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Question of the Day

May 6, 2011 10:29 am

Q: How long do bankruptcies and foreclosure stay on a credit report?

A: They can remain on your credit record for seven to 10 years. However, a borrower who has worked hard to reestablish good credit may be shown some leniency by the lender. And the circumstances surrounding the bankruptcy may also influence a lender's decision. For example, if you went bankrupt because you were laid off from your job, the lender may be more sympathetic. If, however, you went through bankruptcy because you overextended personal credit lines and lived beyond your means, it is unlikely the lender will readily give you a break.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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How Health Risks of High Blood Pressure Can Be Reduced with Heart-Healthy Diet

May 6, 2011 10:29 am

RISMEDIA, May 6, 2011-With May marking National High Blood Pressure Education Month, BistroMD's founding physician reveals how a healthy diet can help the millions of people living with this condition.

As a board-certified bariatric physician -and as the founding physician behind BistroMD, a physician-designed, chef-prepared diet meal delivery program-Caroline J. Cederquist, M.D., regularly works with patients who struggle with high blood pressure.

"According to the American Heart Association, 74.5 million people age 20 or older have high blood pressure," says Dr. Cederquist. "For many of my patients, high blood pressure develops due to a combination of poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle choices. As a physician who specializes in weight management, my goal is to teach my patients how to manage their weight loss and high blood pressure with a heart-healthy diet."

High blood pressure is a condition in which the blood pumping through your arteries exerts a higher than normal force against your arterial walls. If high blood pressure is not managed properly, it can lead to major health problems, like cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease claimed over 831,000 lives in 2006, and one out of every three adults in America live with the disease today.

"Cardiovascular disease develops due to years of strain on the major arteries and vessels in your heart," says Dr. Cederquist. "If you are overweight, your heart has to work much harder to pump blood through your body. This extra pressure placed on your arteries can damage them and causes fatty matter, known as plaque, to build up, causing the passageways in your arteries to narrow."

This narrowing of your arterial passageway causes the heart to put forth great effort, pumping too much blood, far too fast, and far too hard. This causes high blood pressure, and can lead to fatal conditions, like cardiovascular disease and stroke.

With over 15 years of experience in her field, Dr. Caroline Cederquist has spent years of research developing a heart-healthy diet for those who also struggle with weight loss. Her heart-healthy meal plan helps control high blood pressure, through healthy combinations of food, rather than medicine.

"High blood pressure can be managed effectively with the appropriate diet," says Dr. Cederquist. "The heart-healthy meals I have developed for BistroMD are low in sodium and contain the appropriate balance of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and healthy fats to re-train your metabolism to burn excess stored fat. This helps prevent plaque from building up in your arterial walls, which helps control your blood pressure, and helps reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease."

Other than eating a heart-healthy diet, it is important to visit your physician for regular check-ups so you can monitor your blood pressure range.

For more information, visit www.BistroMD.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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2010 Census Data Reveals New World Marketplace Has Already Arrived

May 6, 2011 10:29 am

RISMEDIA, May 6, 2011-There is a $2 trillion marketplace that is up for grabs, and according to the 2010 US Census results, this market can only be defined as multicultural. The question is whether U.S. businesses are ready and willing to make the changes necessary to take advantage of this critical demographic shift.

From an aging white population to a growing youthful multicultural market where women have become key players, businesses that can adapt to this "New World Marketplace" will find themselves leading the way, while those holding onto traditional prejudices will falter.

"In about 30 years, the majority of the US population will be nonwhite, especially in the metro areas, and one of three children born in the country today has a parent who is an immigrant," says multicultural globalization expert and corporate advisor Farnaz Wallace, founder of Farnaz Global. "The major shifts we are seeing within the US population have already begun to give us a New World Marketplace. It is multicultural in the mindset and lifestyle, not just skin color. It's also young and non-traditional and places women in decision-making positions."

