Friday, January 13, 2017

25 Little-known facts about Whole Foods

1. The concept for Whole Foods was born in 1978 when John Mackey and Renee Lawson Hardy opened an all-natural health food store in Austin, Texas.

2. But it was far from the sparkling operation we know today, as Mackey and Hardy actually opened it in a residential home that was zoned for commercial use. They had a small grocery on the first floor, café on the second, and had their small office and living quarters on the third floor. Since it was zoned for commercial, it no longer had showers, so the two founders had to bathe using the dishwater hose!

3. Their original name was less than ideal, too. The original name of the brand we now know was SaferWay, a rip at the SafeWay grocery chain.

4. By 1980 they had merged with another health food store called Clarksville Grocery and together came up with the name Whole Foods.

5. But only a few months later, the store was wiped out by the worst flood in Austin history, causing $400,000 in damage and almost causing them to shut their doors forever. But it re-opened less than a month later, thanks to help from several customer volunteers and eager employees.

6. That first Whole Foods started with just 19 employees (Team Members) in 1980, and several of them are still with the organization.

7. Whole Food's company headquarters is in Austin, Texas, as well as its flagship store on Lamar Boulevard. The store, encompassing more than 80,000 square feet, is one of the top tourist destinations in Austin, hosting more visitors than even the Texas state capitol! It also has many "hangout spaces" and other amenities for patrons, including an ice skating rink on the roof!

8. They opened five more stores in Texas, and in 1988, opened their first non-Texas store in New Orleans, Louisiana. By 2001, Whole Foods went big city by coming to Manhattan (the largest grocery store in NYC) and the first California store was in Palo Alto in 2004.

9. There are now 385 Whole Foods stores across the United States, Canada, and even the U.K., making it the largest supermarket retailer of natural and organic food products in the world.

10. Co-founder John Mackey is now the CEO, and he does things a little differently than most large corporations. In fact, Mackey has given himself only a $1 per year salary since 2007, with no bonuses or stock options!

11. Whole Foods also institutes a "salary cap" for its executives, mandating that no exec makes more than 19 times the average company salary.

12. As of 2013, the average hourly wage for Whole Foods employees was $18.89, amounting to nearly $40,000 per year.

13. CEO Mackey has even instituted a “no secrets” policy where the salaries of every single employee – including executives – is public knowledge and available to anyone in the organization.

14. With employee-first practices and great treatment like that, it’s no wonder that Whole Foods has been on Fortune Magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies To Work For” for 17 straight years.

15. Whole Foods stopped using plastic bags to bag its groceries for patrons on Earth Day in 2008, a move which they estimate has kept 150 million plastic bags out of the landfills since.

16. The grocery bags they now use (called Better Bags) are made of 80 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles, with each bag effectively taking four 20-ounce plastic bottles out of landfills.

17. Dedicated to providing only natural, healthy food, Whole Foods maintains a list of 80 “unacceptable ingredients” that are banned from all stores. Many of these include food with GMOs, hydrogenated fats, artificial flavors, etc. but also Aspirin and any pain relievers like Ibuprofen are outlawed from Whole Foods stores.

18. Thanks to practices like that, Whole Foods is frequently recognized by The Environmental Protection Agency as a Green Power Partner of the Year, as well as winning other awards for environmental advocacy.

Whole foods has also been named “Best Animal-Friendly Retailer” by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

19. Feel like shoplifting from Whole Foods? I can guarantee you'll make it at least past the front doors undisturbed, even if you don't even try to hide your larceny. That's because, since 2007, Whole Foods has a strict policy where employees are not allowed to make physical contact with patrons under any circumstances – especially shoplifting, meant to protect their team members. The policy is no joke, as an employee (who was also a former Marine) was fired in 2007 for chasing and physically apprehending a shoplifter in Michigan.

20. Despite all of these kudos and accolades, Whole Foods hasn't escaped scrutiny and even scandal. In fact, in 2015 they were busted by the Department of Consumer Affairs in New York, who found that area stores were falsifying the weights of prepackaged items to bring in more profits, sometimes overcharging by as much as $15! Both Mackey and co-CEO Walter Robb admitted to making mistakes that they would correct, but not intentionally misleading customers. (Isn't it ironic that "mistakes" are never in the consumer's favor?!)

