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Lifestyle:

4 Must-Have Apps for Real Estate Investors

Whether an individual is a first-time homebuyer, a real estate agent, or a broker, scoping out homes and putting together all the necessary paperwork to complete the purchase is a daunting task that requires a significant investment of time and effort. Thanks to modern apps available on desktops, tablets and smartphones, the amount of time it takes to locate, valuate, determine the best mortgage for, and get all the needed paperwork to close on the home can be substantially reduced. Melanie Haselmayr writing for Forbes suggests taking advantage of some of the best apps available to help with different aspects of real estate investing. Four of these apps stand out as absolute must-haves for anyone hoping to invest in real estate.

Zillow

With the purchase of its largest competitor, Trulia, in 2014, Zillow is now the most comprehensive source of real estate information on the Internet, including maps, details and statistics on properties as well as values over time, MLS numbers, and more. While homeowners can list their homes for free on Zillow, most homeowners work with agents who can maximize Zillow’s benefits, according to Joe Levy of Business2Community. With apps available for desktop and mobile, Zillow is now an indispensable resource for real estate brokers and agents, as well as potential homebuyers interested in professional tools to locate prospects and gather information about properties. The app also includes mortgage calculators and other tools to help estimate closing fees and other costs.

Waze

Having grown from a traffic-tracking app to a social phenomenon, Waze is near-essential for a real estate investor on the go. The app, available for Android and iOS devices, is designed so that traffic stops and other problems can be quickly reported, which then alerts other nearby users so that they can avoid those same traffic errors. For time-strapped real estate professionals moving from location to location or potential homebuyers unfamiliar with the area a property is in, this app is not only a time-saver but an invaluable stress reducer. Rachel Metz of Technology Review noted that Google’s purchase of Waze was likely due not only to its usefulness, but its massive community of over 50 million users (though the fact that Google’s purchase kept the app—and its community of users—out of  rival Apple’s hands was probably also a bonus incentive behind the purchase).

Mortgage Calculators

One of the most bothersome parts of dealing with home purchases has to do with the mortgage. More properly, it has to do with interest rates. Whereas previously, this was mostly handled with a calculator and a phone call to determine what interest rates were against the rates of specific companies, apps that function as mortgage calculators have changed the way that professionals and even first-time investors deal with the math of investment. GuaranteedRate.com has a page for investors and real estate professionals which contains not only mortgage calculators, but comparative interest rate charts.

Cam Scanner

Whether a professional on the go or a first-time buyer, paperwork is one of the more tedious parts of real estate investment. Using a program like Cam Scanner, which converts photos of documents into usable scans, documents can be signed and sent by email from any location, without the need to go to the office or run home. With a scanner app program, listed at #6 on Forbes’ top ten apps, paperwork can be handled up-to-the-minute when required, reducing the chance of missing or lost documentation later.

Social:

How Social Media Can Affect Future Business Functionality

Business-Social-Media

Building future strategies for your business can be based on information cultivated on social media. Using the data provided, you can alter everything from the kinds of products you offer to methods of advertising and marketing. Social media is more than just an outlet for people to chat or play games. It can be an invaluable tool to improve your business and increase monthly net income.

Finding Your Target Audience

Unlike the days of old, determining your target audience doesn’t require extensive cold-call surveys. Using the information provided by those that find your business interesting on social media sites, you can quickly determine your audience. In some situations, you may be surprised by the numbers as those you didn’t think would engage your business find it alluring.

Using Exported Data

When using sites such as Facebook, you can download data concerning your business and import it into spreadsheet software such as Google Sheet. According to PatientSites.com, this information can show you what posts were the most effective in your online strategies. If you could create a different approach regarding the same subject, you could improve your business visibility among those on the social site.

Reputation Management

The Internet and social media have given virtually anyone a voice that can be heard among many. Should a customer have a bad experience with your company, it can become well known throughout his or her own social circles. Social media gives you the opportunity to discover what it is that people do not like about your business and improve. According to Carolyn O’Hara of Forbes, the interactions of these individuals can be spread quickly and damage your reputation if you don’t address it early.

