And like so many financial products, the best place to get a debt consolidation loan is online where a selection of professional debt consolidation companies can be found. However, check their terms and conditions closely as a fee is required for their services, which can affect the effectiveness of the consolidation agreement.

Real Estate Commission - A Corrupting Influence

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Real estate commission is the way in which real estate agents are paid for the services they provide. They receive a percentage of the price received for the property. Effectively, the real estate agent requires the seller of a property (the vendor) to sign over to the real estate agent a part of the property being sold.

Another way of looking at it is to say that the real estate agent, through the wording of the listing contract, effectively has his name added to the title deed of the vendor's property, so that the real estate agent becomes a part-owner of the property. When the property sells, the real estate agent receives a payment that represents his share in the vendor's property.

Most readers will be aware of the arguments in favour of real estate sale commissions, so I won't discuss those here. My focus is on the ways in which the sale process can be skewed against all parties involved, when the motivation to win a commission takes precedence over more important considerations.

Commission is a "winner-takes-all, loser gets nothing" situation. This increases the pressure on the real estate agent to secure a sale. Time is also a problem. If the real estate agent cannot secure a sale within a time acceptable to the vendor, the vendor may take the property off the market, or away from the real estate agent's agency. This will result in a total loss for the real estate agent.

Finally, the vendor becomes an obstacle between the real estate agent and his commission goal. In order to receive payment for his share of the vendor's property, the real estate agent must receive an offer to purchase within the available time, but the offer must be accepted by the vendor. If the vendor decides that the offer is not acceptable, then the real estate agent loses.

In order to win the gambling game that is real estate sales, the real estate agent may decide to tip the odds in his favour - and there are numerous ways in which this can be done.

At the listing stage the real estate agent may use improper means to win the listing contract. These include over-quoting on valuation, and offering dodgy sales figures.

During the sale process the real estate agent may be tempted to tell potential purchasers things that are untrue. I have seen many sale contracts with clauses designed to protect real estate agents against the consequences of false statements. Known as "porkies clauses", they invariably state that the purchaser acknowledges that any information provided to the purchaser by the real estate agent is provided on the understanding that the purchaser will not be relying on it for any purpose.

When a purchaser has submitted an offer, and the purchaser cannot be convinced to increase her offer, the real estate agent may be tempted to pressure the vendor into accepting what would otherwise be unacceptable. Observations, such as "the market has softened" or "the market has spoken to us" are used by real estate agents to convince vendors that the real estate agent's high estimation of value can no longer be relied upon, and that the vendor should now accept what the vendor believes is an unacceptably low offer.

For some years now, I have been arguing that real estate services should be provided on a fee-for-service basis.

I will explore the replacement of real estate sale commissions with a fee-for-service structure further in future articles.

Real Estate Leads 101:A System For Success

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

When dealing with real estate leads and converting leads to clients, there are three important questions to ask yourself:

1. How are you getting real estate leads?

2. How are you following up with your real estate leads?

3. Are you using a system for effective follow up?

How to Get Real Estate Leads

For questions 2 and 3 to even be an issue, you first have to figure out a way to GET real estate leads. You can't follow up with something you don't have! There are several traditional ways for real estate agents to collect real estate leads in their pipeline. One way is the direct marketing approach - basically you send out a whole lot of newsletters, fliers, and postcards with your contact information to homes in the neighborhood you're farming for real estate leads. If you start getting calls and emails, you've started building your own pipeline.

A second way of getting real estate leads is to network and ask past clients for referrals. As a real estate agent, you should always be talking to be people in the outside world, letting them know what you do, handing off business cards. Whether you're at a sports event, a dinner party or you're child's school play, there are plenty of opportunities to build real estate leads. Never be afraid to call on old clients for referrals either - if you did your job right,t hey should be more than happy to send friends and family your way.

A third way to get real estate leads is through internet marketing. In this case, I mean building your own website with contact pages as well as subscribing to some kind of online lead generation service. By doing both, you can both harness your own real estate leads and also get plenty of leads from an outside source.

My advice? Go with all three. A good mix of direct mailings, networking, and internet marketing should have your pipeline a mile long with real estate leads. Keep in mind though that you will have to spend a little money to get all those leads!

Following up with Real Estate Leads

Without follow up, your real estate leads will be leads forever, never clients. Following up simply means to increase the effectiveness or success of something with further action. Following up with real estate leads can involve phone calls, emails, direct mailings, dropping by the property, etc. Basically, use any means necessary (within reason) to make contact with your real estate leads to determine what you can do for them. It may take 2 weeks of follow up to convert a lead, it may take 2 months, it may even take 3 years, but as long as you are consistent and persistent with follow up tactics, you can convert your real estate leads into clients.