Wallace emphasizes the importance of businesses learning and being willing to cater to the breadth of this New World Marketplace. "Most companies still define 'multicultural branding' as token sponsorships to African American and Latino holiday events. Until brands are ready to re-define 'General Market,' they won't be able to generate profitable growth in the next three to five years," she says.

Although large corporations may be able to strategically budget and market to each segment of the New World Marketplace, mid-size and smaller companies will need to build a holistic and multicultural campaign that is able to emotionally connect to and attract the New World Marketplace customers.

"A good differentiating Value Proposition should bridge the cultural gaps," explains Wallace. "A brand's leverageable opportunities lie within harmony of values, causes and beliefs; it's all about emotional and cultural frameworks." Bridging cultural gaps allows business leaders to connect through commonalities rather than coercing through power differentiation. This means aligning brand values with those of your New World customers. "Organizations must forsake past myths, biases, prejudices and orthodoxies to ensure future profitability," says Wallace. "And they must be willing to become their own future rivals."

The demographic transformation necessitating these new business practices is most apparent among the youth. Already, fewer than half of the nation's toddlers are white. Hispanics, Asians and multiracial children accounted for all of the net growth of the nation's under-18 population. "Think about how aging of this new emerging population will redefine America," says Wallace.

While the ability to appeal to youth will be a deciding factor of brand success in the near future, attracting women is already necessary today. Women currently control 65 percent of global spending and 80 percent of US spending and start 70 percent of new businesses in this country. "Why do most banks and financial institutions continue to heavily target men?" asks Wallace.

"The New World Marketplace must be the foundation of all future corporate strategies; it is now a business imperative," asserts Wallace. And with an eye to the 2010 US Census data, it is apparent that the "future" is already here.

Farnaz Wallace is a thought-leader and trusted advisor on multiculturalism and social and cultural shifts. To find out more or to contact Farnaz, visit http://www.farnazglobal.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Success at Work: UC San Diego Study Reveals Top 3 Factors for Job Seekers

May 6, 2011 10:29 am

RISMEDIA, May 6, 2011-Three key factors enable job applicants to get the edge in hiring and predict the success of the employee, according to a study published in a new book: Closing America's Job Gap by Mary Walshok, Tapan Munroe and Henry DeVries (W Business Books, January 2011).

"Over the past 12 years, significant research has been conducted on employer preferences, also known as the Voice of the Employer studies," says Walshok, a sociologist who has done research for the U.S. Department of Labor and the dean of continuing education at the University of California San Diego. "Employers consistently look for evidence of three key factors in each applicant. Surprisingly, many job seekers are unable to produce direct evidence of these three factors."

According to Closing America's Job Gap, the top three desirable factors for jobseekers are:

1. Employers want proof that a prospect had the necessary knowledge, training, and experience to perform the job or, at least, to learn how to perform it. Preferably, the prospect has both. What was important was not only the training and experience, but the demonstrated ability to learn! The employer would examine the resume, attitude and approach of the prospects.

"Of greater importance to the employer was certification of the ability to do the job, or certification of the knowledge and skills that would allow the prospect to learn how to do the job," says Walshok. "A track record of success in similar jobs was preferred, but the key was to be able to point to evidence, proof, of abilities to perform and learn. The employers perceived that the nimbleness of their organization and the rapidly changing marketplace required them to have employees who could adapt and change with the marketplace. Direct experience, while relevant, was not as important as the demonstrated ability to adapt and perform in new circumstances."

2. The employers wanted evidence that the prospective employee would be dependable at work-they would be available for work every day. Surprisingly, few prospects recorded or mentioned their attendance record at school, at work, or in the training/certification program they had just completed. There were instances when a prospect was selected after a lengthy interviewing process, but had a minor attendance problem during the company orientation. Despite the time and energy invested in finding the employee, many companies perceive even minor attendance problems as early indicators of future problems and fire the lackadaisical new hire. They would not spend any more time, effort, or money on someone who was too casual about showing up for work.