Connecting with Consumers

Social media provides a platform in which your business can connect with consumers on a deeper level. Many people like to be singled out by a large corporation and addressed directly. This platform allows you to placate to those individuals and give a more personable appearance. It can help remove the facade of the “faceless corporation” and introduce a more friendly element. These connections could easily turn into future sales of products and/or services as occasional consumers become fans.

Cost and Time Efficiency

Social media use doesn’t take a great deal of time or money in order to be effective. By spending less than a half-hour per day, you can reach out to thousands of potential customers with a single post or tweet. An active social media account resonates within various consumers and gives them that connection mentioned earlier. In some ways, an inactive social profile and website is as bad as a deserted building in terms of attracting people.

Social media can be used to enhance your business platform in a variety of ways. Whether you’re developing video, blog posts or sending out Twitter messages, it’s another viable method of getting your brand noticed. Use the data you collect from these sites and give the consumers a greater experience.

 

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last update: May 23, 2015

Children and the Technology Explosion

Anyone who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s can testify to the mind-staggering growth of technology that has occurred over the past 30 or more years. What was once an amazing hand-held calculator has now been incorporated into a “phone” that can perform hundreds of actions that would have once required a computer that filled an entire room.

Growing Up in a World Flooded with Technology

Gone are the days when electronic entertainment consisted of a daytime television lineup of soap operas during the week, Saturday morning cartoons and golf on the weekends. Today, children are exposed to an excessive amount of electronic stimuli in the form of video games, computers, social networking and 24-hour television programs that are comprised of almost every genre.

The Information Age

We live in a fast-paced world that requires us and our children to stay updated with current technological advances in order to stay competitive and ensure success. As a result, we find our families spending less time interacting on a personal level and more time communicating through technology by texting, email messaging and talking on the phone. According to an article published by SFGate, the toddlers and pre-school age children of today make up the first “digital generation.” It is not uncommon to witness a child, who is still in diapers, successfully navigating through his or her parent’s cell phone or tablet.

Encouraging Creativity in Our Culture

It is easy to spend our leisure hours immersed in beautifully designed electronic games that capture and keep our attention for hours. It is important as humans, though, that we develop and foster creative skills in order to properly develop our minds. If children are not encouraged to engage in activities that promote individual expression, an important part of their minds will fail to be developed. It is important for parents, extended family and educators to make a concerted effort to pull children away from the magnetism of electronics and introduce them to the joy that is found in creative expression.

Limiting Exposure to Electronics

It is easy for both adults and kids to become preoccupied with electronics and neglect other activities that promote relaxation and exercise. Limiting exposure to games, entertainment and hand-held devices is a good way to keep individuals from spending too much time disconnected from the physical world. Parents and caregivers can set rules that work well for their families such as turning off all electronics at a certain time and banning devices from the dinner table.

Taking Breaks from Technology

Scheduling trips to a local museum, the beach or to other fun places is a great way for families to rediscover the joy that is found in simple activities. Many communities sponsor festivals that have a specific theme, and some areas have day camps such as Fitness By the Sea that embrace the unique, inquisitive nature of children and engage them in educational activities. Making a commitment to schedule an outing once a month is a great way to encourage anticipation and excitement in children for an upcoming, exciting event.

 

Science:

5 Ways the Smartphone Can Help in Physical Therapy

Accidents can happen frequently when you subject yourself to extensive physical activity. Sometimes, physical therapy is needed in order to regain your range of motion and strength in the limbs. During your therapy, there are several ways that your smartphone can play an active role to increase your rate of healing. Although it may not be a medical device, the apps and capabilities of this phone can help keep you focused and on task during your therapy.

Nutrition Apps

One of the most important aspects to physical recovery is through monitoring your diet. As mobile devices continue to develop across the planet, many developers have created some of the most intricate applications for monitoring your food intake. These apps can show you what you shouldn’t be eating compared to what edibles are ideal for a speedy recovery. You may even find yourself using the app after your therapy has been a success in order to maintain nutritional fitness.

