Archive for April, 2011
This year so far we have had Earth Hour (WWF), World Water Day and now it appears its time for Earth Day! Today, 22nd April 2011, is the 41st Earth Day event which according to its organisers has inspired and mobilised individuals and organisations worldwide to demonstrate their commitment to environmental protection and sustainability.
Earth Day is intended to raise awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment which is what I am trying to achieve with this blog.
The Earth Day Network works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilise the environmental movements. It was founded in the United States by Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970 with the aim of teaching people about issues affecting the environment. Since it began, it has seen several environmental laws including the Clean Air Act, the Water Act and the Endangered Species Act come into force which is a huge achievement and has obviously fulfilled its aim of informing people on environmental issues. As with most things each Earth Day has a theme and this year’s theme is “A Billion Acts of Green: Our People Powered”. They are asking people to demonstrate their commitment to environmental protection and sustainability with the hope that with all of these small pledges acting together will go a long way to conserving the planet.
An oil spill in California was behind the creation of the first Earth Day in 1970. Now, 41 years later, the worst oil disaster in the nation’s history, along with rising greenhouse gas emissions and budget battles, dominates America’s debate over the environment.
Environmental catastrophes inspired official Earth Day ;
On Jan. 28, 1969, an oil well blowout near Santa Barbara, Calif. leaked more than 200,000 gallons of oil into the ocean for 11 days. The damage done to California’s coastline and the massive scope of the cleanup effort led to reforms in the energy industry, such as the National Environmental Policy Act which requires the federal government to do a detailed assessment before approving potentially hazardous projects like offshore oil drilling.
Later that same year, industrial chemicals along Ohio’s Cuyahoga river caught fire on the surface of the water, making it look like the river was on fire.
Images of blackened coastlines and flaming rivers led to a heightened awareness among the American public about the fragility of the environment.
In early 1970, Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, took note of these shifting attitudes toward the environment and hired 25-year-old Denis Hayes to organize a national “teach in” on the subject. Hayes teamed with other young people to organize the first national environmental movement.
On April 22, 1970, 20 million people responded to Hayes’ and Gaylord’s movement and rallied for environmental awareness. It remains the largest demonstration in American history and was the first-ever Earth Day.
Energy production tops today’s environmental concerns;
In the years since the first Earth Day demonstration, the activities have changed, but the source of the main environmental issues facing the country remains very much the same. Energy production and consumption continues to cause the most pollution and pose the greatest dangers to the American ecosystem.
The Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, which took place a year ago off the Gulf coast, is the most disastrous oil spill in the nation’s history – about 200 million gallons of oil spewed from the damaged well before it could be capped.
Similar to the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969, images of oil-covered animals and damaged coastline prompted strong reactions and debates over offshore oil drilling. However, today’s businesses and policymakers remain largely divided over how to meet America’s energy needs.
“The oil will be drilled,” Kenneth Green, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute told the NewsHour during the Gulf oil leak. “We need to find ways to keep it from our shore. We need to improve our technology and ability to prevent oil from moving to the shores and learn how to use this material safely, because we are going to use it.”
Daniel Weiss, director of climate strategy for the Center for American Progress, disagreed. He said, “We have put off for too long addressing our long-term dependence on oil, both foreign and domestic. The tragedy in the Gulf isn’t a wakeup call. It’s a sonic boom. And what we need to do is to dramatically reduce our oil use.”
Debates rage over greenhouse gas regulation and EPA funding;
Congress has the authority to create and change laws having to do with the environment, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the government agency responsible for overseeing and implementing those laws. Recently, lawmakers have disagreed sharply over whether to create legislation to combat greenhouse gas emissions and how much money to give to the EPA.
In 2010, a bill that would have created a cap-and-trade system, which would involve companies buying credits to emit carbon pollution, failed in the Senate when Democrats and Republicans couldn’t agree on how many restrictions should be placed on businesses.
The Obama administration then turned to the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases, which contribute to the warming of the planet. The Republican-led House of Representatives voted to strip the EPA of that authority.
In budget negotiations that almost led to a government shutdown, Congress cut funding to the EPA by $1.6 billion, a significant sum according to most analysts.
