Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series. Read Part 1, “Work smarter by honing your mental focus.”
Would you like to know which time of day is your most efficient and when you are least likely to function well? Would you be willing to spend 26 minutes a day to obtain a 34 percent improvement in your performance? If so, the latest brain research has some surprising findings that can help you make the most of every single minute of your working day.
Recover up to one-third of your workday
Part 1 of this series looked at how Broadman’s Area 10 (an area of the brain known as “Mother” in the neuroscience community) is incapable of multi-tasking. Instead, Mother requires 0.7 seconds to shift from one task to another. This finding, substantiated by numerous studies, means that it is impossible to multi-task. In fact, the research substantiates that most people spend up to one-third of their day recovering from interruptions.
Q: My tenant assigned his lease to his friend without my consent, and I didn’t realize it until the new “tenant” withheld rent over repairs. I lost — believe it or not, the case turned on the anti-assignment clause and the difference between “cannot” and “may not.” This seems the height of legal nit-picking. Can you explain it? –Jarod H.
A: I’m wading a bit into the unknown to try to answer your question, but I can give it a try. A similar case came up recently in Connecticut, involving a commercial lease.
Anti-assignment and subletting clauses are common in both commercial and residential leases. The purpose is to prevent tenants from turning over leases to people whom the landlord has not screened and approved, i.e., people who may not be suitable as tenants. In a commercial context, even the sale of a business to another business may be considered an assignment, which in practice means that the landlord must agree to the sale if the new owner wants to continue to operate its acquired business at the same location.
Now then, on to semantics. Suppose your anti-assignment clause reads, “Tenant may not assign or sublet the premises without the landlord’s written consent.” Strictly speaking, this limits the tenant’s right to sublet, not its power to do so. In practice, this means that if the tenant disobeys the clause and sublets without consent, the landlord can respond by voiding the lease — by terminating and evicting, if necessary. The clause is known as a “restrictive” clause, voidable by the landlord. Importantly, until the landlord voids the lease, the new “tenant” has stepped into the shoes of the former tenant.
The real estate market is a lot like it was a decade ago. Homes don’t stay on the market for long.
Most of us who work with buyers are spending some serious time looking for houses for them. Then we’re trying to get them into the house to see it before someone else makes an offer on it. We’re also working hard to find more sellers as the inventory of homes continues to plummet.
The buyers that I work with rarely — maybe never — ask me about the local coffee shop. I occasionally get asked to recommend a pizza place. But by occasionally I mean once in the last decade. There are several things homebuyers want from me and my advice on where to have a beer isn’t on the list.
This isn’t 2008. Buyers are in a hurry.
A majority of homeowners believe now is a good time to buy or remodel homes, and more of them feel comfortable beginning planned renovations than they did last year, according to a survey commissioned by home-remodeling website Houzz.
Three-quarters of the more than 100,000 homeowners who responded to the “2013 Houzz and Home Survey” said that now is a good time to buy a home, and 53 percent said it was also a good time to remodel, according to Houzz.
The survey hinted at an increase in consumer confidence, with the share of respondents who said they would put off renovations because of economic conditions dropping to 45 percent from 52 percent last year, when Houzz asked the same question.
It also found that, compared to last year, a larger share of homeowners planning renovations would rather save for remodeling than splurge on vacations or other big-ticket purchases. In all, 48 percent of homeowners who responded to the survey are planning to build or remodel a home in the next two years, Houzz reported.
The survey also seemed to indicate that more Americans are interested in increasing the values of their homes. While the vast majority of homeowners who responded to the survey indicated that they conducted their last renovation project in order to improve the “look, flow and layout,” 54 percent said they renovated their homes, in part, to increase their home’s value. That’s up from 47 percent in 2012.
“Together with Commerce Department data showing the rate of single-family home construction at its highest level in four and a half years, the results of this study point to a strengthening economy, housing and renovation market,” a report on the survey said.
The inventory of properties in the foreclosure process expanded by nearly 10 percent in the first quarter, casting a pall over the housing recovery as local markets prepare for more foreclosures than expected. However, a high level of demand driving by investor activity may mitigate their impact.
RealtyTrac® today said nearly 1.5 million U.S. properties were actively in the foreclosure process or bank-owned (REO) in the first quarter of 2013, up 9 percent from the first quarter of 2012 but still down 32 percent from the peak of 2.2 million in December 2010.
“Delinquent loans that fell into a deep sleep after the robo-signing controversy in late 2010 are gradually coming out of hibernation following the finalization of the national mortgage settlement in April 2012,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “The settlement provided some closure regarding accepted foreclosure processing practices, and as a result lenders have been reviving more of these delinquent loans and pushing them into foreclosure over the past 12 months, particularly in states where a lengthy court process has resulted in a bigger backlog of non-performing loans still in snooze mode.”
Though overall inventories are up, completed inventories are still declining. CoreLogic reported today that there were 54,000 completed foreclosures in the U.S. in February 2013, down from 67,000 in February 2012, a year-over-year decrease of 19 percent. On a month-over-month basis, completed foreclosures fell from 58,000* in January 2013 to the February level of 54,000, a decrease of 7 percent.