One thing to keep in mind with follow up is that you should always have a reason to be contacting your real estate leads. Don't give them to much information in one mailing, or else you use up your reason for contacting them at a later date. Instead, send them pieces of useful information regularly over extended periods of time. It doesn't even necessarily have to be directly relating to home buying or selling - you can send them information about their community they may not know, the schools, job opportunities in an area you know they were thinking about moving to, the standings for the little league championship their son was in, etc. The information you're sending your real estate leads should be a individualized for each lead.

Are you going to convert all your real estate leads? No. Do you need to convert them all? No. Should you still TRY to convert them all? Always! Most people will need a real estate agent at some stage in their life, so you might as well be the agent right there to help them out, answer any questions and keep them informed with useful information.

Employing a System for Follow Up

A system is simply any formulated, regular or special method or plan of a procedure for obtaining an objective. In the case of real estate, your objective is to convert real estate leads to clients through follow up. Your system of follow up is simply an organized, efficient and general procedure to get in contact with your leads.

Without some sort of system of following up with your real estate leads, it's very easy to waste precious time because of disorganization. Having a system is the most effective way to streamline your follow up so you still have time to actually list and sell your clients' homes! After all, with hundreds of real estate leads to constantly follow up with, when are you supposed to have time for listing presentations, settlement, advertising homes for sale, etc?

By having your own organized plan of follow up, you can dedicate certain hours in your day to your follow up of real estate leads. There are services out there that "sell" follow up systems to real estate agents, but they're really not necessary for everybody. If you're already disciplined and organized, there's no reason you can't formulate your own system of follow up, like designing several email templates, dedicating a certain amount of time each day to phone calls and creating an easy to access, track and monitor database of your real estate leads which includes all the important contact information needed to get in touch with them.

A system can be something as simple as creating a schedule for yourself and then rigidly adhering to that schedule. Having a systematic approach to following up with your real estate leads is the best way to maximize your conversion rate and minimize time spent following up.

Thinking of Buying Sarasota Real Estate? Check Out Palmer Ranch!

Increasingly, people looking to purchase Sarasota real estate are finding Palmer Ranch. This master planned community in South Sarasota stretches over 10,000 acres. The community is actually comprised of many subdivisions, ranging from 1 bedroom condos to luxurious mansions on the golf course. Palmer Ranch has sidewalks lining every street, and has been developed in such a way that the overwhelming impression as you drive through - is GREEN. Attractive landscaping and a high standard of housing design, which keeps homes largely hidden behind trees and landscaped berms, combine to make this area an oasis. No commercial development is allowed within its borders; Palmer Ranch is purely residential.

The Sarasota real estate buyer soon discovers the incentive beyond the beauty on Palmer Ranch - the community is strategically located only 4 miles from the south causeway to world famous Siesta Key. It is a quick 15 minute ride to be in the heart of Sarasota's downtown and gorgeous bayfront. With one of the highest rated school combinations in Sarasota (Ashton Elementary, Sarasota Middle School and Riverview High School), families flock to Palmer Ranch.

Although there are no commercial interests inside the borders, everything is close by. Shopping and dining is ample; the renovated shopping mall with its new 12 screen movie theater sits within minutes, and a state of the art YMCA, complete with waterparks for the kids, sits right at the border. Sarasota real estate doesn't get any more convenient than this.

The Legacy Trail and the Imagine School are two of the newest additions to our area. The Legacy Trail
is a bike/walking path currently stretching over 17 miles replacing the old railroad tracks. Heavily wooded on either side and protected from traffic, this is a scenic and popular way to enjoy Florida weather - from moms with strollers to athletes training for the marathon. The Imagine School is a charter magnet school that just opened on the northern border of Palmer Ranch, giving parents an opportunity to more actively participate in their students academic life.

Buyers of Sarasota real estate have many options, but Palmer Ranch is a popular choice. I should know. I live there too.

Five Key Principles to Real Estate Investment Riches

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Real Estate Investing is the craze today with people involved in the Carlton Sheets program spending money on courses to find out how they can make money in no money down real estate investing. This article hopes to help you create some sort of mental picture of five key principles that can help you make more money with real estate today.

Principle #1- The money is made in the purchase

Real estate investing is like value investing in stocks and you want to purchase the real estate during a period of a real estate slump. The reason for this is so that you can get a huge capital appreciation when the real estate market heats up again.

Spending time doing real estate valuation is critical since if you cannot satisfy yourself on the maths that is a viable proposition, there is no way that your real estate investment would be a good one.

