Monday, June 29, 2009

Video: Getting Hard Water Stains Out of the Shower

Water high in mineral content -- specifically calcium and magnesium -- is more commonly known as "hard water".

There's no negative link between hard water and human health, but hard water has been known to mess with a homeowner's penchant for cleanliness.  Over time, mineral deposits can collect and "stain" anywhere that there's running water.

In the home, hard water stains are most commonly found in bathrooms.

In this 2-minute video from Rachel Yatuzis, we see the Hard Water Stain Remedy in action.  It doesn't take much time, or even much effort.  Removing the stains can be as simple as mixing lemon juice, vinegar, and baking soda.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Simple Explanation of the Federal Reserve Staement of Last Week

Reviewing the June 24 2009 FOMC AnnouncementThe Federal Open Market Committee voted to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged last week on June 24th within its target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

The Fed also reiterated its plan to support the mortgage market to the tune of $1.5 trillion.

In its press release, the FOMC noted that the U.S. economy is not slowing with the same speed versus just two months ago and that financial markets, in general, are improving.

These are two signs that the country may be emerging from recession, if it hasn't already. ANd that means good news for the real estate market which usually leads the way into and out of economic times like these.

The news isn't all good, however. The Fed made a point to highlight the potential hazards the nations faces on its path to economic recovery:

  • The prices of energy and commodities have been rising

  • Job losses are still mounting nationally

  • Businesses are reducing capital expenditures

Also in its statement, the Fed acknowledged a plan to hold the Fed Funds Rate near zero percent "for an extended period" and a re-commitment to the U.S. Treasury and Mortgage Bond markets.

Market reaction to the Fed's press release has been muted.

With no new stimulus and no new "tools" to spur the economy unveiled, Wall Street is business as usual. Mortgage rates are unchanged post-FOMC today.

So it would seem when all is said and done, that even if we are coming out of the toughest times, there will still be plaenty of challenges to meet us on the way out.

The FOMC's next scheduled meeting is August 11-12, 2009.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Philadelphia Foreclosures and the Pareto Principal

80-20 Rule of Foreclosures May 2009The Pareto Principle is a statistical concept most commonly known as the 80/20 Rule, and is commonly applied in a variety of situations. for example "20% of the salesmen make 80% of the sales" or put another way "20% of your efforts generate 0% of your results"

Iin other words 80 percent of the effects come from 20 of the causes according to this principal.

Apparently, the 80/20 Rule applies to foreclosures, too -- at least according to data compiled by foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac.

Based on data from May, 11 states accounted for 80% of the country's foreclosure activity. The remaining 20% was spread across the 39 others.

That's 80/20 almost to the tee.

The disparity goes deeper that that, though. The top three states in RealtyTrac's list -- California, Florida, Nevada -- were home to half of May's foreclosure-related actions.

Clearly, foreclosures are concentrated in certain geographies, generally where the spike in the real estate market was the greatest. Put another way, the places with the greatest increases, saw the greatest decreases in price, and were subject to the greatest abuses in mortgage lending. As a result these states are seeing the largest amount of foreclosures

But, even in Pennsylvania,where we are not suffering from as difficult a market as other places in the country, foreclosures still impact us. This is because mortgage lenders are often national companies, lending in all 50 states.

When home loans go bad -- in any state -- lenders respond by increasing downpayment requirements and by adding new borrowing hurdles. If you've applied for a mortgage in the last 18 months, you've experienced this phenomenon personally.

On the other side, if you're a home buyer in a foreclosure-heavy state, you're finding terrific value versus several years ago. It's one reason why Existing Home Sales in the West Region are up by 19 percent from last year, for example.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

ReBarCamp Chicago

If you read this blog, you are probably familiar with the concept of the ReBarCamp - an "unconference" where the participants set the agenda after they arrive. The concept was borrowed from the IT industry, and has taken hold in the Internet space referred to as the Recently we held on in Philadelphia, last Friday saw one in Boston, and today is ReBarCamp Chicago.

ReBarCamp Chicago is an important event for a number of reasons. The first and most obvious is that I will be there (otherwise I might not be writing about it). But seriously, the venue itself is pretty impressive. The event is being held at the Chicago offices of the National Association of REALTORS (though they are not the creators of the event, and the volunteer event is not a function of the association). For an organization of the stature of NAR to host such an event says volumes about the organization's willingness to embrace change and technology while supporting the efforts of its members to spread knowledge in this peer based type of event.

Perhaps I am so impressed by NAR's willingness to provide the venue for this event because they have so often been the target of criticism in the, often without justification on the part of their critics. Even with that history, the association has shown themselves to be more than willing to reach out, communicate, and try to involve their members in all levels of their operation. I am sometimes accused of being overly supportive of NAR, but I really can;t help it. They give me so many reasons to support them.

Anyway, if you are near the association offices on Michigan Avenue today, i hope that you'll try to stop in and participate in the ReBarCamp. It looks like there will be quite a group of Web 2.0 and social media participants here for this centrally located event. At last check, Teresa Boardman from St Paul Minnesota, Ginger Wilcox, Mike Simonsen, and Andy Kaufman from the San Francisco area, Sarah Cooper from West Virginia (of Real Estate Shows fame) and my friend Kim Wood, from Chester County Pennsylvania. In addition, you have some home grown Chicago celebs like Todd Carpenter (NAR's Social Media Marketing Director), as well as Rich Rogala and Matt Dollinger, performance coaches at @Properties in Chicago. And of course there will be lots of new friends there that I haven't even met yet. I hope you'll be one of them.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Chicago - A Great Place to Visit

Philly cheesesteakImage via Wikipedia

You all know that I am Philadelphia native all my life, and I love our city, but I have a secret to admit. I love Chicago too - maybe because it reminds me so mch of home.

People in Chicago have the Cubs & The Sox instead of the Phillies, but they love and hate them the same way we do. Their Bears break easily as many hearts as our Eagles, and their fans react just as we do.

Their pizza may be a little chunky, and their Beef sandwiches aren't the same as a cheesesteak, but they're certainly good eating, and there's no shortage of good places to eat in this town.

But the people here are my favorite. They are kind, warm and funny and as good a group to hang out with as you'll find in South Philly or the Northeast. And they don't even laugh when I call their downtown Center City.
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