GPS Tracking for Movement Monitoring

Many apps will utilize the GPS functionality of the smartphone in order to track physical movement. Apps such as Run Keeper will calculate your movement and time lapsed in order to provide an accurate portrayal of your physical activity. Some therapy may require you to walk a certain distance per day. This kind of software can display all of the pertinent information that you and the physical therapist may need for developing a treatment strategy.

Receiving Messages About Therapy

Mobile marketing is developing at an astounding rate and can help you find affordable physical therapy regardless of your needs. Facilities may use SMS marketing that can send you coupons or discounts for therapy through texts should you sign up for these kinds of offers. According to this post, discounts and deals are often used by therapists to encourage visits allowing you to maximize the experience at an affordable rate.

Email Notifications

One of the most utilized pieces of technology ever created is email. Setting your smartphone up for receiving these messages can help you keep your day organized regardless of where you are. It can help you stay in immediate contact with your therapist while scheduling sessions. According to this post by Mike Vardy, email is efficient through your smartphone because it’s a device that you have with you and use on a regular basis.

Weight Training

Another aspect of some physical therapy is monitoring weight training. There are many apps that can integrate with each other for enhancing the experience of lifting weights that can make it fun as well as therapeutic. Apps such as WeightTraining.com use points to compete with others to become number one. However, you want to check with your therapist regarding weights and exercise to make sure you don’t over exert yourself while you heal.

Smartphones can be used for far more than searching for nearby restaurants or chatting on social media channels. This unit can be one of the most profound tools for everyday life ever conceived for the 21st century. Explore the possibilities of what the phone in your pocket can help you achieve and become more efficient throughout your day.

 

Lifestyle:

5 Tools To Increase Your Lending Potential

Small businesses were hit hard by the recession and they have still not fully recovered. However, there has been a slow and steady climb in the right direction and lending numbers for small businesses are on the rise. ImperialAdvance.com states that with the close of 2014, demand for working capital loans surged and, with the CRA-reporting that lenders have $206 billion worth of loans out to small businesses, the outlook is optimistic. Here is what small businesses can do to improve their lending potential in a still semi-hostile environment.

Be Financially Prepared

One of the most important places to start in the pursuit of a small business loan, according to David Mielach writing for BusinessNewsDaily, is getting one’s personal finances in place. Banks will, as part of their process, take a look at the personal credit history and financial conditions of the parties applying for the small business loan. Running a credit check preemptively will help any applicant be prepared and handle any red flag issues that may hurt their chances. Getting credit card debt in check and having any assets appraised, such as a home, are also two things that can be done to make one more attractive to lenders.

Have Financial Documents Prepared

It’s not just having one’s personal finances in place, the business also needs to be completely prepared before beginning the application process. Some of the papers the lenders are sure to want to see include the business plan, existing financial statements, tax returns and bank statements. The business plan should include projections for future sales, profits, cash flow and income that can be compared against the balance sheets and income statements of the preceding years. Any additional research on similar businesses that can be handed in with the documents that prove the viability of the business in the market can also be a big boost.

Consider SBA Loans or Financing

Looking outside of the traditional big banks and into the Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs are another way to increase lending potential. According to the SBA, it doesn’t loan money directly, but it does help small businesses get funding at low interest rates and add somewhat more flexibility, as the lending standards are somewhat lower. That being said, applying for this type of loan still requires thorough documentation and is much easier when the applicant has healthy personal finances.

Make the Business Compelling

Making a compelling argument for why the business is relevant can also aid the loan application process. The story needs to be fast, compelling and easy to communicate with lenders. Being able to come up the business and define the mission/vision in a few sentences, like pitching a movie, is key. This should include how and why the business will grow, what makes it stand out against the competition, and ultimately why a small business loan is necessary and why the lender should jump on board. After all if the applicant doesn’t know why they deserve a loan, why should the lender give them one?

Have an Attractive Internet Presence

The Internet plays a huge role in business these days and having an active and attractive presence is a good way to appeal to lenders. Having an established and well built website with an active blog and social media pages can be ways to demonstrate consumer appeal and engagement. There are all manners of business promotional tools available, from video interviews to analytic services, and they can help prove to lenders that a business is worthy of a loan.