Principle #2- Monitor Cash flow

Real Estate investment typically have a monthly rental income which then is used to pay for mortgage instalments and other problems with the building like a roof leak. You would thus have to keep a close watch on interest rate hikes since they can potentially erode any calculated return on investment quite quickly. Once you have enough cash coming in, it is suggested that you then keep some of it in a rainy day fund in case some of the rental tenants do not renew their property and then take the rest and consider investing in another real estate investment property.

Principle #3- Leverage on other people's time

Remember that no one can do everything, so the key is to focus on what you do best. If your strength is in negotiating deals, spend time looking for property and then get professionals and contractors to handle all the rest of the deal for you. Similarly, if you are good at decorating property, then find deals and focus on the interior design of the property. By focusing on what you do best and getting other people to do the rest of the work, you are leveraging on their time and you can then make more money from each new real estate investment that you undertake. Spend your time to build your team of advisors and employees who work for you and you will see your profits start going up. Remember that by rewarding them financially, you will get a group of dedicated people helping you make more money from your real estate investment.

Principle #4- Learn how to use leverage with a good rainy day cash balance

Did you know that many real estate investors started off with very little money to invest? Even large real estate developers like Donald Trump have learnt the power of leverage when investing in property deals. You want to leverage as much as you can so that you can control property worth many times more than what you own. Remember however to keep a rainy day fund containing a portion of the rental payments so that you can hedge yourself against a possible period where unit occupancy of your real estate investment is low. Leverage when used well can make you lots of money but if managed badly, will bankrupt you. Thus planning your cash flow and learning how to use debt is critical before you start serious real estate investment.

Principle #5- Spend time networking with real estate professionals

Do you want the latest real estate investment deals? The best way to learn of them is to break into the local real estate professional group and make friends with them. Learn some real estate investment lingo and spend time making friends with them because they are your eyes and ears on the ground and they can tell you about recent developments and changes in rental, property and infrastructure of their geographical location. Having the first player advantage is what many large real estate investors have and by spending time to network with real estate brokers, you will substantially close the gap.

In conclusion, spend time looking at these five principles and determine how they can be applied to your real estate investment and you might start seeing an increase in your real estate income.

By Joel Teo 2006 All Rights Reserved

Student Loan Consolidation Programs: Fast And Effective College Debt Repayment Method

There is no denying the cost of attending college is not cheap. Unless a scholarship can be secured, there is little chance of getting through a 4-year course without requiring a number of loans to finance tuition and living expenses. The good news is that student loan consolidation programs make the task of repaying those loans much easier.

By the time graduation comes, the average student in the US faces $30,000 debts. This statistic means practically every graduate begins their working life in debt, and never really gets out of it. Clearing college debts, therefore, is a priority, but finding an affordable way to do so is the trick.

But through consolidation, which allows for the repayment of a number of student loans in one go, the most affordable method is available. However, there are some issues to consider before signing up to one.

The Mechanics of Consolidation Programs

The way that student loan consolidation programs work is to clear all of the existing individual college loans through a single consolidation loan. But while this may seem like replacing multiple debt with one other, there are factors that make it a highly-effective cost-reducing option.

On average, students take out between 4 and 6 loans over the course of their college careers. This means that as many as 6 interest rates and 6 different repayment schedules have to be managed. This means a complex and highly expensive financial arrangement, making the challenge of clearing college debts as difficult as it can get.

But replacing 6 loans with one creates a less complex arrangement, and because there is just one interest rate to worry about, the cost of the debt is significantly lower too. Often the student loans are replaced by a long-term consolidation loan, ensuring the monthly repayments are kept to a minimum.

The Benefits of a Program

There are several short and long-term benefits to be enjoyed by opting for a student loan consolidation program. The most obvious is that the debt accrued in college is repaid in full, but there is more to it than that.

Consolidating loans provides a chance to free up extra cash. Clearing college debts is accomplished, but the cost of repaying the consolidation loan is much lower than the original loans. If there are 6 loans with 6 different interest rates charged, the total repayments may be as high as $1,000, but this could fall to just $400 depending on terms.

Once the student loans are repaid in full, the credit score of the borrower is adjusted upwards. It does not matter than a loan was used to repay the debts. All that matters is that the individual loans were cleared. And with better scores, lower interest rates are charged on future loans.

The Affordable Repayment Option

The bottom line is, of course, that through student loan consolidation programs, crippling student debts are finally dealt with. But the terms of the program have to be right to ensure the maximum benefit is enjoyed. The lowest possible monthly repayment sum makes the deal as affordable as possible.

There are options that ensure that the repayments are kept low. The first is the interest rate, and searching for the lowest rates may require some time spent online. Thankfully, the development of comparison sites mean that chore is now easier than before.

Clearing college debts efficiently is also accomplished by choosing a consolidation loan with the longest term. This means the principal is divided into a greater number of shares, therefore greatly lowering the monthly repayment sum.

