Jun 172015

Though the housing market has been in recovery, it’s still a tough time to try to sell a house. If you are considering putting your house on the market or you are in the midst of it, it pays to know a few things about what it takes to successfully sell and move out of your house. To really make your house competitive on the market, make sure you are doing all of the following things.

A Realistic Picture

When you bought your house, you may have done so under the pretense that its value would increase and that you would end up making money on the sale of your house. However, as many people experienced during the housing bubble, you can’t rely on early predictions as a definite measure of the future value of your house. You may not end up getting as much for your house as you might have at one point hoped, but that doesn’t mean you should be prepared to take a low offer. Before putting your house on the market, talk with at least three real estate agents about the value of your house to make sure you are getting a fair and realistic evaluation.

Finding the Right Realtor

In order to sell your house, you will of course need someone who is going to do a good job representing and selling your house. Consider using an accredited and professional real estate agency. Here are a few guidelines on making sure you pick the right realtor:

  • Talk to several before you settle. Get a good feel for their histories and qualifications. You will probably want to choose a realtor who gives you a middle-ground number on your home, not too high or low.
  • Read up on their qualifications. Recognize that, just like doctors, realtors have specialties. For example, some are accredited to work with seniors in particular. You should also look into their history of sales and see how long they’ve been doing business. See what other listings they currently have on the market and see if those are similar to your own. Pay attention to any awards they have received from their company for most sales or best service.
  • Talk to other sellers currently working with that realtor to see if they recommend them or can give any other insight.
  • Do not work with a friend or relative. You want an objective experience when trying to get an expectation on the value of your home. You should also avoid anyone who has not been in business long, is a part-time realtor, or who has never sold homes in your area.

Making Your House Attractive

Once you’ve started to work with a realtor on selling your home, it’s time to start thinking about making your house attractive. You may want to hire a professional to take photos and video or ask the realtor to help you. Make sure your home is clean and organized. If you are anticipating moving soon, regardless of the sale of your home, you may want to start moving clutter out of your house. This will make it easier for prospective buyers to start to imagine your space as their future home.

Make sure you also attend to any inspections and repairs right away. Have the results of these inspections available on hand should prospective buyers want to see them, and keep a record of recent repairs performed.

Your realtor will probably help you organize an open house, but you can help expedite the process by keeping your home clean and organized and making your areas especially presentable. Set up a table by the front door with a sign-in book for prospective buyers and a book of photos or a video. Make their experience as pleasant and welcoming as possible.

And don’t forget to market your home! Place a sign on your lawn, separate from the one your realtor may put up, to advertise that your home is for sale. And while your realtor will likely take care of most of the online and print marketing, it does not hurt to advertise among friends and coworkers who may know people looking to move.

Preparing to Move

It’s the last step of the house selling process! Actually completing the move! While the process of moving could easily take up its own article, here are a few brief things to keep in mind about moving. Make sure you work out a schedule in advance with the realtor and buyer to make sure you aren’t without a place to stay for a period of time. Make sure to settle quickly and efficiently to avoid losing a sale. But don’t forget to take your time to do what you need to do in your home! Take photos or videos to help you remember your home. Leave a little house warming present for your buyers. Hire professional cleaners to clean up when you’re done moving out. Make sure you have all your paperwork organized for tax season. And finally, enjoy your new home!

 Posted by at 7:40 am
Feb 092015

The following is a guest post by job search company, Trud.

Becoming A Financial Stakeholder in a Recovering Economy

You may not be feeling the sting of last decade’s financial meltdown anymore. At least not in full force. But there are plenty of places on the globe that haven’t recovered one iota. I’m talking mostly about cities. Municipalities are only as strong as their design, industry, and infrastructure. If one of these fails, you’ll see your best chunk of tax base fleeing for security elsewhere. This has been seen nowhere more clearly than in vulnerable American cities wherein, some neighborhoods have the conditions of third world countries. I’m speaking here of Detroit, Baltimore, Buffalo, and St. Louis.

Of course, not every part of each of these cities is dilapidated. But get too far off the main drag and you’ll find block after block of uninhabited houses, decaying. In a recent trip to Baltimore, I saw this first hand. In a truly surreal scene, I drove past probably 15 continuous rows of 3 story Victorian homes, all apparently empty. While homes like this can be had for as little as $5000 – $15,000 in some cases, repair and renovation is an enormous cost for any homeowner and investor. So many of Baltimore’s formerly wealthy districts now look like rotting palaces. But the same can not be said for many former slums.

