Monday, May 25, 2009

Salute to Our Armed Services

This may be a commercial, but it echoes an experience I had in the Atlanta Airport a few monnths ago - and syas what we should all be thinking today

Memorial Day Thanks

Portrait of John McCrae, author of Image via Wikipedia

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders field.

Written in 1915 by Canadian Medical officer John McCrae, commemorating the bloody battles there during World War One, this poem created quite a stir, ending up as McCrae's most memorable contribution to literature.

94 Years later, as we celebrate a day with our families, peacefully, while young men and women protect us in foreign places, we owe it to them , and to ourselves, to take a minute to remember the debt we to those who endure hardship so that we may enjoy this day.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

WordCamp MidAtlantic

WordCamp MidAtlantic, originally uploaded by caseymultimedia.

I spent Yesterday at WordCamp MidAtlantic in Baltimore Maryland. Though I have attended a number of BarCamps (ad hoc full day technology events) , this was my first full day WordPress themed event.

The idea of attending WordCamp was a little intimidating to me, since my skills (such as they are) are more centered around writing with Wordpress than with the variations available on the back end of the application. Though I had always been able to turn to friends for information on tweaking the Wordpress blogs write on (like this one), I sort of though this was an event for programmers and really hard core tech folks- after all , the whole day centered around an application that was one of the most poularbloggin platforms around.

I hedged my bets by going to the event with two local social media folks, Gloria Bell and Marilyn Moran. Gloria I had met briefly at a Jeff Pulver breakfast, but this was the first time we had all spent time together. By the time we arrived at the Thule Building at the University of Baltimore, I was anxiously anticipating the days speakers, and from the moment we walked in, any anxiety was completely gone.

Unlike BarCamps, WordCamps are neither free nor "ad hoc". They are more organized, with speakers on specific topics scheduled as part of the event well in advance. However like BarCams, notable participants and speakers donate their time and travel at their own expense to share their experience and expertise.

Aaron Brazell a well known blogger was the host for the day, and was completely open and friendly. One of the senior Vice Presidents of Typad, possibly the largest WordPress competitor in the world was present and spoke on the need to contribute to the community and a new suite of products that they have developed for the WordPress platform.

I would list all of the other terrific speakers, and share with you the great presentations from Ignite Baltimore except I can;t write as well as they spoke, or share with you the wonder of learning about sites like What I can share with you is the feeling of community and camaraderie that pervaded this event as it pervades every barcamp I have been to, and indeed permeates the entire social media space.

On May 27, I'm privileged to attend the first REBarCamp in Philadelphia, a type of event created by my friends Andy Kaufman, Todd Caprenter, and Brad Coy. With Kim Wood, John Lauber, and Judy Moriarty, we will also be trying to share the knowledge and the sense of community that we all benefit from every day. So far we have 325 folks registered, and I'm hoping you may be one of them. Hope to see you there.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Could the Philadelphia Real Estate Market be Recovering?

Philadelphia skyline as seen from the South St...Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

As long as I have been in the real estate business, I have been told that real estate is an economic leader. We are first in and we are first out. A cliche that has been true in every recession I have experienced.

You'll remember that residential real estate was the first part of the economy to feel the changes from the boom to our current economic readjustment. Economic indicators were pointing to issues in the market just before we began experiencing the effects of those issues. The good news (for those of us who own homes or invest in real estate) is that we seem to be seeing some signs indicating that may be the next step in the process.

In a recent article in Realty Times, Kenneth R. Harney pointed out the following positive economic indicators;

Pending home sales took a 3.2 percent jump last month -- the second straight month of positive growth. These are signed home sale contracts that haven't yet gone to closing, but are scheduled to do so in the next 60 to 90 days.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said we're now at "the leading edge of first time buyers responding to very favorable affordability conditions, and an $8,000 tax credit."

Mortgage applications for future home purchases also surged again, up five percent nationwide last month, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Rates are firming up in response to the rising demand for mortgage money. They rose last week on average to 4.8 percent for 30 year fixed rate loans and 4.6 percent for 15 year mortgages.

In a market like Philadelphia, where our average prices have seen little readjustment from their historically affordable levels, these indicators may indeed herald the long awaited "bottom" of the residential real estate market. Fueled by basic human needs rather than rampant speculation, our market has remained stable, with only single digit price adjustments inthe past 2 years, and some makret areas actually seeing increases in price even in this environment.

So if you have been thinking of "making your move" in the real estate market, now may just be the moment you've been waiting for. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, buying real estate for a longer term financial benefit has always been a good thing to d, since time will ease any market adjustments in your favor. With these indicators, that logic is reinforced by the immediate benefots of the current market. So i f you have a reason to buy, and have been waiting for the right time, your wait may well be over.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Don't Have an Estate Plan? Get One-

While no one wants to deal with their own mortality,there's a right way and a wrong way to transfer a home posthumously. The right way requires having a documented plan. The wrong way could stick your loved ones with a tax bill so large they may have to sell the home just to cover it. And the saddest part of not having an estate plan is the mess you leave for your loved ones to untangle after you're gone.

With just 4 minutes for the segment posted above , The Today Show rushes through some very important estate planning considerations, but that doesn't make the points any less relevant.

Among the estate planning tips:

  1. Even a simple will can big protection
  2. For multiple beneficiaries, consider a trust agreement
  3. Avoid taxes by "selling" your home to heirs while you're still living

Estate plans are simple, are cheap, and affords protection from the state and the IRS. Every homeowner should have one.And though the points made here are important, remember they are very basic. If you have someone to consult with to review your own specific needs, why not give them a call and make an appointment. I'll bet you'll feel better after you do!.

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