Archives for May 2012

Working Tunes: What You Should Listen to on the Job [Infographic]

musicDepending on what type of job you might have, different songs and types of music can have varying effects on your productivity or working environment as a whole. For instance, while heavy metal might not be the best choice for, say, a kindergarten teacher, a trucker driving cross-country might benefit from the loud, fast music as it will help him stay alert and awake.

If you’re a desk jockey who works with boring numbers all day there is really nothing you shouldn’t listen to, as long as the song has a beat. If you’re working with programming, though, the ability to stay focused is important so you might want to skip over the heavier tracks or punk songs.

Today’s flowchart-style infographic comes from audio equipment outlet Sonos and gives you a chance to see what music might (and might not) be best-suited for your particular work environment.

For more examples and to see what tunes your job might be best suited for please refer to the infographic below. [Via]


Right Brain vs. Left Brain


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How Draw Something Blew Up Without Blowing Up



Luxury Floats: Lovely Modern Home on Seattle’s Lake Union

lake-union-floating-homeThis stunning home on Seattle’s Lake Union from Vandeventer + Carlander Architects is an unconventional take on the well-loved Seattle floating home. Offering spectacular views on all sides – downtown to the south, Gas Works Park to the north, Queen Anne Hill to the west and the lovely Lake Union all around – the home is in an indisputably desirable location.

But what really makes the home stand out is its upside-down floor plan. The private spaces – that is, those usually reserved only for the residents – are on the first floor and encased in huge, glittering windows.

The public spaces – those normally shared with guests – are located on the second floor. This unusual layout offers incredible views from the living room, dining room and open kitchen.

Outdoor living spaces are incorporated into the home’s design to further strengthen its connection to the beautiful location. Dual terraces and a rooftop deck let residents and visitors enjoy the spectacular views at any time.

The modern architecture of this floating home is perfectly offset by its luxurious setting and a few elaborate appointments, such as the spiral staircase leading to the rooftop deck. It is a home that is uniquely Seattle, through and through.

The Unspoken Appraisal Problem

10-things-youd-love-to-say-at-workAs lenders, buyers, sellers, and real estate agents, the big unknown after a deal is put together is the appraisal. A proper pre-approval can smooth out the other components of the mortgage approval (income, assets, and credit- even title issues can be uncovered before the contracts are signed), so the only “unknown” is the appraisal.

The spoken challenges:

  • An appraised value has always been loosely defined as “what a reasonable buyer would pay to a reasonable seller”, meaning that both sides were of sound mind and under no external pressure.  But in today’s environment of foreclosures and short sales, the whole concept of “reasonable” is muddled.  So, appraisers are challenged, through no fault of their own, in determining a home’s value because they can’t ignore the data and the distressed transactions, but should they be considered “reasonable”?

  • Add to it the prevalence of seller’s concessions today (wherein the seller agrees to pay the buyer’s closing costs) and the appraiser is faced with a further dilemma>  If the seller is willing to pay $10,000 of the buyer’s closing costs, doesn’t that mean that they believe the “reasonable” value of their home is less than the actual price? Many will argue that the seller’s merely looking to make their home more financially attractive to solicit more interest in it, creating more competition, and thereby securing the highest price for themselves.

So, appraisers are in a difficult position, for sure. But, there is a problem with appraisals today that goes beyond a property’s worth. It’s the unspoken challenge.

With the advent of post real estate bubble regulations (predominantly HVCC in terms of appraisals), most lenders order their appraisals through a third-party company. This company gives the appearance of independence- a company immune to the pressures of a loan officer or a real estate agent who might push a value too high. But, in fact, many of these Appraisal Management Companies are owned or controlled by the lenders themselves.  And these AMCs don’t actually do the appraising. In many cases, they subcontract the work out to actual appraisers, but only pay them a fraction of the monies collected.

So, appraisers, besides being under tremendous scrutiny, today have a tougher job and they are asked to work for less money. Is it surprising that they would be conservative in their evaluations? The bubble was not the appraisers fault. There were multiple reasonable buyers willing to pay the prices in 2006, and the values reported were valid at the time. The appraisers didn’t create outrageous underwriting guidelines that allowed too many unqualified buyers to bid on those homes.

Let’s get rid of HVCC and let the appraisers do their job; otherwise, home appraisers will not be showing appreciation in any real estate market.


Don’t Waste A Drop With A Plant Holder Dishrack

media_httpfarm8static_CHmAH.jpg.scaled500Those with a particularly acute eco conscience have likely already bid farewell to their energy-wasting dishwasher, but have they really gone the green distance?

Now, one doesn’t have to waste a drop of that rinse water with the Fluidity by DesignLibero.

The water that trickles from the washed dishes irrigates the plants. The base, thanks to its fluid form, directs the wastewater into the sections where are plant containers placed. Each container is perforated at the bottom for water passage. The containers are filled with clay pellets and coconut fiber, to control the water environment of the plant on the one hand and to keep clean the dish drainer base on the other hand.

This might almost making doing the dishes worthwhile, or, barring that, have two pots of dying herbs to serve as some much-needed motivation.


Full story at DesignLibero via LikeCool.

Homeownership: The Biggest Investment Most People Make


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Gypsy entertainment in a plane


The fourteen-piece gypsy band filled the aisles with music on the flight from Toronto to Frankfurt. Passengers cheered the orchestra, which was travelling to Europe to perform with a popular Romani band

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The science behind the short sale

A short sale is defined as a sale of real estate property where the proceeds fall short of the mortgage debt owed. While all short sales do not necessarily forgive borrowers’ deficiencies (the amount of the unpaid balance), they are often considered more favorable than foreclosures. How a lender determines whether a borrower qualifies in the first place is explained in this video.

Understanding the process from the start is critical, says Kay Maurer, short sale manager at Wells Fargo, reports In a recent Silicon Valley Association of Realtors meeting, Maurer recommended these steps:

  • Determine qualification for government programs (HARP, HAMP, HAFA).
  • Understand that short sales are processed on a first come, first served basis. Submit complete and legible paperwork. If the lender finds an error, the file is returned to the client, who has 72 hours to correct the mistake before losing their place in the cue.
  • Expect a minimum 60-day processing timeline.
  • Communicate openly and regularly with the lender and respond quickly to inquiries.
  • Make no assumptions.

The valuation process begins once the short sale package comes under review. The lender verifies the numbers, evaluating the borrower’s ability to pay the mortgage, the property value, and the purchaser’s offer against the total debt amount. If a short sale potentially offsets the loss incurred by a foreclosure, the lender will be more likely to approve it. Sellers who enlist the help and expertise of short sale negotiators or go it alone will need the patience and wherewithal to navigate what can feel like a muddy process.