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Manage Your Time More Effectively News Speaks at Climate Change Conference

Most business owners believe that time is their most valuable asset. If you are able to manage your time effectively you will be able to easily grow your business. Taking the time to make new contacts will help you when you need to ask for favors, and spending more time working directly with your customers will enable you to more easily gain their trust.

However, if you have not been able to make the most of your days you may begin to realize that your sales are slumping. If you have a competent staff they should have no problems completing the bulk of their tasks without supervision, but if they are spending their time working on things that can be eliminated you should come up with a way to solve this issue.

Although you may not be familiar with how online signature software works you can quickly find out how your business can save money if you give your employees access to it. Projects, budgets and contracts need to be approved and signed off on before your workers can move on to their next set of tasks. If you make your employees wait for hours on end, they will definitely not be able to do their jobs to the full extent of their abilities.

Coincidentally, many of your employees’ tasks may consist of sending payments to your vendors. If they are able to access digital signatures to get the ball rolling, the next thing that they will need to submit payment. Consider creating a feature on your company website that will allow your staff to use a bill pay option so that your merchants can immediately send shipments and mail off supplies. With fewer hurdles, your staff will likely increase their productivity level exponentially.

Although Ericsson is not particularly well known in the environmental industry, they want the world to know that they are doing their part to reduce emissions and carbon footprints with their newest technologies. Representatives from the Swedish company will be speaking at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in order to explain how they plan to change the world with their web conferencing and other telecommunications-related tools.

While the company plans to explain their plans and demonstrate how their innovative technologies can help the environment, they are also realistic about what they think can be accomplished. Their ultimate goal is to help big businesses and foreign governments to completely eliminate the need for the use of fossil fuels by the year 2030. It may be a lofty goal, but the world can, and already has changed quite a bit in the last 20 years.

At the conference Ericsson will announce their Stockholm Royal Seaport Project, which is an effort that was launched to greatly reduce the amount of pollution produced in the next few decades. As more businesses turn to advanced telecommunications software to assist them in areas such as customer experience management and budgeting, less money will be spent on transportation. Reducing unnecessary trips to meet with business partners while still effectively communicating with them will result is less pollution.

It is a rather simple strategy that is based on cause and effect, but as people depend more and more on the Internet, text messaging and video conferencing to do business, vehicle usage will go down. While the inventors of technologies such as cell phones and video conferencing may not have known the scope of the impact these products would have on the world, there are still many more benefits that remain to be discovered.

As Ericsson joins the scores of other major corporations that have dedicated themselves towards a fossil fuel-free future, less pollution and energy conservation, consumers will need to make similar efforts in order for these efforts to yield positive outcomes.

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You Should Know Housing Market News Still Stinks More Short Sales on Horizon

Zillow published the latest housing news, and it isn’t good.  Zillow’s cheapest maximum online latest Real Estate Market Report says U.S. home values fell another 9.9% in quarter 2, compared with the same quarter last year.

Homeowners appear to be in denial.  About 62% of homeowners believe their home values have increased, while, in fact, 77% of U.S. homes have declined in value in the last year.

Of course, each market is different. There are parts of the country that have gone up in value, slightly. But most people, if they find they need to move, will be in for a shock. Unless there is some built-in equity, homeowners will be coming to the closing table with cash or asking lenders to accept short sales in lieu of full payment upon sale.

To argue the need for a short sale you’ll need to show hardship or inability to pay, and a necessity to sell. Most lenders will cooperate on a short sale given a sufficient homeowner’s need.

Some lenders will not consider a short sale unless the homeowner has demonstrated need by becoming behind on payments, which has always seemed to me to be antiquated, wasteful, and time-consuming.  Why not solve a problem before it gets out of hand?

If you’re in that situation where you know you cannot keep your home, and the value has fallen below your mortgage level, put in a call to the Loss Mitigation Department of your lender and check out your options. Sometimes you’ll get a better response if you work with an investor, Realtor, or mortgage broker who has experience at working out short sales.

They often already have relationships established with loss mitigates in many lending institutions and can cut through the red tape for you. They will often also help you find an end buyer to get you out from under a bad situation.

A short sale is always a better option than a foreclosure because there is much less damage done to the credit rating and the balance of the loan is forgiven.  While normally there is a tax consequence for the forgiven portion of the loan, as part of the bailout program the government is temporarily halting taxing unrealized capital gains for primary residences sold in the short sale.  The same, unfortunately, is not true for second homes and investment properties.