21. While Whole Foods won't stock aspirin or other over-the-counter cold and flu relievers, they do carry a host of natural remedies, leading to criticism that most of these homeopathic cures are not approved by the FDA.

22. Whole Foods has also been dubbed "Whole Paycheck" for its astronomical prices compared to other food stores. Believe me, everyone who works there including management are aware of this moniker. To counter it, they're planning to launch a series of more affordable grocery chains to compete with WalMart foods and others, called 365 by Whole Foods Market.

23. But no one can accuse Whole Foods of not being extremely caring and generous, both on an individual employee and organizational level. In fact, they run programs to provide meals to children in Rwanda through the UN World Food Program, and Whole Foods team members have also donated $500,000 to the Whole Planet Foundation, helping more than 13,000 people work to lift their lives from poverty. Whole Foods stores also hold community giving days called "5% Days" where that portion of the day's net sales is pledged to a local nonprofit.

24. The company is extremely environmentally and clean energy conscious, too. Their store in Glastonbury, CT was the first supermarket to generate power from an on-site fuel cell, and in 2006, they purchase enough renewable energy credits from wind farms in Canada to offset 100% of the electricity needs for all of their stories in the U.S., the largest such purchase in North American history.

25. Do you shop at Whole Foods? If you were so inclined, there are beautiful Whole Foods grocery stores located at  4315 Arden Way in Sacramento, 500 First Street in Davis, 1001 Galleria Blvd. in Roseville, and 270 Palladio Parkway in Folsom!

10 Reasons to come grow your real estate business with The Alfano Group

With approximately 6,000 active real estate agents in the great Sacramento area, there are scores of brokerages for Realtors to choose. But when it comes to hanging your license in the right firm for you, it's wise to weigh a lot of factors aside from just company size. In fact, we're of the strong opinion that working as a real estate agent with The Alfano Group in Rocklin is a perfect fit for those that are hard working, diligent, ethical, and want to build long-term, highly lucrative careers. We're always looking to bring a couple of high-quality individuals on board that fit that description, so we'd love to chat with you to see if it's a great match. But if you need further evidence that the Alfano Group is the perfect place to see your real estate business grow, here are 10 reasons: 

1. A great professional reputation and strong ties to the community
The Alfano Group Real Estate Agency has helped thousands of people buy and sell homes in Sacramento, Placer, and El Dorado County since 1995. From the CEO, Anthony Alfano himself, to all of the Realtors and staff, that reputation permeates in the community, giving you a great first impression. When you come to work for the Alfano Group, a lot will be expected of you, but you’ll also have an edge on the competition based on our reputation.

2. Flexibility
If you’re already a real estate agent, you know that the career entails a lot of hard work and hours, but also great flexibility. Do you want to work only mornings so you can spend more time with the kids? Are you looking to build a thriving business only on nights and weekends so you can keep your day job? Are you looking to invest 50 hours a week into your business, but want to be able to pick and choose when to work so you still have life balance? If any of those are true, then a career in real estate with The Alfano Group may be for you.

3. Support
From personal training to professional education, an impressive office where you can work or meet clients to great transaction coordinators and staff, coming to work with The Alfano Group means that you’ll have all of the encouragement, support, and resources necessary to take your real estate sales career to new heights. We also have great established relationships with home inspectors, appraisers, contractors, title companies, mortgage firms, and even an affiliated property management company for you to utilize.

4. Personal touch of a small firm
When you enlist with one of the many large real estate firms, you are little more than a number, as decisions and policies are set on a national level with thousands of competing agents in mind. But if you choose to watch your career blossom with The Alfano Group, you’ll benefit from all of the one-on-one training, support, and personal investment of a boutique real estate firm, where we are all like family and have invested interest in seeing you do well.

5. Company marketing
At other big firms with hundreds of agents, you'll pay a big chunk of your hard-earned money on marketing and advertising costs. While it's important for each Realtor to build his or her individual business, at The Alfano Group you'll be able to use all of our marketing tools already in place, including a state-of-the-art website, custom blogging and visual marketing campaign, social media accounts, and other marketing systems that are proven to work. Pick and choose what works for you, but you can always benefit from our custom company marketing!  

6. Top earning potential
Let's be frank here; people may enjoy recognition, camaraderie, and the perks that come with their job, but we all work for the money. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to earn top dollar, and in real estate, earning a sizable income just means that you helped more families buy or sell their homes successfully. With typical brokerage commissions 2.5-3% of the sale price for a home purchase, it’s possible to earn more money in less time in real estate than perhaps any other non-technical field.