“These cuts give us the opportunity to take a close look at how the agency is spending its dramatic increases in funding and look at whether the regulations it is putting out are appropriate.” said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who supports the cuts.
The advocacy group Environment America sharply criticized the funding cuts, calling them an “assault on protections of our air and water” that will “compromise public health.”
A Billion Acts of Green;
The theme of Earth Day 2011 is “a billion acts of green,” and organizers are calling on every individual to do one small thing in their lives, such as switching to energy efficient light bulbs or walking instead of driving, to improve the planet.
Earth Day participants around the world are planting 1 million trees, drawing up plans for green schools, and celebrating sports through Athletes for the Earth.
Grow Life – Please tell us what you did today to contribute to a great cause.
Where do a majority of buyers and real estate leads come from? Online Search, Real Estate Agent, Real Estate yard signage,etc…
Where do a majority of Real Estate buyers and leads come from?
According to NAR – National Association of Realtors, in 2007 International home buying activity; How are consumers accessing your real estate listings today. According to the chart and marketing online, the internet is the most widely used tool in accessing real estate listings today. RealtyGo includes all your listing in a well structured and organized manner, specifically categorized and properly tagged for indexing by major search engines such as google, yahoo, youtube and bing.
Though the internet is the most popular source today for real estate search, buyers also cited information from real-estate agents (85%), yard signs (62%), open houses (48%) and print or newspaper ads (47%). Fewer buyers relied on home books or magazines, home builders, television, billboards and relocation companies.
Yard sign statistics is what we are most interested in for the purpose of this article. Even though the internet is the most popular tool when starting your home search; what happens when you find that perfect home, your desired area or even the most charming neighborhood with all the right amenities that makes you want to jump in the car and start your search right away.
Most buyers start exploring right away, they may not even have an agent. So what’s the chances that when buyers look in an unfamiliar neighborhood for a new home or real estate investment, they also want to know about other homes, listings, and professionals specializing in real estate in the area. We would say its a very good chance. The more information a buyer can get in a shorter amount of time, helps confirm their emotions and good emotions lead to buying. So be proactive and provide buyers what they need to feel satisfied in their real estate search.
To help buyers along you should add a Mobile TAG to your real estate listing(s), enabling buyers immediate listing information, including photos, video tour, pricing, details and other important information they may want in order to make a valid decision. Mobile TAG’s encourage buyer interaction, which increase lead generation and additional sales. The image above shows a mobile TAG on a flyer box. This is also a great way to cut back on excessive paper and ink waste, giving end users the option of getting all your real estate listing information through a digital channel, such as their Smartphone, iPad, Tablet or any other enabled PDA device.
The internet has changed every aspect of how consumers make decisions nowadays, and that includes how people acquire and/or put their properties up for sale. So how will you use technology to practice successful real estate marketing in 2011?
RealtyGo – Your Real Estate listings Best Friend!
The iPhone, Blackberry, Droid and smartphones in general dominate the buzz in the mobile market, but only 21% of American wireless subscribers are using a smartphone as of the fourth quarter 2009 compared to 19% in Q3 2009 and 14% at the end of 2008. We are just at the beginning of a new wireless era where smartphones will become the standard device consumers will use to connect to friends, the internet and the world at large. The share of smartphones as a proportion of overall device sales has increased to 29% for phone purchasers in the last six months and 45% of respondents to a Nielsen survey indicated that their next device will be a smartphone. If we combine these intentional data points with falling prices and increasing capabilities of these devices along with a explosion of applications for devices, we are seeing the beginning of a groundswell. This increase will be so rapid, that by the end of 2011, Nielsen expects more smartphones in the U.S. market than feature phones.
The Smartphone User
Slightly more males than females are getting smartphones (53% versus 47%) which is what we would expect for technical early adopter products. In terms of demographics, Hispanic Americans and Asians are slightly more likely to have a smartphone than what their share of population would indicate, which is a trend we see in the adoption of other mobile data services. While smartphones started out in the business segment, two-third of today’s buyers of smartphones are personal users.
In the last six months, roughly 77% of new smartphone buyers remained loyal to their wireless operator, while 18% switched to a new provider to get their new smartphone with the remaining percentage made up of first-time smartphone buyers. Interestingly enough, the percentage of people who switched carriers and got a new smartphone is not higher than that of the average wireless subscriber.