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Other News is Gap Between Lis Pendens and Foreclosure Deed

The Southwest Florida Real Estate Investor’s Association publishes a regular newsletter for members. Some interesting statistics are included in the New Year’s issue.  December saw a total of 2304 list pendent filings in Lee County, Florida, while only 863 properties were conveyed due to foreclosure.  It is hard to tell exactly what is going on but the best guesses are that:

The uptick in foreclosure filings is due to a hurry on the part of the mortgage lenders to get to the courthouse before the end of the calendar year.  Florida has asked for a voluntary moratorium on homesteaded filings, and the REIA group is trying to determine whether the largest portion of actual filings was in the non-homestead group, or whether the mortgage lenders are ignoring the government’s call for a homesteaded filing moratorium.

Filings are not at their very highest.  They bounce around, but they are still somewhat lower than earlier years when filings bounced up above 2500.  It is hard to say if this is a sign of a downward trend, or whether the process will see the second round in the coming year.

There is a large backlog of delinquent mortgages that have not been filed on.  The REIA is not sure what is going on.

I’ll venture an opinion on that one.  More mortgage lenders are trying to be proactive in coming to a solution short of foreclosure and are willing to hold off on a formal filing in order to work out a modification deal or a short sale with the homeowner.

Other lenders are taking completely the opposite approach.  They essentially shut down communications and go after the owner with all barrels blazing to sue personally.  This latter scenario is particularly the case when the owner is an investor living in another state and the mortgage holder suspects that there are other assets that can be seized to make up for the difference between the mortgage owed and the current value of the property.

Mortgage lenders may well be granted full restitution in a personal suite and get the judgment faster, than waiting for a traditional foreclosure judgment in a state absolutely backed up with cases, like Florida.  In heavily impacted states like Florida or California, there’s no guarantee a judge will grant a deficiency judgment.

After all, the householder probably had less to do with the drastic loss in the market value of the property than the lender, whose risky lending practices precipitated the slide in property value.  Why should the householder have to pay for the loss in value, when it was very much beyond their control?  At the very least, shouldn’t the lender share in the loss due to the bad economy?

The poor homeowner who gets slapped with a personal suit has little recourse except to file for bankruptcy unless they really are flush with assets.  When that happens, everyone loses.

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You Should Know All News About Florida Investor Law

October 1 a new Florida law news went into effect that makes it illegal to charge upfront for home redemption or short sale processing services unless you are an attorney. Many investors have moved into the business of home redemption, helping homeowners to request loan modifications and forbearance agreements, while others are working with homeowners to negotiate a short sale with lenders.

On average, specialists in the foreclosure market have charged from $500 to $1500 upfront to manage the paperwork process and negotiate with the lender.  It is a time-intensive process, and there is, frankly, no guarantee that the bank will accept the proposal.  To make sure there is some financial reward for starting the process, most charge something upfront.

What seems to be happening is that now homeowners are spending more, because the average attorney fee to get a loan mod or negotiate a short sale is $1500 to $2500.  Many investors and Realtors continue to charge, at great risk of being reported to the state Attorney General’s Office.  The fines are very stiff.

I recently listened to a teleconference were members of the Ft. Lauderdale Real Estate Investors organization interviewed two attorneys from the State of Florida who were involved in writing the legislation.

It became clear that most of the ways Realtors and investors have invented to get around the law are not, in fact, legal, including aligning with an attorney and running the business through the attorney’s office.  This could be construed as practicing law without a license.  A definite no, no!

The only process that the two Florida Attorney General’s office lawyers found to be viable is by breaking the service into small pieces and billing for services completed in small increments.  This limits the loss if the homeowner backs out or gets a negative reaction from the lender, but gets paid for services actually rendered immediately after the service is complete.

So, investors and Realtors trying to help Florida’s desperate homeowners, be aware that you need to follow the new law.  To ignore it is risking your client turning you into the state Attorney General’s office and being fined $15,000.

That money, by the way, specifically goes to the homeowner and not the lender, so there is a great incentive for homeowners to turn in anyone who is not offering completely above board service.

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The Network Literacy New What Students and Staff Need to Do for His Future

Network Literacies is a news aspect of the media program at UNSW that allows us all to work together with news forms of online publishing.