7. Choose your niche market – and your income
Furthermore, when you help buyers and sellers in communities with high-end or luxury homes, the commissions are proportionally higher for each sale. It’s up to you if you want to work with first-time buyers, investors, move-up buyers, only sellers/buyers, or whatever niche in whatever price range you wish, but the bottom line is that Realtors that work with The Alfano Group earn sizably more than the average real estate agent.

8. Be on the cutting edge of technology
Mobile apps for buyers to search for homes; virtual and video tours; drone footage of luxury homes; all of these things – and much more - are possible when you work for The Alfano Group. We focus on arming our agents with the most current technology and tools that help serve our clients, helping you attract more business than ever and thrive.

9. The Alfano Group is built on the total customer experience
We never forget that our #1 priority is helping our clients buy or sell their home better than anyone else. Period. Our obsession to be the best means we always put the client first, doing what is right for them and going the extra mile, with little regard for our own interests. That mission dictates everything we do every day, driving us to offer the best total customer experience anywhere in the real estate industry. As an agent, that's the exact environment you want to be in to build a lucrative long-term career that you love!

10. Leadership and learning from the best
Our CEO, Anthony Alfano, ran several successful businesses, before investing all of that experience and wisdom into forming one company, The Alfano Group. He’s now one of the region’s top real estate brokers, winning numerous awards and accolades every year. Mr. Alfano strives for nothing short of perfection and excellence. His passion is contagious, his knowledge is powerful, and as an agent, you’ll learn, grow, and benefit from his leadership!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The 50 Best Quotes About Business, Sales, and Success You’ll Need to Motivate You

Are you starting your own business in 2017, have been the CEO of your own enterprise for a while now, or are just motivated to achieve big things in the business world this coming year? One of the key attributes of almost all successful business men and women is that they are constantly learning. There are two ways to do this: learning by experience and doing, and then by studying the lessons of other successful people. In fact, there are very clear road maps to help us achieve great things in the business world – we just have to take advantage of them. So to start, we’ve assembled the 50 best quotations about business, sales, and success you’ll ever read.

1.         "I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have."
-Thomas Jefferson

2.         "People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. Similarly, when someone is failing, the tendency is to get on a downward spiral that can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy."
-Tony Robbins

3.         "Don't let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning."
-Robert Kiyosaki

4.         "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."
-Walt Disney

5.         "The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus."
-Bruce Lee

6.         "It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation."
-Herman Melville

7.         "Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it."
-Henry David Thoreau

8.         "Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great."
-John D. Rockefeller

9.         "There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed."
-Ray Goforth

10.       "If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary."
-Jim Rohn

11.       "All progress takes place outside the comfort zone."
-Michael John Bobak

12.       "I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure--It is: Try to please everybody."
-Herbert Bayard Swope

13.       "A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that other throw at him."
14.       -David Brinkley

15.       "Don't be distracted by criticism. Remember--the only taste of success some people get is to take a bite out of you."
-Zig Ziglar

16.       "The secret of success is to do the common thing uncommonly well."
-John D. Rockefeller Jr.

17.       “Time is the friend of the wonderful business, the enemy of the mediocre.”
-Warren Buffet

18.       "Try not to become a man of success, but rather a man of value." 
-Albert Einstein

19.       “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” 
-Henry Ford

20.       “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”
-Abraham Lincoln

21.       “When you delve deep enough, you find that practically every great fortune and great enterprise in America has sprung from the courage enterprise of some individuals.”
-B.C. Forbes

22.       “Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”
-Biz Stone

23.       “Stay self-funded as long as possible.” 
-Garrett Camp

24.       “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.”
-Sir Richard Branson

25.       “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
-Bill Gates

26.       “Any business plan won’t survive its first encounter with reality. The reality will always be different. It will never be the plan.”
-Jeff Bezos

27.       “Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you.”
-Tony Hsieh

28.       “What do you need to start a business? Three simple things: know your product better than anyone. Know your customer, and have a burning desire to succeed.”
-Dave Thomas

29.       “The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”
-Mark Zuckerberg

30.       “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
-Colin Powell

31.       “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
-Sam Walton

32.       “In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later.”
-Harold S. Geneen