As a basis of comparison, prior to the decline in the housing market in 2007, completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 per month nationwide between 2000 and 2006. Completed foreclosures are an indication of the total number of homes actually lost to foreclosure. Since the financial crisis began in September 2008, there have been approximately 4.2 million completed foreclosures across the country.
Buying a house make a national list of the most foolish mistakes American adults feel they have made, according to a survey released to coincide with April Fools’ Day.
Nearly half of U.S. adults said they have made a foolish financial mistake they wish they could undo, according to a national survey by Harris Interactive conducted earlier this month.
Some 4 percent of the 2,216 adults participating in the survey said buying a house was a foolish financial mistake. Most of those were under 45 years old, equally split between men and women . Since 2007 4.2 million families has lost their homes to foreclosure, and millions more to short sales.
Other mistakes ranking high on the list were:
- Purchasing unnecessary items – 49 percent
- Not using coupons as much as I should – 28 percent
- Overdrawing my bank/checking account – 24 percent
- Only making minimum payments on credit card each month – 22 percent
- Making late payments on credit cards – 20 percent
- Making late payments on basic bills like insurance, utilities and rent – 18 percent
- Loaning large sums of money to a friend or family member that wasn’t paid back – 17 percent
- Not knowing what my credit score is – 14 percent
- Not having adequate insurance coverage – 10 percent
- Borrowing large sums of money from a friend or family member that I couldn’t repay – 7 percent
- Invested in the stock market – 6 percent
- Co-signing on a loan that was defaulted – 5 percent
“Amid the hectic pace of everyday life, financial slipups are bound to happen,” said Jackie Warrick, senior savings adviser at CouponCabin.com. “What’s most important is for consumers to be well-educated on money matters and prevent small mishaps from affecting their long-term financial health. Consumers are turning to a variety of resources, including mobile apps, financial professionals and social media sites to keep them in-the-know.”
Last week the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals called on lawmakers in Congress and government officials to reverse investor-favored policies that have created an imbalance in housing inventory and unfavorable conditions for Hispanics and other first-time homebuyers.
Executives of NAHREP specifically cited Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac REO to Rental programs that eliminate affordable housing stock from the market and fuel an unfair race between owner-occupant buyers and investors. The programs, they say, create large investor-controlled housing markets and undermine the economic stimulus and recovery owner-occupant buyers can bring to the U.S. economy.
In 2012, investors purchased 50 percent of all homes selling for $250,000 or less, with the majority of these transactions driven through bulk sales, auctions and drop-bid trustee sales, according to NAHREP leaders. The net effect of the trend will turn owner-occupant neighborhoods into renter communities.
“Wall Street wins again! Hundreds of thousands of residential properties are being purchased by large investors through channels that are unavailable to owner-occupant buyers,” said Juan Martinez, NAHREP President. “With new housing construction still at a low and buyer demand on the rise, these programs have eliminated housing stock from the owner-occupant market at a time when first-time homebuyers can buy affordable housing at low interest rates.”
More than 90 percent of all foreclosed homes in the Phoenix area in 2012 were sold to investors when agents in the market report having 10 fully qualified buyers for every home listed in the market by an agent, say Hispanic real estate leaders. NAHREP agents report similar trends in other markets like Las Vegas, Miami, Sacramento, Los Angeles and the Inland Empire (east of LA).
“Failure to provide home buying opportunities to some of the most important growth segments of our nation – such as the Latino community – not only jeopardizes economic growth for our nation, it compromises the long-term financial stability of a generation,” said Martinez.
As part of its call to action to policy makers, Hispanic real estate leaders also recommend balanced mortgage credit rules that do not restrict access to credit, changes that support the health and solvency of the FHA fund and sensible immigration reform that preserves the nation’s labor pool and provides a route to citizenship for undocumented individuals and their children.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of a short sale to beleaguered homeowner facing default and foreclosure is the opportunity to move on with life and put the bad debt behind them as quickly as possible.
Typically, short sales take longer than normal homes or foreclosures to sell because of the time required for the parties-lender, buyer, seller-to respond. “In the past waiting 6-18 months was common…now I find the process taking about 3-4 months if you are aggressively on top of everything,” reports a Realtor specializing in short sales.
Improved short sale management systems and lenders more willing to settle for a short sale than foreclose helped the transition have speeded up the process. By comparison, as processing times and backlogged inventories continued to plague foreclosure markets last year, especially in the nation’s 23 judicial states, 2012 was proclaimed the “year of the short sale” and short sale inventories zoomed.
However, now there are so many short sales on the market that they are selling slower than foreclosures that have made through processing and “normal” sales. Demand is considerably less for short sales among investors, especially the institutional investors who are having a major impact on some markets, and as a result they are selling at a discount about equal or even greater than foreclosures.
Last year short sales of homes that had never entered the foreclosure process accounted for 22 percent of all US homes sales, more than all REOs and sales of pre-foreclosure properties combined, according to RealtyTrac.