With terms as long as 30 years available, the repayments can be extremely low, and once that is accomplished, and the student loans are paid off, the pressure diminishes to almost nil.

Thomas Cole - The Father of American Landscape Painting

Friday, March 15, 2013

Nineteenth century American artist, Thomas Cole was born on February 1, 1801, at Bolton, Lancashire in Northwestern England. The founder of the American art movement 'Hudson River School,' Thomas is an established name in 'Romanticism' and 'Naturalism.'

His early education in arts swung around the domains, wood engraving and calico painting, until his family immigrated to Steubenville, Ohio, America, in 1818. Here, Thomas learned the essentials of painting from a portrait painter, Stein. His interests however, gradually tilted towards landscape painting. In 1823, the Coles moved to Pittsburg, where Thomas began to draw painstakingly detailed sketches of the city's highly picturesque scenery. The artist then shifted to Philadelphia in 1824, where he worked with the members of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. This association brought him the privilege of displaying his canvasses at the Academy's exhibitions.

In 1825, he moved to New York, back to his family. The city's esteemed artists and patrons admiringly noticed his works. He sold his paintings to finance his summer trip to Hudson Valley. Here he explored the haunting beauty of Catskill Mountain house and its wilderness. One of his prominent works, "Gelyna, View near Ticonderoga" took him to the highs of fame everywhere, bringing eminence to his works. Soon, his stature elevated, and he was appointed a member of the National Academy.

During 1829-1831, he traveled to Britain, France, and Italy, to study the great historical works at various art galleries there. His stay in Italy, from 1831 to 1832, supplemented his imagination with noble themes and ideas, and from this point on, his paintings began carrying the hard-core 'Romantic' spirit. During this period only, Luman Reed, a New York based merchant, became Cole's patron for whom the artist produced his best-known series of paintings, "The Course of Empire (1834-36)," depicting the progress of a society from the savage state to a zenith of luxury, eventually leading to its dissolution and extinction.

November 22, 1836, added a new chapter in Thomas' life, when he tied knot with Maria Bartow at Cedar Grove, where he eventually settled for life. The couple had five children. During his second trip to Europe (1840-1842), Cole developed a mastery over his art of using colors. He would brilliantly recreate the atmospheric magic, particularly that of sky. He painted his second great series of work, "Voyage of Life (1840)," during his this second spell at Europe.

Although, Cole was a landscape painter, his allegoric creations embodied the same intellectual content. Some of his other celebrated works were, "The Garden of Eden (1828)," "The Oxbow (The Connecticut River near Northampton) (1836)," "The Departure (1837)," "The Return (1837)," "The Past (1838)," "The Present (1838)," "L'Allegro (Italian Sunset) (1845)," and "Il Penseroso (1845)." On February 11, 1848, the maestro breathed his last, at Catskill, leaving behind his rich legacy, and a firm foundation for the continued growth of the American landscape painting.

Seattle Real Estate Agencies

Are you thinking of selling or buying a property in Seattle but do not know where to start? If you are, then you need a Seattle real estate agency to help you in selling or buying your property.

Seattle real estate agencies help find sellers for those who want to buy real estate and help find buyers for those who are trying to sell their real estate. They have real estate agents that assist sellers in marketing their properties to prospective buyers and who are able to sell the property at the highest possible price under the best terms. Real estate agents also help buyers to purchase a property with the best possible price and with a price range reasonable for their budget.

If you plan to sell a property in Seattle, real estate agencies will have your property listed for sale to the public. They will also assist you in preparing the papers that describe the property for marketing purposes. After which, they advertise your property and even put a "for sale" sign on your property that indicates where to contact the real estate agent. In some cases, they hold an open house to show the property to prospective buyers.

On the other hand, if you are a buyer of Seattle real estate, the real estate agencies will find a property in Seattle that will be in accordance with your needs, specifications, and budget. They will take you to some locations of properties that are for sale and give you details of each. However, they will have to prescreen your financial capability to see if you are really financially qualified to buy the property shown.

With all these services provided by Seattle real estate agencies to real estate buyers and sellers, it does make a lot of sense to have one to assist you in your selling and purchasing decision. However, you have to be very careful when choosing a real estate agency because nowadays there are many who operate without the proper license. You have to see to it that the agency has professional real estate agents who obtained a broker's license.

Major Uk Payday Loan Lender Taken Over By An American Corporation

Bury St Edmunds based Fortress, founded in 2004, continues to grow fast to turn into considered one of the UKs major cash advance lending businesses. Fortress is an fully online loan provider, and was set up with very best of breed IT techniques and compliance processes to let it to be scalable. It is growing rapidly since creation and a current review found it to be one of the leading five players in the industry. Fortress, which sells under the brand name 1 Month Loan offers quick unsecured loans to private individuals generally known as payday loans as they are designed to be paid back on payday. Such lending products have higher interest rates but their expense compares more positively to unauthorized overdraft facilities and they are a great deal easier to obtain than bank funding. For the consumers they are easy and confidential.

