Since the so-called “Great Recession” began in 2006, home valuations have fallen by an average of 25%, forcing many “underwater” as incomes and available credit shrank. Recent positive economic data shows a good foundation being laid for housing in 2012.
Speaking with Housingwire.com recently, Barclays Capital analyst Stephen Kim observes that “in the absence of government homebuyer incentives, prices for non-distressed home sales have stabilized for almost a year.” This news, coupled with an uptick in jobs and new housing starts in November, this comes as very welcomed news for wary first-time homebuyers, many of whom have been waiting on the sidelines for the “right” time to buy.
While timing the market seldom works, many first-time homebuyers have held off on making what will likely be the largest purchase in their lives. What are they waiting for? Palpable signs that housing prices have leveled out and that the economy is finally back on firm footing. As Kim concludes, “Housing’s recovery depends primarily on when these first-time buyers decide it is safe to buy a house.”
Smartphones have become a part of our lives that professionals simply can’t live without. They keep you from lugging around a Day Planner and provide you with the freedom to spend more time in the field instead of the office. As a result, it’s important that you safeguard your Smartphone. By following these tips, you can minimize your risk of losing important information:
- By setting up a password to access your device you ensure that an unauthorized user won’t have access to data on your phone should it be misplaced (temporarily or permanently).
- Before installing new apps on your device, read other user reviews. New or unreviewed apps can leave you vulnerable to security and privacy holes.
- Minimize application data transfers. Many apps will tap into data stored on your phone (e.g. contacts). Make sure that any application asking for access to data on your phone has a legitimate reason for requiring that data.
- Minimize use of Bluetooth. Oftentimes, your Bluetooth password is short, making it easy to figure out. To ensure that your communications aren’t being compromised when you’re using a Bluetooth device, punch up that password. Use a wired headset to avoid any unwanted access or transmission of your calls.
- Conduct regular housekeeping. Regularly review apps you have installed on your device. Delete those you don’t use to avoid unnecessary open connections to your data.
- Don’t answer unknown calls or texts. Messages from unknown or blocked callers can be attempts to “phish” for personal data. If you get a call or text from an unknown number, do a web search to find out if any other users have documented scams associated with the number(s).
- Always close your browser. Occasionally, mobile sites (even those that are password-protected) can remain open on your device indefinitely. Especially sensitive are banking and email sites.
- Don’t trust an “update” link sent via email or text. Verify directly with the app developer, either through your device’s app store or the app developer’s website for verification. Hackers will use phishing techniques like this to access to user passwords and other sensitive data.
While Smartphones do present a security risk for all users, following these tips can help you keep your most sensitive data out of the hands of thieves and hackers.
Over the last ten years, the quantity of homes that are occupied by renters has increased nearly 34%. That’s great news for landlords or for anyone looking for a long-term investment of 10 years or more. The good news continues… In 2010, average rental rates jumped by more than 12% over levels the previous year. The trend doesn’t show any sign of fading: demand continues to rise and vacancies remain at record lows as more renters flood the market searching for rentals.
For owners of multiple properties or empty-nesters looking to downsize, this presents an incredible opportunity. With mortgage rates at historic lows, this may be one of the best times for prospective real estate investors to enter the market as landlord.
Experts advise that, when seeking investment properties, it’s best to stick close to home. That will help make management of the property less costly and stressful. Due to stringent borrowing standards, investors are also cautioned to avoid properties with more than four units. Oftentimes, down payment requirements are far higher. Another common tip is to focus on properties where your income/cost spread will allow a 20% (or more) monthly cushion. That helps provide a buffer to cover repairs and the cost of property management, as well as giving you a pad for potential vacancy between tenants.
For those with the desire and wherewithal, rental properties can be a boost to a long-term investment portfolio, providing owners with an additional source of income while also being low-risk.