Being a part of a recovering economy is also about providing jobs. In many locations around the world, it’s not as easy as going on to find employment. If the jobs aren’t there, and the people haven’t the experience and skills to get them, distressed communities can easily sink into further economic depression. A healthy economic structure within a city or a smaller community has rungs going up from unskilled working positions all the way up to semi-professional and professional positions. This is built right into the physical structure of many of these older cities. Main streets have 3 and 4 story homes, with 1 and 2 story homes on side streets and alleys beside them. When these were constructed it was with the intention that multiple economic levels of citizens would live on the same block. Restoring this economic character to municipal neighborhoods is inherent to the problem of making these cities new again. Jobs for all, at all levels of employment, is a key part of this process.

Because of their size and affordability, a new generation of homeowner have moved into some of the smallest rowhouses in the city. The same can be said of all the other cities mentioned above. Millennials with careers that never really began suddenly find that they can afford $10,000 for a home in these areas, and are developing bright new communities in disused spaces. This isn’t the same old gentrification. In many areas, like the Remington neighborhood of Baltimore, had roughly ½ occupancy. In a city with a population at 60% of it’s peak fifty years ago, any new and committed residents is a godsend.

Because situations like this are available around North America, it’s an opportunity for the young and the poor to invest in homeownership, something they may never have dreamed for themselves before. Home ownership is one of the most efficient forms of investment available for primary wealth building, but it has been out of reach for a certain subset of the population for a generation. Because interest and home taxes are tax deductible, and home prices grow on average 4-5% per annum (much more in many of these formerly blighted communities), many new homeowners will find themselves with a 25% return or more after just 5 years in their new home.

The added benefit of equity – monthly payments that get stored as wealth in the ownership of your home – makes this arrangement a no-brainer for many. Lots of these individuals have been able to open businesses in their communities, having become very active and committed to the shared life with their neighbors, as homeowners often do. It will be interesting to see how communities like these develop, but in the meantime it’s enough to know that it’s a tremendous investment opportunity for those without a lot of money, looking for a way to start amassing wealth.

 Posted by at 5:00 am
Oct 312014

The following is by staff writer, Peter.

If you accept credit cards in your business or you are planning to do that in the future, one of the things that you will need to do is to choose a credit card processing company. There are many different companies that you can choose from, so how do you choose the right one? Before you can pick one, you need to know what to look out for.

Not Reading the Fine Print14-10-credit-card-dealer

According to Skybank Financial, a huge mistake that a lot of business owners make when it comes to credit card processors is that they don’t read the fine print in the contract. This can be quite costly. You want to do more than just glance at the contract.  Check for the fees that they are charging up front, along with the hidden fees, penalties, and other things.  Even though credit cards are made to make life easier, the industry is also huge and they’re out to make money. They want to make as much money as possible from everyone.  If you’re not careful, you can be facing a lot more fees than you expect.

Bad Selection of Plans

Most of the companies that offer credit card processing via a POS system like Shopify also offer a lot of different plans that vary by services provided and price.  A huge difficulty for many business owners is deciding which of the plans is going to be best for their business. For example, one business might choose a certain plan that assumes there will be a lot of transactions every month. But this is going to likely be better for a larger chain that is able to meet those obligations. Another example would be a business that is rapidly growing conservative in their estimates regarding the type of service they’ll need. Maybe they underestimate how many transactions they’re going to have. This can result in a plan that’s insufficient or the business having a lot of fees.

Ignoring the Termination Fees

According to Singular Payments, this is one of the most common mistakes people make. When you are looking for a card processing company for your business, it’s essential to look at all of the information before you choose one. One of the most common types of fees that businesses often will ignore is the termination fee. This is what a company will use to lock their clients into contracts. These fees are really high and many of the processors ask that their clients sign an agreement for more than one year. Even though these seem innocent, this kind of contract often will lead to the provider charging you a fee for early termination. They also often may charge a penalty for liquidated damages due to lost profits.