The business, which works totally online and sells under the name "1 Month Loan", was launched in Cambridge in 2004 but moved in 2009 to Bury, where it presently employs about 50 men and women. The value of Think Finance's purchase is not being disclosed, but Fortress chief executive Kieran Moulden claimed that, as a consequence of the new finance, the corporation planned to increase its internet business 10-fold, and increase its labourforce to between 150 and 200 over the next two years. These work opportunities would all be primarily based in Bury, he added, with the village having been determined in 2009 as an great place for growth and there being no plans to move or start offices in a different place as a consequence of the company's purchase.

Payday credit is a mature industry in the Usa without a doubt there are a lot more payday lending shops than there are branches of McDonalds. The UNITED KINGDOM market is less developed but rising swiftly and is attractive to US acquirers as shown by the new arrangement by NASDAQ listed Dollar Financial Corp to purchase Purpose UK Holding the biggest UK payday lender for ?124M

Think Finance is certainly one of the USs best growing non-public businesses with three year profit growth of over 70% . Think Finance delivers revolutionary financial solutions which supply under-banked consumers with superior solutions for their financial demands mixing comfort, affordability, and transparency. Set up in 2001, Think Finance has served over 1 million buyers. The firm is privately held and backed by some of Silicon Valleys most respectable venture capital corporations, which includes Sequoia Capital and Technology Crossover Ventures. Think Finance will offer capital to support Fortresss enlargement. All of the Fortress Directors will remain with the company to direct its development.

Why Mortgage Protection Insurance Is A Good Idea For A Homeowner

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mortgage protection insurance is smart for any homeowner to obtain in case of a financial emergency. Families can never be certain of what could happen in the event of hospitalisation, a disability (such as sickness or an accident), or unemployment. Whatever the case, home insurance is crucial.

In the Ireland, mortgage protection insurance offers several benefits and is more prominent now than it has ever been. Even employees that are put at the forefront of most positions are now finding even themselves out of work; this does not mean that they deserve to lose their homes. The biggest loss amongst most families in Ireland is their home mortgage.

mortgage protection insurance
Since large amount people currently remain unemployed, all of these people have lost their source of income. Mortgage protection ensures that their insurance provider will cover their mortgage payments, if needed. A job-loss rider is always smart to include on your protection plan. This rider prohibits the home from foreclosure, and allows an individual to focus on seeking employment in Ireland.

Individuals will have several factors considered once they get ready to apply for (and purchase) mortgage protection. The premium will depend on different factors, as well. Premiums for mortgage protection insurance are the paid amount for a home insurance policy to remain active. The likelihood that an individual may lose his or her job will be a substantial factor in figuring a premium. If the employer of the purchaser has been cutting jobs rapidly, this means that their employment is at risk. Since the job market is such a definite factor in the premium cost, it will solely depend upon whether or not a person has an immense risk with a job loss. If so, premiums will automatically become more expensive.

Not only will home insurance premiums be higher if the loss-of-employment risk is high, but also if the future risk of the job at a great chance. When job risk is at an ultimate high in the future, the policyholder’s premium will increase. This- in most cases- does not seem to be fair, because many times, this cannot actually hold true for every single prediction; however, this is another factor that many Irish insurance companies take into consideration. For further notice, all mortgage protection insurance premiums are based from current and future recession.

home insurance premiums
If a home owner in Ireland is making modest mortgage payments monthly, the chance that the mortgage protection is more affordable than that of a higher mortgage, is very likely. The good thing: the less expensive the monthly payments on the mortgage, the faster a home insurance company will be to offer cheaper mortgage protection coverage.

Choosing an insurance company should always be done carefully. The same way they have several factors to consider with a policyholder, an insurer should have several to consider when choosing them. These are the people that are going to protect someone from losing their home in an unstable economy. Careful consideration should be applied, because different companies have different policies, rates, and regulations. Some insurance companies will even offer potential clients a free quote before they commit to anything. This free overview usually always is helpful, so the customer can calculate their premium and view the coverage details beforehand, in order to make a thorough decision.

Extraordinary Landscapes

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

In the summer of 2007, a curatorial team from George Eastman House invited twelve photographers to photograph the sites designated by The Cultural Landscape Foundation as their 2007 Landslide landscapes. The photographs focus on culturally significant landscapes at risk of alteration or destruction, and include trees and other plantings that have witnessed or withstood major cultural or natural events.