This indicates that the portfolio of the wireless carriers in general is robust enough to prevent any wide-spread smartphone flight from one carrier to the other, with very few exceptions. The added bonus for wireless carriers is that smartphone owners are significantly more satisfied (81%) with their device than feature phone owners (66%).
Features, features, features
Smartphones show higher application usage than feature phones even at the basic built-in application level. During Nielsen’s Mobile Insights survey we asked the respondents about features they’ve used in the last 30 days. The good news for the smartphone market is that people are actually taking advantage of the device capabilities.
The percentage of people who use their phone for only voice communications drops from 14% among new feature phone owners to 3% of smartphone owners. The use of the built-in camera and video capability jumps by almost 20% for both categories, due to the generally better quality and user friendliness of the features. Smartphones also often have a better speaker which translates into more frequent usage from about half of feature phone owners to about two-thirds of smartphone owners. Not surprisingly the use of Wi-Fi increases 10-fold from 5% for feature phone owners to 50% for smartphone users to satisfy the need for fast downloads.
RealtyGo supports both QR Code real estate information retrievel and SMS/MMS Text Messaging.
What Buyers Need to Avoid Doing! | RealtyGo_blog
I keep on saying it and I’ll say it again…. The Mortgage Industry has gone back to the future. Underwriters are looking at loan applications the old way. They are looking at everything.
A 780 FICO score, money in the bank and job . . . Not too long ago if a buyer had two out of three of these, they were almost guaranteed a loan approval. Not any more.
Underwriters are looking at the contents of that credit report, they are looking at the source of the money in those bank accounts, they are looking at the pay checks and tax returns even if the buyer is a salaried employee.
Make sure your clients are prepared and well counseled. Preparation and proper expectations will cure 90 percent of the problems and delays buyers are having in today’s mortgage market.
Below is a list of “rules” all mortgage applicants should follow. It will make their life easier and yours. The only call we want to hear the week of closing is, “Docs are at title and the wire has been ordered.”
Share this with all your clients regardless of who they are.
Things you should avoid before and after making application for your mortgage
Congratulations! You finally found the house of your dreams. Your offer has been accepted by the seller, you have been pre-approved for the mortgage. It looks like you’ll qualify. The closing is only weeks away, and you’re feeling pretty good. It’s smooth sailing from here, right? Probably….
… However, more than one buyer has had the wind knocked out of his sails at some point in a real estate transaction by the mis-steps described below. If at all possible, steer clear of the following until AFTER you have gone to settlement.
These suggestions are merely that—suggestions. No one is saying, flat out, that bad things will necessarily follow if you do any of the below. They are offered as cautions. Many buyers seem to view the mortgage application procedure as a static action, a snap shot of their financial lives at a given moment in time. It’s not. It’s an on-going process that takes into account everything you do right up until the day of closing.
- Do not take on new debt. The temptation is strong. There are so many big purchases that people want to make in connection with a move: appliances, window treatments, furniture, etc. When you add to this the fact that, today, everyone offers easy terms and no money down—well, why not just do it? Answer: because you will change what the mortgage industry calls your “debt-to-income ratios” (the relationship of your income to your debt).
- Do not move money. In preparing for payment required at closing you may be tempted to consolidate accounts. Contact me before you move your money. We may require additional documentation and verification of those accounts. Trying to re-trace your steps can be confusing and delay the process.
- Do not make unusual deposits into your accounts. Unusual or irregular deposits could indicate undisclosed debts. The underwriter will need to know and document the source of those funds. If you do have an odd deposit, make copies of all the documents so that it is easily sourced.
- Do not change jobs. If at all possible, try not to make a career move during the time between your mortgage application and the closing on the home you are purchasing. But, you ask, “What if it’s a BETTER job, for MORE money, in the SAME field?” Still, try and wait until AFTER closing. One of the factors mortgage companies consider is length of present employment; they are partial to stability. At the very least, changing jobs initiates the need for more paperwork, and may delay your closing.