Falling for the Bait & Switch

If you are looking for something and you think that it seems almost too good, you may want to look elsewhere. A lot of merchant services will lure businesses into something with a great rate or some other delectable item and then change it after you’re hooked. When you’re considering a company to process your credit cards, you want to ask them if they’re offering guarantees about what you’re being sold. Look for guarantees that offer protection against baiting and switching so that you know what you are getting into and you don’t have to worry about unpleasant surprises.

Not Reading Reviews

One of the best ways that you can find out about a credit card processing company is to read the reviews online. Look at the things that other people have said about the company and what they say about their fees, services, customer service, and anything else you want to know about the company. This is going to help you make the right decision.

Not Comparing Companies

In order to find the right processing company, one of the best things that you can do is to look at the different companies that are available. You may find one that you really like, but if you stop looking, you may miss out on one that you would have liked better. So compare the different companies and see what they have to offer, and then choose the one that is going to be best for you.

A gentlemen wrote about his own search for a credit card processing company and the problems that he had dealing with all the fees, manipulations, and other less-than-stellar tactics used by card processing companies for the New York Times. If you are concerned about finding the right payment processor, then follow in the NYT writer’s footsteps and tread warily, pay attention, and take your time to think.

When you take the time to learn what you shouldn’t do and what you should do, you will have a better chance of finding the right company for processing your credit card transactions. Take time and look for the one that suits you best and you will be less likely to make mistakes. If you want a good POS system, go visit Shopify and see what sort of services they can provide.

Oct 172014

The following is a guest post.

The days when you had to shell out thousands of dollars for a good cash register are gone. In their place and for less money, you can have a sleek cash drawer and a tablet computer with a card reader. Despite the minimal setup, the system works just as well as before. In fact, it’s often better, as the new systems like Shopify are faster and more efficient. These advances in technology might lead you to wonder when you will be able to set up a register with just the tablet and the card reader, without the receipt printer or bulky cash drawer. Those days aren’t here yet, sadly. For the moment, you still need all of these in order to make your checkout experience complete. Still, a cashless society is looming on the horizon and more than a few people are wondering what it will look like.

Added Security for Customers

14-10-cash-registerWhenever there’s a security breach online, people rush to point out that this is why cashless societies will never work. It’s just too easy to steal someone’s information, right? This argument only holds up if you forget that people get mugged and banks get robbed. Your cash isn’t safe, either. If someone steals your money, you can’t report it to a company and expect to get all of that back again. You can’t track where the thieves went after taking your check; there’s nothing for you to do but regret that you ever went down that dark alley or trusted that bank. Credit card theft is a very serious issue, but a person who can show that their identity and their cards were stolen stands a good chance of filing their claims and disputing the charges. With over 11 million cases of identity theft annually, according to Statistic Brain, there are systems in place to deal with these damages.

Tipping Doesn’t Vanish

One of the things that people are afraid of in a cashless society is that tipping will die. When you’re paying for your latte with a swipe of your card, how are you going to drop your change into the tip jar? Digital tipping is always an option, but most people think that working out how much to tip on a small purchase like a cup of coffee or a sandwich just wouldn’t be worth it. However, when tipping is made easier, then the amount that people tip digitally versus with cash actually rises. When taxi drivers in New York City started adopting a mode of tipping that let the customer check a box on a touchscreen payment device to add 10-30% to their bills, they saw their tips rise drastically. The average before digital tips was only 10%, and the average afterwards was 22%, according to The New York Times. That’s a huge boost! If this carries over to other industries, then ease and convenience of tipping might lead to better salaries for everyone from baristas and waitresses to bellhops and chauffeurs. Not to mention the fact that it will cut out the honest mistakes that people sometimes make when trying to find the proper 20% tip on an eight-person check.

Paperless Saves Business Expenses

Paperless is the way to go for many businesses looking to save costs. If you’re looking for the most expensive liquid in the office you can skip that water cooler that everyone loves and head straight to the printer. At an average of $3,330.14 cents per gallon according to Techopedia, printer ink is the most expensive reoccurring expense in your business. When you don’t have to print every receipt, you save money. When you don’t have to print out every report and checklist, you save money. When someone pays with cash, the only way for them to record their purchase is to get a receipt from you. When they’re willing to go paperless, you can either email their receipt to them or they can just check their debit or credit card statement online. The itemized lists will tell them exactly where that $50 they meant to save got away from them. This level of ease provides customers with more security and an easier way to plan their budget. No one wants to sit down with a ledger and a month’s worth of lunch receipts, bills, and payments made and missed when they can set everything up online and read the printout. You’re saving time and your customers are saving money.