Let’s begin by saying that the best way to get involved in this is—well—to get involved. If you don’t at first understand things like RSS, use them! This post will get you on your way. You’ll soon get the picture (quite literally).

We’ll be using social networking tools such as blogs and microblogs (e.g. Word Press, Twitter), image and video sharing (e.g. Flickr, YouTube—including UNSW TV), and data feeds (RSS).

However, it’s not about the technologies! It’s about bringing people together in new ways to enhance everyone’s education and research (it will also enhance the “research-teaching/learning nexus”).

It’s for students and staff—for students and staff to engage with each other, for students to engage more actively with other students, for staff to engage with other staff.

It’s also for UNSW to engage with the rest of the world, in both education and research.

It’s flexible. Today we’re just beginning to set up a framework to work with. How students and staff will develop this is something we’ll see over the next 12 months.

It’s still something of an ongoing experiment. We think it will be great and we hope overall a positive experience. At the same time, as with all contemporary media, it will always be a changing experience. Many things will work—some won’t. We’ll learn from the latter and move on.

It will usually, to varying degrees, supplement other aspects of education and research. It’s by no means a replacement for talking face to face, for classrooms, or for sitting in the park reading a book or thinking things through.

It’s not Facebook. For lots of reasons (Facebook is too closed, keeps changing its rules …)

It should make it easier for all of us to work with each other across different media (text, images, video, data—and the relations between all of these).

It should make it easier for all of us to work together across different content. We’re starting with media courses, but hoping that the Network Literacies Project will also help you read poetry, explore the history, make music, think philosophically, make better social policy … the possibilities really are endless.

Two quick summary points, before we get into it.

First—you’ll be using lots of “technologies”, and there are some tools we’ll be making compulsory for everyone involved. Again, however, it’s not about the technology, it’s about being able to use whatever comes up next to work with networks, and to build your own networks for your own uses. It’s about engaging with what’s happening now, and more effectively (via archives and databases), with what’s happened in the past. It’s also about adaptability and “future-proofing”.

Second—relax! Both staff and students are moving into this as a kind of happy experiment. We’ll be learning from each other and in the process developing what we hope will be a happy and helpful network culture that should enrich your experience at UNSW.

Credits: 

Thanks to the UNSW Learning and Teaching Centre, and to Sean Brawley in the Faculty’s Learning and Teaching administration, for providing funding for various pilot projects. Gay Hawkins, I (Andrew Murphie), Meg Mumford, Olivia Khoo, Ross Harley, Gillian Fuller, Brigid Costello, Alyssa Rothwell, Ed Scheer, Xavier Fijac, Anna Munster, Adnan Lalali, Peter Cossey and Mat Wall-Smith have all worked on these early projects.

Most importantly, Mat Wall-Smith has been the conceptual and technical engine behind this current Network Literacies project. He thought it up and has led the rest of us to bring it into being. Finally, thanks to all the students over the past few years who have engaged with earlier versions of the project.

OK – So, More Specifically …

The Concept

The internet is big, crazy, and fast. It’s not just a series of sites anymore. It’s a series of dynamic relationships [Mat Spiel] How do we keep up with it? We use RSS. RSS encourages a different form of publishing – and different relations between people who publish.

Principles

The Network Literacies Project is about your UNSW identity (or perhaps, more broadly, you’re learning, teaching, and researching identity). By this we mean—as opposed to your private identity. Most people now use these, or similar technologies, in their private lives and their more general social lives. That’s great, but that’s not what this is about. So:

We think it is probably beneficial for you to keep your private worlds separate from your UNSW identity. This will usually be as simple as using a different username at UNSW.

It’s usually going to be a good idea to keep the same username across the tools and sites involved. This is so that, for example, if others find your blog posts interesting, they can easily find you on the Flickr image sharing site and look at the images you’ve been making. Or they know where to look for feeds for all your networks.

Things are going to be pretty engaging and often fairly free via the Network Literacies Project. However:

Keep it legal – respect copyright, for example.

Respect others (keep it polite .. no abuse – if things are heating up for you take walk, check out the local park, etc.)

Respect yourself

So what is the Net Lit Project?

Where do you begin?

What do you have to do first?

There are a few steps you have to take but these are pretty simple. If you’ve done all this before that’s great. If not, you should find it pretty easy. In either case, however, you need to do the following things now.