33.       “Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can't miss.”
-Lee Iacocca

34.       “Ideas pull the trigger, but instinct loads the gun.”
-Don Marquis

35.       “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”
-Steve Jobs

36.       “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”
-Dale Carnegie

37.       “Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman - not the attitude of the prospect.”
-W. Clement Stone

38.       “One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.”
-Arnold H. Glasow

39.       “I want to put a ding in the universe.”
-Steve Jobs

40.       “People are definitely a company's greatest asset. It doesn't make any difference whether the product is cars or cosmetics. A company is only as good as the people it keeps.”
-Mary Kay Ash

41.       “Do more than is required. What is the distance between someone who achieves their goals consistently and those who spend their lives and careers merely following? The extra mile.”
-Gary Ryan Blair

42.       “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”
-Andy Warhol

43.       “Profit in business comes from repeat customers, customers that boast about your project or service, and that bring friends with them.”
-W. Edwards Deming

44.       “Every day I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I'm not there, I go to work.”
-Robert Orben

45.       “It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference.”
-Tom Brokaw

46.       “Anyone who has lost track of time when using a computer knows the propensity to dream, the urge to make dreams come true and the tendency to miss lunch.”
-Tim Berners-Lee

47.       “Punctuality is one of the cardinal business virtues: always insist on it in your subordinates.”
-Don Marquis

48.       “I am certainly not one of those who need to be prodded. In fact, if anything, I am the prod.”
-Winston Churchill

49.       “The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail.”
-Napoleon Hill

50.       “Markets change, tastes change, so the companies and the individuals who choose to compete in those markets must change.”
-An Wang

Why have crime rates dropped so much in the U.S., yet we still don't feel safe?

Is normal life in America more dangerous than ever? That seems to be the feeling if you listen to most people, who feel that crime is growing, criminals are running rampant, and they’re less safe than ever. But, in fact, research points to the fact that quite the opposite is true, as we covered in part one of this blog.

So why do we still think our society is rife with crime?

According to a 2014 Gallup poll, a majority of Americans report thinking "there is more crime in the U.S. than there was a year ago.” In fact, about 63 percent of Americans surveyed say that crime is up over just one year ago.

That pessimism that we live in a lawful and orderly society also mirrors a long-term trend, with Americans saying they feel crime is up nearly every year they're polled, despite crime actually falling by about 4% or more year-over-year recently.

In fact, except for a couple of anomalies, serious crime has dropped every year from 1994 through 2015. For instance, in 2013, the number of homicides in the U.S. fell to 14,196 for the year – down from a peak of 24,703 in 1991 despite the population increasingly significantly in that period! Overall, violent crimes including homicide, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery have fallen 38% between 1992 and 2011, and many of them even more since that year.

But for more than a decade now, that Gallup poll, as well as many others, report that Americans believe crime is up – and getting worse.

This revelation has completely shocked many experts, directly contradicting their prognostications.

"Recent declines in rates of violent crime in the United States caught many researchers and policymakers off guard," wrote criminology professor Gary LaFree in 1999. "These declines were perhaps more surprising in that they came on the heels of dire predictions about the rise of a generation of 'superpredators' who would soon unleash the full force of their destructive capacities on an already crime-weary nation."

No matter what metric you look at or which report you read, it's evident that crime rates have dropped significantly in the United States over the last thirty years. In fact, it's the one thing that experts can agree upon. However, what's bizarre is that from sociologists to law enforcement personnel, political theorists to renowned economists, no one can quite put their finger on WHY crime is down.

Perhaps the most comprehensive study of the decline of crime in U.S society comes from The Brennan Center, who recently issued a report examining multiple theories for why crime rates have fallen off a cliff in the U.S. since the early 1990s.

According to The Brennan Center’s study, here are some possible factors:

An aging population commits less crime
The Baby Boomers are by far the largest generation in American history, with about 75 million citizens 65 years or older right now. One theory goes that as the Boomers matured and the averaged population gradually aged in the U.S., fewer crimes were committed (following research that most crimes are committed by younger people.)

Decrease in alcohol consumption
Some political scientists point to the fact that alcohol consumption in the U.S. has declined since the early 1990s, albeit only slightly. But fewer people under the influence of alcohol equate to less bad decisions and criminal behavior, they argue.