In this exhibition of work the focus is on celebrated botanical heroes that have withstood the test of time Ranging from Charleston's angel southern live oak, a majestic living legacy from the antebellum South to the dew-drenched petals of a rare tree peony from Pavilion, New York, these photographs lovingly document heritage landscapes that are threatened by development, disease and the ravages of time.

Additionally the exhibit, "Heroes of Horticulture" documents the sole surviving witnesses to some of the nation's greatest people and most significant moments. Some are hundreds of years old: the horse chestnut tree that shaded suffragist Susan B. Anthony in the late 19th century to the live oak tree allée in Houston.
These photographic collaborations with artists, now a traveling exhibit, have yielded compelling interpretations of extraordinary places. And, for most of us, this is the only way we may ever experience the subjects and places depicted.

The exhibition includes twenty-four images by photographers Mark Klett, John Pfahl, Eli Reed, Louviere+Vanessa, John Divola, Eric Baden, Jodean Bifoss, George Blakely, Roger Bruce, Matthew Keefe, Fredrik Marsh, and James Via. The twelve sites, located across the nation, are currently featured on TCLF's website (www.tclf.org) and appears in the January 2008 edition of Garden Design magazine. For a schedule of this amazing traveling exhibit visit http://www.eastmanhouse.org/Main/exhibitions/on_the_road.php.

Good Reasons For You To Consider Using Payroll Software

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Owning a business naturally means having someone or some people work for you. And of course, if you have hired someone to be part of your company, you will need to give them their salary. This is where payroll processing comes in. What most company owners don’t like much about payroll processing is that there are a lot of things to be considered and done in organizing employees’ paychecks, such as tax contributions, deductions and superannuation. In addition, as the business grows, the harder and more complicated it becomes to keep track of paychecks. The good thing, though, is that there are various types of payroll software programs now available for any type of business. You may be wondering why you should prefer using this software than any other alternative.

For Convenience. By using a computer program that will keep a record and monitor all the aspects of your payroll for you, you can easily distribute your workers’ salary wherever you are. You just need to have a laptop with you and all the information you need about your staff’s payment will be accessible. As a result, your employees won’t have to keep waiting for their salary, and in your case, you can focus on the other important aspects of your business.

More Accurate Forecasting. Computerized payroll service or using payroll software will allow you to see all the specific expenditures in various areas with just a click of the mouse. In case you are planning to hire another employee, you may easily gauge the impact of an additional salary on the flow of money in your company or business. This way, you could make an assessment of the viability of the decision you are to make.

Less worries on tax. During the tax season, you wouldn’t need to chase up records and pay slips which you may possibly have not kept in order. All you need to do is get a copy of the file by burning a CD or even forwarding the file to your accountant through email. What you will love about it is that you will be having a computerized record of tax that is free of any human error.

Easy to use. The processing of payroll actually requires skills and educational background. If you don’t think you can afford yet to hire a professional to handle your payroll, getting payroll software is the perfect solution. These types of software programs are meant to be very user-friendly. Plus, mkst of these programs have a troubleshooting service so that you can seek help anytime there is trouble with the software.

Availability of a back up copy. One of the most important aspects of payroll is the fact that such documents need to be kept for at least 7 years. Employers need to be able to have a copy of such records for that length of time, which can be really hard to do. But with the payroll software, you will be able to store all the necessary data and information in a very secure location, which you may also access anytime you want.

Addicted to Real Estate - Why I Can't Stop and Why You Should Start

The All-Money-Down Technique

So how does the all-money-down technique work by purchasing a home with cash? First of all, let me repeat that I really didn't have any cash, but I had a significant amount of equity from Terry's home and several homes that I owned put together to give me a substantial cash down payment. Banks and mortgage companies alike will accept money from a home-equity line of credit as cash to purchase a home. At least they did in 1997 under the financial guidelines of the day. What you must remember about mortgages and lending is that the guidelines change constantly, so this technique I used in 1997 may or may not be able to be used in the future. Whether it is or isn't able to be used again doesn't really matter to me as I believe that there will always be a way to buy real estate with limited money down sooner or later. There will always be a technique to acquire real estate but exactly how that will be done in the future I'm not completely sure.

I began purchasing homes in the Mayfair section of Philadelphia with the prices in the $30,000 to $40,000 per home price range. I would purchase a home with three bedrooms and one bathroom on the second floor with a kitchen, dining room, and living room on the first floor and a basement. What we call a row home in Philadelphia would consist of a porch out front and a backyard the width of the home. Most row homes in Philadelphia are less than twenty-two feet wide. For those of you who are not from Philadelphia and can't picture what a Philadelphia row home looks like, I suggest you watch the movie Rocky. Twenty-two homes on each side of every block will really test your ability to be a neighbor. Things that will usually cause an argument with your Philadelphia neighbors often stem from parking, noise your children make, where you leave your trash cans, parties, and the appearance of your home.