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Lifestyle:

3 “Comforts” Techies Need

When you’re hunkered over a computer all day coding, building websites or otherwise being geeky, it’s easy to get in the zone and “just deal” with an aching back or subpar diet. Unfortunately, this kind of lifestyle can only be sustained for so long. The digital era is impacting everyone, but techies are especially at risk of putting their health on the line in the name of their work. Luckily, there are a few easy accoutrements from pillows to wrist rests that can keep geeks geeking out happily for even longer.

Whether you’re a geek yourself or you want to surprise one in your life with a little comfort, check out these options for those who are sedate for long hauls. It’s a lot easier to improve posture, alignment, and health than you think:

1. Lumbar support pillow

The best ergonomic chairs can be incredibly expensive, but a great lumbar support pillow isn’t and is a fantastic back support for those who are in chairs all day. You can see a breakdown of the types of lumbar support at Spine Health and get a refresher course on why it matters. Remember: You only have one back, and when it’s not healthy it can impact pain in every other part of the body. Lack of lumbar support is one of the most common complaints chiropractors hear.

2. Sun lamps

Geeks are known for the pasty complexion, and it can be tough to get outside when there’s a big project looming. However, all that unnatural light is stressful on the eyes and can lead to a Vitamin D deficiency. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has guidelines on sunlamps, and reiterates the importance of wearing SPF when they’re in use (UV rays are still the leading cause of skin cancer). However, when coupled with SPF, sun lamps can be a great way to energize geeks and give them that all-important D.

3. Wrist rests or an ergo-keyboard

Today, new carpal tunnel diagnoses are often due to poor typing conditions. A number of people spend hours clicking away each day and even more hovered over their tiny smartphone screens. Without proper wrist alignment, this can lead to pain in the arms that extends throughout the body. Ultimately, carpal tunnel can even set in.

Being comfortable and taking regular breaks when working on a computer is critical. There’s no reason luxury and geekdom can’t go hand in hand.

Lifestyle:

10 Best Construction Apps

Smartphone and mobile device apps are playing a huge part in a number of major industries, including the construction industry. There are now several apps that make projects simpler, faster, and more convenient for contractors, architects, and engineers working in all different types of construction to build with the high-quality construction products. Here are some of the best apps currently on the market.

1. BIMx

Compatible both with Android and Apple devices, BIMx is a free, interactive 3-D tool that is used mainly for the communication and presentation of architectural designs with hyper models. The handiest feature of this app is the ability to work in 2D and 3D simultaneously.

2. Home Builder Pro Calcs

Designed by Double Dog Studios, this app facilitates quick and easy calculations for several different types of building projects. This app can be picked up for less than $5 for both Apple and Android devices. The multiple calculators and unit conversions makes cost and time estimates simple.

3. Snapseed

This app is a little unusual, in that it isn’t a construction app at all: it’s a photo editing app. Many construction professionals find that sharing images is the most powerful way to communicate ideas. Snapseed has been the mobile app of choice for photographers for years; its features like selective focus, filters, vintage effects, and even tilt-shift make this a powerful tool. Both Android and Apple users can take advantage of this excellent app for manipulating and sharing images and can even share them quickly on Twitter or Facebook.

4. PlanGrid

After trying PlanGrid out for free, contractors and architects are sure to be pleased with the app’s collaboration tools that allow teams to automatically sync work in real time. It makes tracking of projects simple from any location, and according to Joe Yovino at the Daily Reporter it has already been part of high profile projects like the $750 million construction of the Sutter Medical Center in California.

5. Architect’s Formulator

This app is the ultimate tool for architects, featuring over 500 formulas that span electrical, carpentry, plumbing, concrete and excavation formulas. Architects can find out all they need to know about supplies required to complete nearly any task from building a wall to sidewalk design. It can be downloaded directly from the Apple Store.

6. Construction Master Pro

Perfect for use on Android smartphones and iPads, this app offers an advanced, award-winning calculator for completing layouts, plans, bids, and estimates. It has the ability to convert between different units and includes features for areas, volumes, square-ups, arcs, circumference, and much more that helps saves time and money on projects.