According to Closing America's Job Gap, illness and other concerns can cause attendance issues. Employers want to know that the work they have assigned will be taken care of and the strategies they have attempted to implement will not suffer. Employers know and understand the costs of poor attendance, both direct (lost labor, lost production) and indirect (effects on other staff of picking up the load). Employers want to combat this trend by hiring prospects with great attendance records.

3: Similarly, the employers wanted to know that the prospect would come to work and meetings on time. Punctuality was another key element of evaluation. The employers believed that attendance was not good enough; the prospect had to have a track record of being on time. Habitual lateness, even just for meetings, was viewed as disrespectful. Many meetings are now virtual meetings, with remote attendees. The need to be on time becomes more critical with virtual meetings. Tying up several employees waiting for another becomes increasingly expensive and decreases workflow productivity.

"As research has indicated, poor punctuality may be a reflection of what we expect others to do," says Walshok. "If others are likely to be late, then being a few minutes late may not cost us any waiting time, but the employer may think about what it costs the business. Employers in the U.S. expect and want their employees to be on time, despite what other cultures and traditions may dictate. Chronic lateness has been shown to cost employers billions of dollars."

For information go to http://www.closingamericasjobgap.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Home Emergency Tips; What to Do Until Help Arrives

May 6, 2011 10:29 am

RISMEDIA, May 6, 2011-The following helpful tips, offered by East Coast Public Adjusters, Inc., will guide you through the do's and don'ts of any home emergency.

Water Damage:

Do:

Remove as much excess water as possible by mopping and blotting

Wipe excess water from wood furniture after removal of lamps and table top items

Remove and prop wet upholstery and pillow cushions for even drying

Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting

Turn air conditioning on for maximum drying in summer

Remove Oriental rugs or other colored rugs from wet wall-to-wall carpeting

Remove valuable paintings and art objects to a safe, dry place

Open and place luggage in sunlight to dry, if possible

Gather loose items, toys, etc. from floors

Don't:

Leave wet fabrics in place; dry as soon as possible. Hang furs and leather goods to dry separately at room temperature

Leave books, magazines or other colored items on wet carpets or floors

Use your household vacuum to remove water

Use TVs or other household appliances while standing on wet carpets or floors especially wet concrete

Fire Damage:

Do:

Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpets

Keep hands clean; soot on hands can further soil upholstery, walls and woodwork

Blow, brush or vacuum loose soot particles from upholstery, drapes and carpets

Place clean towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpet traffic areas

Clean and protect chrome on kitchen and bathroom faucets, trim and appliances with light coating of Vaseline or oil

Wash house plants on both sides of leaves

Change HVAC filter

Don't:

Attempt to wash any walls or painted surfaces without first contacting a professional

Attempt to shampoo carpet or upholstered furniture without first consulting a professional

Attempt to clean any electrical appliances that may have been close to the fire, heat or water without first consulting an authorized repair service

Turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet-wiring may be wet or damaged

Vandalism Damage:

Do:

Hose or wash egg damage from building exterior as soon as possible

Blot freshly spilled food from carpets and fabrics with a dampened cloth or sponge; scrape and blot-don't rub.

Vacuum glass particles from carpets and upholstery

Save containers, which reveal the composition of spilled inks, cosmetics and paints

Don't:

Attempt to remove ink, paint or cosmetic stains

Operate damaged lamps or appliances

Discard wood chips, broken pieces from furniture, porcelain or other art objects

Hurricane Damage:

Do:

Stock your home with emergency supplies like non perishable food and water, prescription medications, and a first aid kit

Take photographs and videos of all damages areas

Make a list of damaged or lost items; include their purchase date and value with receipts

Turn off the electricity if you see sparks or frayed wires until an electrician has inspected your system for safety

Turn off the main water valve if pipes are damaged

Check with local authorities before using any water; the water could be contaminated

Prevent mold by removing wet contents immediately

Keep a copy of your insurance policy handy

Keep our 24 Hours Claims Department Phone Number ready, there will always be an adjuster available to answer all your questions and ready to file your insurance claim for full, fair, fast compensation

Don't:

Go near unstable structures as the building may collapse

Enter home if you smell gas or see floodwaters remain around building

Make any repairs before consulting your public adjuster

For more information visit www.ecpaclaims.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Word of the Day

May 5, 2011 10:29 am

Tax shelter. A realty investment that produces income-tax deductions for its owner.