Economic prosperity drove crime down
The 1990s were the salad days for the U.S. economy, with low unemployment rates and higher incomes almost across the board. Some experts point out that with increased economic prosperity, it’s natural that there were fewer criminals that had to rob, steal, sell drugs, etc. to survive.

A larger and more efficient police presence
In the 1990s, policing got a complete overhaul in many major cities. Thousands of new police officers were hired, training improved, and the force started integrating technology that allowed them to combat crime strategically and efficiently like never before.

Higher incarceration rates
During the 1990s, and continuing today, the incarceration rate skyrocketed in the U.S., as we now lock up more of our citizens, both in real numbers and percentages, than any country in the world. Is a drop in the crime rate simply a factor of doing a goo job putting the bad guys behind bars?

Taming of the 1980s crack epidemic
The introduction of the powerful and highly addictive new drug, crack, rocked major U.S. cities in the 1980s, virtually overnight. But one theory is that as the police, courts, treatment and addiction centers, etc. caught up with the crack cocaine epidemic, it was only logical that crime rates would fall.

Prevalence of anti-depressants
In the 1980s and earlier, there was little or no diagnosis or treatment of depression, anxiety, ADD, and other conditions that could explain anti-social behavior like crime.

Changes in lead poisoning
Are you thinking of lead? The neurotoxic element stunts intellectual growth in children and causes behavioral problems when they become adults, but it wasn’t seen as a possible culprit for a nationwide crime wave until recently. In her 2007 paper on the relationship, economist Jessica Reyes attributed a 56 percent drop in violent crime in the 1990s to the removal of lead from gasoline after the Clean Air Act of 1970.

With children born after the early 1970s less affected by lead’s toxic effects, the logic goes, they would be less likely to commit crimes once they reached their 20s in the early 1990s. Mother Jones reporter Kevin Drum helped popularize the theory in his 2013 cover story. “In states where consumption of leaded gasoline declined slowly, crime declined slowly,” he wrote. “Where it declined quickly, crime declined quickly.” And, perhaps most intriguingly, the correlation held in other countries, too.

Increases in technology, computers, and cell phones
Does our technology make it harder for criminals to operate, easier for us to protect ourselves and stay informed, and catch the bad guys?

So what's the right answer? 
The Brennan Center meticulously studied the possible influence of all of these theories. They found that most of them could only possibly account for only a marginal decrease in crime rates. In fact, their conclusion was that all of these factors together could only statistically justify maybe a one-third reduction in the crime rates we’ve seen.

However, another less-publicized theory could hold the secret to why we think crime is growing every year, despite the fact that it’s dropped significantly: media coverage.

Simply put, the more headlines about murders are splashed on newspapers, the more the nightly news leads with another shooting or a home invasion, and every time we see a mugging or assault in our social media newsfeed, the less safe we feel – despite evidence to the contrary. For instance, in 1991 when there were an all-time high 24,703 murders in New York City, for a homicide rate of 31 out of every 100,000 people, the New York Times mentioned "murder" or "homicide" only 129 times.

But in 2013, when the homicide rate was a much lower 4 people out of every 100,000, the New York Times mentioned “murder” or “homicide” 135 times!

That's just one prominent newspaper, and these days, news websites, news feeds, digital news in public places, TV news, and social media accounts are everywhere, telling us that we're not safe.

As a nation, we’re ingesting an exponentially higher number of messages about violent crime, and therefore, we think that reflects our reality.

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Trump Effect: 12 Ways President Trump may affect the real estate and housing markets. (Part 2)

During the recent presidential campaigning season and the election that saw Donald Trump become our next president, there was little talk about the issues that affect real estate, mortgages and housing. But it was only eight ago during the 2008 race when the collapsing housing market was one of the most prevalent topics for candidates, as the nation was in a free fall of home values due to the mortgage market collapse. 

But now that Donald Trump is officially our 45th U.S. president, his influence on U.S. housing and real estate is a point of interest, once again. While some deride his lack of political experience, there is no arguing with the fact that Trump is one of the most prominent real estate moguls in America, and is looking to make some sweeping changes over the next four (or eight) years that could affect homeowners across the country.

In part one of this blog, we brought you the first six ways President Trump may affect the real estate, mortgage, and housing markets. Now, we'll bring you the final six.

7. Early signs point to Trump bolstering consumer confidence.
A lot of where the housing market turns is determined not just by logic and data, but by the fears, hopes, perceptions and emotions of the masses in the form of consumer confidence.