7. Green Pro

Leading the construction apps in the environmentally friendly category is Green Pro, a tool that helps architects, engineers, owners, and contractors check the green requirements of USGBC LEED guidelines for New Construction and Major Renovations.

8. Aconex Mobile
Available for both Apple and Android devices, Aconex allows contractors to access and capture essential project information on-site. This includes features for videos, images, project documents, and storing records. The multiple useful features have kept Aconex Mobile on construction “best of” lists consistently.

9. SmartBidNet

SmartBidNet is built around the concept of keeping vendors and subcontractors connected, allowing them to track financial data of bids and measure statistical information on related projects. It is available at the Google Play and iTunes stores.

10. Home Inspection

For completing a project, LPM Enterprises Inc. offers this app to provide users the ability to go through a project room-by-room and visually inspect its progress. The app can even help identify any visible flaws or defects before closing the deal on real estate, such as a charming deck with no railings, which according to home safety experts presents a safety risk. It is available on Apple devices.

 

Lifestyle:

5 Best Apps For Money Management

There are an incredible number of money management apps for smartphone users. As more and more of individuals’ information is stored on mobile devices, developers have created an expansive array of apps designed to facilitate money management. These apps not only make payments easier to track, but facilitate accounting as well. The following are some of the most popular apps available today to help users make the most of their money.

Expensify

Expensify, first on DailyList’s Alicia Eler’s list of money managment apps, is a full-featured accounting app which allows for real-time tracking, not simply of purchases, but of related accounting. Expensify, available for free on iOS, Android and Windows devices, has a number of features which make it unique, such as receipt scanning, which allows purchases to be added directly with the click of a button. The app will also track if expenses are billable or reimbursable to simplify tax preparation later. Expensify can even track distance covered for traveling businesspeople and freelancers who are reimbursed by the mile for traveling expenses. This app is closer than any of its competitors to a full-featured accounting system for mobile devices—the app even offers debit and credit card integration to keep track of actual versus recorded expenses.

Mint

While BusinessBee’s Alexia Chianis rated Expensify over Mint on a couple of categories, it’s important not to sell this contender short on the basis of more features in certain areas. Mint, a free web-based personal financial management service, is designed for overall budgeting, something which isn’t Expensify’s strong suit, and it contains robust features in those areas. Whereas Expensify is ideal for business budgeting for an individual, due to Mint’s superiority with budgeting, it has a strong advantage for household budgeting and goal-setting. While handled differently, Mint’s security is on par with Expensify’s, as is its customer support.

DailyCost

While not as robust as either of the options above, DailyCost (free, iOS) is designed for something a bit simpler: tracking purchases during the day. With easy pull-down menus, DailyCost is for the user who simply wants to keep track of their expenses. Far more hands-on than either Expensify or Mint, DailyCost’s main advantage is simplicity. For those just starting out using a budget, AppAdvice’s Aldrin Callum notes its simplicity in simply recording costs. If a full-featured accounting app is a little too much, DailyCost is useful for just tracking expenses during the day.

PrintChecks

With the help of customized check stock, users who prefer printing their own checks can do so with PrintChecks ($4.99, iOS). According to experts in the industry, printing checks is more efficient and less expensive than buying them from a bank or a third party. Users not only can print directly from their phone when needed, but also can keep track of their expenses through PrintChecks’ customized online checkbook, which automatically keeps track of debits and credits. For those who like to keep track of expenses while using checks, PrintChecks does the job admirably, according to Mark Bangs of AppPicker. For those who like having a check-based record of expenses, PrintChecks is ideal.

QuickBooks

Ever the standard, QuickBooks for mobile acts as an extension of the larger desktop QuickBooks program. Because it is designed for users already using QuickBooks on their desktop, QuickBooks Mobile is a way to integrate with the desktop system online through an iOS or Android mobile device. While not designed for standalone usage, QuickBooks is ideal for users who are already part of the QuickBooks ecosystem.

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