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Question of the Day

May 5, 2011 10:29 am

Q: What is a lease option?

A: It is an agreement between a renter and a landlord in which the renter signs a lease with an option to purchase the property. The option only binds the seller; the tenant has a choice to make a purchase or not.

Lease options are common among buyers who would like to own a home but do not have enough money for the down payment and closing costs. A lease option may also be attractive to tenants who are working to improve bad credit before approaching a lender for a home loan.

Copyright 2008 RISMedia, Inc., All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Moms across America Uniting to Preserve Effectiveness of Antibiotics

May 5, 2011 10:29 am

RISMEDIA, May 5, 2011-The Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming recently launched "Moms for Antibiotic Awareness," a grassroots movement of moms working to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for their children and families.

The campaign also released the results of an online poll of 804 American mothers who are registered voters and have children aged 16 or younger. Eighty percent of the respondents were concerned about giving antibiotics to animals that are being produced for meat and poultry, with 42 percent saying they are "very concerned" about this practice.

Each year, tens of thousands Americans die and hundreds of thousands more fall seriously ill from infections resistant to antibiotics. Newborns, children and seniors are particularly vulnerable to these diseases.

"Seven years ago, my one-and-a-half-year-old son, Simon, died from an infection because the antibiotics we relied on had become useless," says Everly Macario, founder of the MRSA Research Center at the University of Chicago and one of the first mothers to join Moms for Antibiotic Awareness. "Simon's death sounded an alarm that my fellow moms across this country need to hear: antibiotics are increasingly ineffective against life-threatening infections, and the lives of our children and loved ones are at stake. I am asking my fellow moms and their family members to honor Mother's Day by visiting www.SaveAntibiotics.org and joining Moms for Antibiotic Awareness."

Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testified before Congress that there was a definitive link between the non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics on industrial farms and the crisis of antibiotic resistance in humans. In addition, many medical organizations including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization warn that this practice is putting human health at risk.

"We need to preserve antibiotics for sick children, not healthy animals," says Laura Rogers, project director of the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming. "The FDA and Congress must ensure these medicines continue to work-and no group is better suited than moms to propel these institutions to restrict injudicious use of antibiotics in food animal production."

More than three-quarters of moms polled favor-and more than half "strongly favor"-federal regulations that would:

  • Allow antibiotics to be used for treating sick animals, but eliminate the use of antibiotics to promote growth
  • Require food animal producers to submit annual reports to the FDA showing the amount and purpose of antibiotics used on their farms
  • Require that any antibiotics used in treating food animals be prescribed and administered to the animals only by order of a veterinarian

"From the halls of Congress to the aisles of my local supermarket, I am going to let my voice be heard," says Dr. Macario. "Using the tools that Moms for Antibiotics Awareness is giving me, I will tell the FDA, my elected representatives and the retailers where I buy meat and poultry that if they want my support as a taxpayer, a voter and a customer, they must take action to end the overuse of antibiotics on industrial farms. I hope other moms will do the same."

The online poll was conducted by a bipartisan team of leading polling firms-Public Opinion Strategies and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research-and was commissioned by the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming.

For more information visit www.SaveAntibiotics.org.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Working in the Garden This Spring? Watch Out for Buried Gas Lines

May 5, 2011 10:29 am

RISMEDIA, May 5, 2011-Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) is reminding customers to call 8-1-1 from anywhere in the country avoid damaging buried natural gas lines when doing projects in their yard, such as installing a new wall or fence, planting or re-working landscaping, putting in a swimming pool, or other yard renovations.