- Do not pack too soon. Well, go ahead and pack your clothes and dishes. But do not pack your bank statements, tax returns, or other important paperwork. Most especially, do not pack your checkbook! More than one buyer has had closing delayed while a friend or relative hurried over with additional funds because the checkbook was in the moving van.
- Do not lease a new car. This should go under the general heading of “no new debt.” It is highlighted here because, for some strange reason, many buyers do run right out and lease a new car during the time between mortgage application and closing! As with any debt, this will change your “debt-to-income ratios” and may cause you not to qualify for your mortgage.
- Do not sell something unless you have proof you owned it. This can go under odd deposits. Discuss this with me before you sell.
In short, do nothing that negatively impacts your ability to qualify for your mortgage loan, or initiates a new round of paperwork. If you have any doubts about doing something that may affect your ability to qualify for your mortgage loan, please consult me before you do it.
Special thanks to Nino Pascale for this email article!
RealtyGo – Your Real Estate Listings Best Friend!
Adobe Systems ( ADBE – news – people ) Chief Executive Shantanu Narayen is counting big numbers: 4.9 trillion Web display ads will be shown this year, he says. In the last quarter of 2010, 100 million smartphones were sold worldwide. This year there’ll be 17.7 billion downloads of mobile applications, creating a paid-apps market worth $15.1 billion.
Almost every ad and app out there, along with most of the business and consumer-oriented content on the Web, is going to be tracked and responsive to some entity’s remote control. That entity, he hopes, will be Adobe.
“Everything is changing!” says Narayen during an interview at his hotel suite in Salt Lake City during a break between meetings with some of the 700 companies here for the annual customer summit run by his subsidiary, Omniture (OMTR – news – people ). Adobe bought Omniture for $1.8 billion in 2009 because the Orem, Utah software firm makes the Web’s most successful tracking tools. Its annual conference gathers people who spend 30% of all Internet ad dollars.
Narayen got blasted for paying 24% over Omniture’s share price, but it looks like a good move. Omniture’s revenue is growing 20% a year while sales of Adobe’s better-known creativity programs like Photoshop and Illustrator were repeatedly hit in the recession. Adobe’s Flash software, the standard for rendering graphics and video online, is taking a p.r. beating by Apple ( AAPL – news – people ), which refuses to use it in its phones and tablets. Yet Adobe’s stock has kept pace with Apple so far this year. Earlier this year Narayen picked up another audience-tracking tech firm, called Demdex, to further entrench his position among companies that manage, analyze and act upon what people do on the Web, particularly around selling stuff.
Narayen is building into Adobe’s content-creation tools the planning, tagging and tracking software, plus newer technology that plumbs Twitter and Facebook for information about how people, ads and products are seen. With the right analytics built in, an ad can get automatically tweaked to improve response, or maybe a new app is created because someone raved on Twitter. “It’s a huge opportunity for us, if we can step up to it.”
Adobe does not break it out, but about $1 billion of its $3.8 billion in revenue last year came from big corporate sales, the kind that would combine creative tools with some analytics. The rest of its revenue is from sales of individual software. In the near term Narayen thinks this new market is worth more than $10 billion. He envisions, further out, selling services around these insights. “We can be the mission-critical company for digital experiences and not just a products company,” he says.
Virgin America, which gets 70% of its revenue from its website, uses Adobe software to track where its passengers click to offsite so it can craft the right mix of search and display ads. Hearst uses Omniture to test how its readers click on Web stories. It tested “royal” stories and “celebrity weddings” stories, and found people were obsessing on so-called storybook weddings more than on storybook royalty. The editors ordered up more celebrity wedding stories.
Narayen could get bought or beaten along the way. IBM ( IBM– news – people ) just announced it will deploy 1,000 consultants and 1,200 salesmen into its “smarter commerce” initiative, dedicated to helping advertisers figure out the real costs and effectiveness of their online marketing. Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ – news – people )’s new CEO, Leo Apotheker, used his first public appearance to talk about the growing importance of data-analysis software to HP.
Google ( GOOG – news – people ) gives away a somewhat more primitive service than Omniture’s called Google Analytics, but Google retains its own file of the data people plug into it. If Google Analytics is taking business from Omniture, there is no evidence of it from the outside. The market is still growing fast.