Budgeting Advice Is the Only Thing That Stands in Its Way

Perhaps partly because mental math will put the brakes on your spending spree, the only place you really see someone advocating to pay cash these days is in the advice of budgeting analysts. There’s nothing to stop you from going over budget like literally not having the money to pay for something. But even electronic money can be budgeted, so when we do become a cashless society, the same principles will still apply.

Jul 012014

The next time you’re sitting waiting for a bus or an elevator, take a look around you. Chances are the majority of the people you see are using a smartphone in one way or another. They may be making a phone call, browsing the Internet, checking email, sending a text, playing a video game, checking their bank account or any of the other hundreds of things a smartphone can do. The point is, they’re completely engrossed in what they’re doing and for the most part oblivious to the world around them. Pedestrians put themselves in danger all the time by walking off street corners while looking straight down at their phones. It’s enough to capture the attention of any business professional who will foam at the mouth thinking of the possibilities.

The Growing Smartphone Population

As these phones are designed to do more and more, smartphone sales are on the rise every day, and a population of children grow up in a world where they’ve never known a day without a pinch screen in front of them. When asked about their smartphones, according to The Huffington Post, over two-thirds of owners say they could not imagine life without their devices. Even though many of the smartphone users report that the most common task they use their phone for, other than making calls, is to check the weather, the phones are an essential part of modern culture. Businesses are tapping into this by providing even more apps and marketing ploys directed at the smartphone population. Any business without an edge to capture the attention of smartphone owners (more than half the people in the world) is going to fall severely behind. It’s all about knowing what the customers for a business use their phone for as well as what they prefer to do in their free time. This will allow any business to have the edge needed to succeed.

Having a Responsive Web Design is a Must

It used to be a lot simpler running a business when all you needed was something like the barcode printers Shopify sells and some good products to sell. These days, you need to have a website as well as an eCommerce solution to offer customers the solution they’re looking for when they’re trying to make a purchase. Of course, as the smartphone increases in popularity, businesses without a responsive design are going to fall behind. At its heart, a responsive design is a simple concept. Since practically every mobile device has a different resolution and screen size, according to Smashing Magazine, creating a one-size-fits-all site doesn’t make sense. Instead, it’s necessary to have a responsive design. With this, the website automatically adjusts to the size of the screen and the resolution it provides. Everything from graphics to navigation bars will alter slightly depending on how the page is being viewed. Even switching from landscape to portrait mode on your device causes the appearance of the website to alter slightly. The end goal is to provide all users the ability to see and interact with the website free of problems.

Providing Information and Marketing Where It Will Be Seen

As many as 57 percent of users say they would not recommend a company if it had a poor mobile site. This is a great example of the importance of creating material designed specifically for a smartphone. By targeting your audience where they spend a great deal of their time, you’re giving them something better to do with their time other than updating their Facebook status. Even though the average user spends more than 2 hours a day on a mobile phone, this doesn’t mean users want to spend all of that time looking at the materials you’re putting online. Keep it short, sweet and to the point. Utilize social media, the perfect vehicle for the smartphone, to provide information to your clients and they can learn while they stand waiting for the elevator.

Don’t Discount Marketing through Smartphone Apps

Businesses everywhere are starting to key into just how easy it is to market to individuals using free mobile games and text chat apps, according to Mobile Marketer. The developers of apps provide their apps for free and offer businesses the right to include banners on the pages. With the exploding frequency of ad-impressions for businesses utilizing this platform, it’s hard to ignore the possibilities available to you. This will require an upfront cost along the same lines as traditional marketing, but when you look at the numbers of people around the world utilizing these apps, the potential becomes staggering. Many of the developers have even incorporated tools in the apps whereby the location of the user is identified and the ads showing up on the platform are chosen based on what’s in that location. These are just a few of the ways that smartphones are changing the way the business world operates today, with even more changes on the horizon.



 Posted by at 11:49 pm