Therefore, it's understandable that when Trump takes office, financial analysts predict a boost to consumer confidence in Red states (Republican, or those that largely voted for Trump). Meanwhile, people in Blue states might hold off on important financial decisions like buying a new house, hiring more workers, buying a new car, etc. Both of these could become self-fulfilling prophecies in their respective areas, but one thing that is universal is that the business-friendly and pro-growth Trump is expected to stimulate the economy, for better or for worse, with consumer confidence following that trend.

8. It could be easier to get a home loan (again).
President Trump is on record that he intends to encourage banks and lenders to loosen their qualifications for lending on mortgage loans, a stance he confirmed during an August speech at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

With relaxed lending standards, banks will give out more mortgage loans to more people, including those with lower credit, incomes, or people who wouldn’t necessarily qualify now, a change that could really help our 50-year low homeownership levels.

All of this may sound a lot like the mortgage environment back before banks became so gun shy after being ravaged by the mortgage crisis, in a period of unprecedented real estate growth. But will Trump’s policies light a fire under the too-conservative banks, boosting our low home ownership rates once again, or create another white-hot real estate market that’s ready to combust? 

9. By clearing the path for more building, Trump should help increase housing supply.
Our current housing market is characterized by two polar opposite factors - strong demand from buyers, but also extremely low levels of new home construction and supply. In fact, a recent study by the Urban Institute revealed that there are more than 400,000 fewer homes being built than are needed, and in some metropolitan areas (Sacramento!) the situation is even more pronounced.

One of President Trump’s priorities will be to reduce regulatory land-use and zoning restrictions on building,  kick-starting new home construction and eventually better balancing buyer demand and housing supply. In an August meeting of the National Association of Home Builders, Trump said, “there’s no industry, other than probably the energy industry, that is more overregulated than the housing industry. Twenty-five percent of the cost of a home is due to regulation. I think we should get that down to about 2 percent.”

However, Trump’s power to change these regulations will only go so far since a lot of them are enacted on a state and local level, so we’ll have to see how wide the floodgates open on new construction. 

10. Will Trump’s signature unpredictability keep the Fed from raising rates too quickly? 
The Fed is expected to raise interest rates gradually over the next 18 months, but will Trump's influence keep them from raising them too abruptly? With news of Trump's election – and in the month's since - we've experienced an unprecedented stock market rally. But Trump also brings a lot of uncertainty and perceived volatility, filling up newspaper headlines. It's unclear whether the "Trump Effect" will keep driving investors to the stock market, or back into safe vehicles like mortgage-backed securities because of the safety of the real estate market (just like they did with news of Brexit). Trump’s unpredictability – and the erratic nature of how markets and investors have responded to him – should result in the Fed taking a measured, cautious approach to any rate increases.

11. Will the Trump Effect result in lower mortgage rates?
It’s hard to envision mortgage interest rates getting any lower or even staying at the near-historical lows we've enjoyed the last few years. But, like we mentioned above, uncertainty over Trump’s influence on the economy and his unconventional geopolitical maneuvering might actually prolong this period of low interest rates.

If that’s the case, low-interest rates combined with easier lending standards and more supply could lead to another golden era of real estate. However, as we’ve seen before, it can also create a bubble that causes disaster when it inevitably pops.

12. Shake up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
As we’ve seen with the FHA, Fannie and Freddie, etc. Trump is a staunch adversary of big government agencies, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is no exception. President Trump will surely look to trim the fat from the CFPB, or maybe even do away with it altogether. While the CFPB was created along with the Dodd-Frank Act to protect consumers from predatory lending and financial services, Republicans like Trump believe that the agency’s regulatory quagmire prohibits local and regional banks from actively lending to consumers for home mortgages, small business loans, and the like, ultimately making it harder for Americans to buy homes.

Buying a home this year? You can learn a lot from these past homebuyer regrets.

If you could go back and give your younger, greener self some advice before you bought your first house, what it would be?

While we can’t go back in time to counsel ourselves on what mistakes to avoid when buying or selling a home, we can learn from others’ mistakes, and a new survey of homeowner regrets lets us do just that.

For example, an astonishing 53% of all homeowners polled expressed having at least one regret with their past home purchase, and many had multiple regrets.