In 1998 my girlfriend and I moved in together and to the suburbs of Philadelphia called Warminster. After living on a street in Tacony, much like Rocky did, I really looked forward to having space between my home and my next-door neighbor. I told Terry not to even think about talking with the people who lived next door to us. I told her if one of them comes over with a fruitcake I am going to take it and punt it like a football right into their backyard. I believe I was suffering from Philadelphia row home syndrome. My new neighbors in Warminster turned out to be wonderful people, but it took me eighteen months before I was willing to learn that.

So you just bought your row home for $35,000 in Mayfair, and after $2000 in closing costs and $5000 in repair costs, you find yourself a good tenant who wants to rent the home. After renting the home with a positive cash flow of $200 a month, you now have an outstanding debt of $42,000 on your home equity line of credit that will have to be paid off. When purchasing the home, I did not get a mortgage as I just purchased a home for cash as it is said in the business. All monies I spent on this house were spent from the home-equity line of credit.

The move now is to pay off your home-equity line of credit so you can go do it again. We now go to a bank with your fixed-up property and tell the mortgage department that you want to do a cash-out refinancing of your real estate investment. It helps to explain that the neighborhood you purchase your property in should have a wider range of pricing as the neighborhood of Mayfair did in the mid-90s. The pricing of homes in Mayfair is quite unusual as you would see a $3000 difference in home values from one block to the next. This was important when doing a cash-out refinancing because it's pretty easy for the bank to see that I just bought my property for $35,000 regardless of the fact that I did many repairs. I could justify the fact that I've spent more money on my home to fix it up, and by putting a tenant in, it was now a profitable piece of real estate from an investment standpoint.

If I was lucky like I was many times over doing this system of purchasing homes in Mayfair and the appraiser would use homes a block or two away and come back with an appraisal of $45,000. Back then there were programs allowing an investor to purchase a home for 10 percent down or left in as equity doing a 90 percent cash out refinance giving me back roughly $40,500. Utilizing this technique allowed me to get back most of the money I put down on the property. I basically paid just $1,500 down for this new home. Why did the mortgage companies and the appraisers keep giving me the numbers I wanted? I assume because they wanted the business. I would only tell the bank I need this to come in at $45,000 or I am just keeping it financed as is. They always seemed to give me what I wanted within reason.

This whole process took three to four months during which time I may have saved a few thousand dollars. Between the money I saved from my job and my investments and cash out refinancing, I had replenished most or all of my funds from my home-equity line of credit that was now almost back to zero to begin the process again. And that is exactly what I intended to do. I used this system to purchase four to six homes a year utilizing the same money to purchase home after home after home over and over again. In reality, the technique is a no-money down or little money down technique. At the time maybe I had $60,000 in available funds to use to buy homes off of my HELOC, so I would buy a home and then replenish the money. It was a terrific technique that was legal, and I could see my dream of being a real estate investor full-time coming to an eventual reality even though I wasn't there yet.

During the years from 1995 to 2002, the real estate market in Philadelphia made gradual increases of maybe 6 percent as each year went on. I began to track my net worth that was 100 percent equity, meaning I had no other forms of investments to look at when calculating my net worth. Generally speaking, the first five years of my real estate career did not go well because of the bad decisions I made purchasing buildings and the decline in the market. Furthermore, my lack of knowledge and experience in repairs made it a rough. The second five years of my real estate career that I just finished explaining didn't make much money either. I supported myself primarily through my career as a salesman, but I could definitely see the writing on the wall that down the road real estate was going to be my full-time gig.

Realty Professionals of America

I own an office building that has a real estate company as a tenant called Realty Professionals of America. The company has a terrific plan where a new agent receives 75 percent of the commission and the broker gets only 25 percent. If you don't know it, this is a pretty good deal, especially for a new real estate agent. The company also offers a 5 percent sponsorship fee to the agent who sponsors them on every deal they do. If you bring an individual who is a realtor in to the company that you have sponsored, the broker will pay you a 5 percent sponsorship out of the broker's end so that the new realtor you sponsored can still earn 75 percent commissions. In addition to the above, Realty Professionals of America offers to increase the realtor's commission by 5 percent after achieving cumulative commission benchmarks, up to a maximum of 90 percent. Once a commission benchmark is reached, an agent's commission rate is only decreased if commissions in the following year do not reach a lower baseline amount. I currently keep 85 percent of all my deals' commissions; plus I receive sponsorship checks of 5 percent from the commissions that the agents I sponsored earn. If you'd like to learn more about being sponsored into Realty Professionals of America's wonderful plan, please call me directly at 267-988-2000.