"During the warmer months, many homeowners begin projects that require digging on their property," said J. Bret Lane, vice president of field services for SoCalGas. "Since gas lines that serve their homes are located underground and out of sight, sometimes just inches below the surface, we urge homeowners to make a quick phone call to 8-1-1 Underground Service Alert to have utility-owned lines marked for free. This will help them avoid possible injury, unnecessary and costly damage, or service interruption."

According to SoCalGas, there were more than 2,200 customer and contractor preventable accidents caused by "dig-ins" last year. In more than half of those cases, no call was made to 8-1-1 to have lines located and marked.

Customers should call Underground Service Alert by simply dialing 8-1-1 at least two business days before digging in their yard. As a free service, Underground Service Alert will contact area utilities. Each utility will then locate and mark the underground facilities they own.

Customer-owned piping is the line that runs beyond the gas meter to a building or area where gas-fueled equipment or appliances are located. To have these customer-owned lines located and marked, SoCalGas advises customers to call pipe and leak locating service companies or plumbing contractors who provide these maintenance services.

"Once all lines are marked, customers should carefully use only hand-digging tools within two feet on each side of marked gas lines," Lane says.

No damage is too small to report. Even a slight gouge, scrape or dent to a pipeline or the pipe's coating may cause a dangerous break or leak in the future.

If a customer causes or discovers what seems to be only minor damage to a pipeline, or any component attached to the pipeline, they should still notify utilities immediately. For more safety information, visit www.socalgas.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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Owning Cheaper Than Renting in Some Major Cities

May 5, 2011 10:29 am

RISMEDIA, May 5, 2011-It has become cheaper to rent a home than buy it in more areas, according to real estate research firm Trulia. Trulia's second quarter 2011 Rent vs. Buy Index-which compares the cost of buying and renting a two-bedroom apartment, condominium or townhouse in the 50 largest U.S. cities-revealed that it is cheaper to rent than buy in forty of them. It still remains more expensive to buy a home than rent it in New York, Fort Worth and Kansas City.

Rents have been steadily increasing in most major areas. As employment continues to recover the demand for rental housing is likely to become greater for a number of reasons. "Boomerang kids," children who were forced to move back in with their parents, will be looking for their own place as they find jobs. Most don't have much in savings, and since lenders are requiring larger down payments these days, buying is not an option for many of them. Some unrelated families and individuals have also been sharing housing to save money. As their fortunes improve through re-employment they will want their own place as well.

Home prices continue to decline according to recent data. The National Association of Realtors April annual home price forecast projected a 1.8 percent decline in the median price of U.S. existing homes in 2011. The expected change in values varies from one region to another. Not surprisingly, the areas that have suffered drops already and which can expect further drops in the future are the ones where home ownership costs have dropped below rent.

Mortgage interest rates, which continue at much lower levels than normal, are also a significant factor in today's low ownership costs. The federal government has been keeping long term interest rates low for some time, but this will not last forever. When they start back up the pendulum will swing back in the other direction. Even a seemingly minor increase in mortgage rates-one or two percent-will push the cost of owning back ahead of renting in many places.

Low consumer confidence in the economic outlook has also kept many home buyers on the sidelines. As the economy improves, many of them will get off the fence and start looking around. This will also start driving selling prices higher.

The conclusion to be drawn is that the current situation is only temporary. In the vast majority of U.S. communities it has been more expensive to buy than rent. Both psychological factors and economic factors will assure that we return to those circumstances. Most people want a home they can call their own. Because it is a highly leveraged investment in most cases, the return on the amount invested (i.e. the original down payment) is quite impressive even given the modest overall annual historical levels of home appreciation (about 3 percent).

All of this means that today is a good time to buy for those that can afford it. For most home sellers there is a better chance for home appreciation rather than further declines once we get through this year.

Courtesy of the American Homeowners Foundation and the American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance, www.AmericanHomeowners.org.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


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