Interestingly, that percentage has come down over time, most likely because getting information online about smart home purchases is much easier. There was also plenty of remorse to go around over buying before the real estate crash and the economic downturn in 2009. In fact, from 2003-2009, 63% of homeowners had regrets; and from 2010-2013, 55% of homeowners had regrets.

Here’s a list of the top regrets reported by homeowners:

34% wished they had chosen a larger home

11% would have chosen a smaller home

14% wanted to shop around more for a better mortgage

14% wish they had chosen a different real estate agent

12% said: “I wish I had borrowed less against my home.”

27% wanted to do more remodeling when they bought the home

22% wished they had more information about the home before they decided

18% would have put more money down for the down payment

16% wanted to be more financially secure before they purchased

15% wanted a neighborhood with a closer commute to work

14% wanted more information about the neighborhood before buying

12% didn’t understand the costs of homeownership thoroughly

9% would have chosen a neighborhood with less crime

7% would go back and choose a neighborhood with stronger schools

6% would have rented instead of bought altogether

5% would do less remodeling the home than they did

4% wished they had put less money down for the down payment

2% would have borrowed more against their home

The study found that homeowners were:

5x more likely to wish they had remodeled more than remodeled less
4x times more likely to wish they put a larger down payment, instead of less
3x more likely to wish they purchased a bigger home than a smaller home

Let’s be clear: these numbers only represent homeowner regrets, not renters. In fact, renters have their whole other list of regrets (we won’t cover them all here.) But I will note that the biggest difference between homeowners and renters is that 23% of all renters wished they had bought instead of rented, while just 3% of homeowners wished they had rented instead of bought.

It's also worth noting that there's a huge difference in regards to age and the percentages in assessing homeowner regrets. For example, 75% of millennial homeowners expressed at least once regret, while only 36% of homeowners age 55 or older had any similar misgivings about their home purchase.

66% of Gen Xers, or 35-44 years old, had regrets. Only 53% of Young Boomers ages 45-54 years old, had home buying regrets.  So the indicator is that there are some significant social or culture changes taking place that impact how people feel about homeownership.

 Also, the conditions of the market over time have an impact on buyer attitude. When you bought your home makes a significant difference in the instance of regrets, as well. In fact, if you moved into your current home:

2002 or earlier, 43% of homeowners have regrets
2003-2006, 63% of homeowners have regrets
2007-2009, 63% of homeowners have regrets
2010-2013, 55% of homeowners have regrets

So do you have any regrets with your previous experience buying a home? What would you differently? What information, tools or resources would have helped you avoid these later misgivings? I’d love to hear your experiences and opinions.

The most important part of my job as your Realtor is to help empower you to make the BEST possible decisions when you buy so you do not end up in those statistics.

Contact me if you have any questions about real estate or want to buy or sell a home – regret free!

Friday, December 23, 2016

10 Heartwarming military surprise homecomings.

Every year, the holidays are a time for great fun, friends, and food, but we thought it's also important to remember the men and women that make extraordinary sacrifices so the rest of us can enjoy our lives. However, for the 130,000 military servicemen and women stationed in 150 countries around the world, holidays can be a time of unfamiliarity, loneliness, and missing family. So it makes it even more special when a father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister or just friend can return home, whether for the holidays or just to surprise their loved ones.

As a huge "Thank You" to the men and women who sacrifice so much for us so far away from home, we wanted to bring you these ten heartwarming military surprise homecomings.

We wish we could bring all the brave men and women of the U.S. military home for the holidays so they could spend time with their loved ones, but short of that, we can celebrate these joyous and emotional homecomings caught on video.

Get the tissues ready, hugged your loved ones, and enjoy!

1. This military family is reunited with their dad who has been away 40 months in 4 separate deployments. 

2. Wife and daughter reuniting with husband after a 7+ month deployment. One of the happiest moments of their life! 

3. Cutest surprise for soldier homecoming on Veterans Day at Seahawks game.

4. Surprise homecoming for military mom-to-be.

5. After being in Afghanistan for 6 months, a soldier gives a surprise SCUBA homecoming to his family!

6. Soldier surprises daughter in class at her school - one of the BEST reactions!

7. Little girl's priceless reaction to her dad's homecoming will leave you in tears! 

8. Soldier surprises family at Blackhawks game.

9. Military dad surprises his daughter during her college graduation ceremony.

10. Soldier receives police escort to surprise his kids in time for Christmas!