Getting My Real Estate License

One of the things that I did in the summer of 2005 after leaving my full-time job was to make plans to get my real estate license. Getting my real estate license was something I always wanted to do but never seemed to have the time to do it. I'm sure you've heard that excuse a thousand times. People always say that they're going to do something soon as they find the time to do it, but they never seem to find the time, do they? I try not to let myself make excuses for anything. So I've made up my mind before I ever left my full-time job that one of the first things I would do was to get my real estate license. I enrolled in a school called the American Real Estate Institute for a two-week full-time program to obtain my license to sell real estate in the state of Pennsylvania. Two terrific guys with a world of experience taught the class, and I enjoyed the time I spent there. Immediately after completing the course at the American Real Estate Institute, I booked the next available day offered by the state to take the state exam. My teachers' advice to take the exam immediately after the class turned out to be an excellent suggestion. I passed the exam with flying colors and have used my license many times since to buy real estate and reduce the expenses. If you are going to be a full-time real estate investor or a commercial real estate investor, then you almost have to get a license. While I know a few people who don't believe this, I'm convinced it's the only way.

I worked on one deal at $3 million where the commission to the buyer's real estate agent was $75,000. By the time my broker took a share, I walked with $63,000 commission on that deal alone. With the average cost per year of being a realtor running about $1200 per year, this one deal alone would've paid for my real estate license for fifty-three years. Not to mention all the other fringe benefits like having access to the multiple listing service offered too many realtors in this country. While there are other ways to get access to the multiple listing services or another program similar to it, a real estate license is a great way to go.

Some of the negatives I hear over and over again about having your real estate license is the fact that you have to disclose that you are realtor when buying a home if you're representing yourself. Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see this as a negative at all. If you're skilled in the art of negotiation, it's just another hurdle that you have to deal with. I suppose you could end up in a lawsuit where a court of law could assume because you are realtor you should know all these things. I don't spend my life worrying about the million ways I can be sued any more than I worry about getting hit by a car every time I cross the street.

The Definition Of Revenue Assurance

Monday, March 11, 2013

In the telecommunications assurance industry, revenue assurance can make reference to numerous activities and vocations. It can imply a specific activity performed by a telecom service provider, but it can just as quickly point to small business unit which deals with such an activity. Specifically, revenue assurance in the telecommunications industry is understood to be the practical response to noticeable or definite issues in regards to the underperformance of operations as they connect with the collection of revenue, in addition to revenue management and billing.

Hence, dependent on a specific company's structure, revenue assurance might be a separate department, but it can just as quickly be a wide-ranging set of responsibilities delegated to several departments or business units. What, exactly, falls inside the spectrum of revenue assurance varies between telecommunications providers due to four certain criterion:

The cross-functional elements of revenue assurance, which consists of several skills drawn from finance, marketing, IT, and other departments.

- The the demographics of generalizing across units and organizations with different types of objectives, structures, and models.

-Internal political conflict with regards to the responsibility for billing assurance, telecom fraud, revenue leakages, and so forth.

- The the demographics of accurately quantifying the value added by revenue assurance over and above that involving underlying performance.

Most obviously, no true consensus has been obtained pertaining to the exact limitations of revenue assurance and the aims and techniques of revenue assurance vary widely. Simply put, revenue assurance refers to the advancement of a telecom company's financial performance through the reduction or elimination of mistakes in data processing. Although this is commonly done through business analytics, some instances involve developing fraud management systems. However, revenue assurance generally optimizes revenue from retail and corporate sales, profitability and margins as they relate with any investment in network and information systems, and the costs and revenues from wholesale, and the interconnection of contracts.

For the majority of telecom companies, revenue assurance provides a low-cost means to generate significant financial returns. Nevertheless, this can be tough to predict and difficult to quantify, resulting in more than one skeptical executive. Though revenue assurance can be useful in other fields when correctly executed, it is more useful in the telecommunications industry for three reasons:

- The complexity of computing the collective effect of systems and processes as they interact with one another.

- The extremely high-volume and inversely low-volume of telecom transactions entails that the financial significance of slight mistakes are magnified.

- Its rapid rate of change, which facilitates intense competitiveness, and thus boosting the potential for errors.

Finally, it is important to remember that there aren't any particular guidelines or regulations concerning revenue assurance, which also implies there is no governing body to help determine the best practices. Having said that, there are three special disciplines of revenue assurance that should be exercised by a telecom provider to stimulate enhanced profitability, including:

- Monitoring, Baselining, Auditing, Synchronizing, Investigating, and Compliance-also known as the CORE functions of revenue assurance.

-The Revenue Management Chain, which decomposes a company's revenue assurance scope.

- Evaluating and reducing revenue loss risk.

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