Real Estate Information Archive


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Vacation Home Sales Skyrocketed in 2011

by Becky Sill

New Report: Vacation Home Sales Skyrocketed in 2011According to a report by the National Association of Realtors, sales of vacation homes soared last year; up 64.5 percent from sales in 2010. Investors zeroed in on 1.23 million vacation homes owing to the “perfect storm” of market conditions—low interest rates, falling house prices, and more affordability. 


A survey conducted by NAR showed vacation home buyers also came out in larger numbers in 2011, as sales increased by 7 percent from the previous year. When asked why vacation home sales skyrocketed, NAR economist Lawrence Yun said that investors and second-home buyers have swooped down onto the market because of great bargains.


The vast majority of vacation homes purchasers have been investors who intend to make cash off rental, 41 percent of whom purchased more than one vacation home last year. The median number of homes bought per investor was 3, up from 2 the previous year. Of those who purchased a vacation home in 2011, a massive 91 percent plan on renting out the property, according to the NAR survey.


In addition, these second home buyers, nearly half (42 percent to be precise) of them investors, paid for their new properties with cash. Even those who financed their home by securing a mortgage put a substantial amount towards the down payment. The median down payment for vacation home buyers and investors was a sizable 27 percent. Investors, it would seem, see real estate as a profitable investment, and are willing to pay in cash.


The veritable shopping spree can be attributed to the growing number of foreclosures. Distressed sales, whether from short sales or foreclosures, comprised over half of all investor purchases and 39 percent of vacation home purchases, contributing to the 2011 surge.


Today, with record low interest rates and bottomed out prices, buying is more affordable than renting. Indeed, over half of all real estate investors admitted that they purchased properties in 2011 to generate rental income. For those with unfavorable credit scores, however, refinancing is still a hurdle; which means a steady supply of renters for real estate investors.

Top Vacation Home Markets

For those who have been waiting for bargains on vacation homes, now is the time to take advantage of good deals and record low interest rates. As sellers with distressed properties become more anxious to close a deal, they are more willing to provide a bargain. 


According to Zillow, a real estate shopping site, the list of promising places to purchase a vacation home is only growing. In Aspen, Colorado, a ski resort town, local real estate prices are 25 percent below 2007 prices, at a median price of $1.7 million. In the golf Mecca Hilton Head, South Carolina, local real estate agents saw sales on the island rise 13 percent during 2011.


As buyers and investors begin to flood the vacation home market, prices can be expected to rise. Renewed confidence, low prices, and the waning economic distress create a sense of urgency for buyers to enter the market. If you’ve been holding out for the lowest possible prices, now may be the time to make your vacation home purchase.


Monday Morning Coffee

by Becky Sill

Monday Morning Coffee


"Gardner's Law: Eighty-seven percent of all people in all professions are incompetent."

~ John Gardner


Let's hope today's "inspiration" isn't actually true, although we've all probably felt that way at one time or another. Regardless of the percentage, however, it cannot be denied that incompetence really does exist in every profession, even those like physicians, attorneys, school bus drivers and stock brokers.

Some people do a great job no matter what it is they do, while others can't seem to succeed even after trying several careers. Sometimes it's not really a matter of competence so much as matching a job to specific abilities, interests and personality. An introvert who enjoys working alone probably shouldn't pursue a career in communications, while a creative person who enjoys the outdoors likely wouldn't be happy in accounting. No matter how hard you try, you just can't force yourself to love brussels sprouts!

How much of the "incompetence" that we encounter is simply the result of a person who is mismatched for their job? We all have certain skills and personality traits that better suit certain types of careers, but we often start down that path before we've ever gotten to really develop and know ourselves. We believe our parents, guidance counselors, and spouses more than we do ourselves sometimes.

Realizing your true personality is challenging. Applying that knowledge to your choice of career is even more difficult, but absolutely necessary if you want to be happy in your choice. If you're feeling dissatisfied, try to find at least some small aspect of your job that you find enjoyable, and aggressively apply your personality to it to produce more satisfying results.

If that's not working for you, perhaps it's time to take a long hard look at where you've been and where you are and why you don't like it there. Matthew Arnold said, "Resolve to be thyself; and know that he who finds himself, loses his misery." You've probably learned a lot about other people in your lifetime. Aren't you ready to know yourself?

Pro-Luggage Packing Tips from Frequent Flyers

by Becky Sill

Pro-Luggage Packing Tips from Frequent FlyersApart from making it on time, the biggest anxiety that most air travelers face is luggage—packing, hauling it around airports, and paying for check-in fees. The following tips from frequent flyers can help you streamline the packing process and save a few dollars. 

Wear Bulky Items on the Plane

If you need an extra sweater or jacket on your trip, carry or wear it to save that extra space in your luggage. The same rule applies to heavy or bulky footwear. Always wear your boots or shoes with the most poundage on travel day.

Pack Only What You Need

Wherever you go, whether it’s for vacation in the Bahamas or a job interview in Washington, D.C., you’ve got to bring everything you need along with you; nothing less, and certainly nothing more, unless you’re willing to pay extra luggage fees. Its good idea to check the weather forecast for your destination, but never so to bring “just in case” items that you likely won’t wear. Lay out everything you’ll need on your bed. That way you can organize the packing process, while slimming down your suitcase. Scan over everything you’ve laid out, pack just what you need for the trip, and nix the superfluous. 

Space-Saving or Ziploc Bags

Space-saving or compressible bags are a great way to conserve space. When you pack your belongings into smaller plastic bags, you can squeeze out air, reducing in half the space taken up by a pair of jeans or a puffy sweater. Be careful though; the more room you have, the more likely you are to over-pack and bring things you don’t really need. Ziploc bags are also great because they are inexpensive and can be reused every time you travel. 

Use Every Nook and Cranny

Many suitcases and duffel bags have over-looked pockets, pouches, and attachments. Make use of all the space available in the bag to stow away extra belongings, like underwear, socks, or rain gear. You can even store small items inside your shoes, which are perfect for non-liquid medicines, jewelry, or toiletries. Check the handle of the bag and sides for extra pouches and pockets. One more item in your suitcase is one less item you have to carry in your hand or on your person.

Roll and Re-package

As a safeguard to avoid running out of space in your suitcase, roll every item. If you don’t have any space-saving or Ziploc bags, you can roll your clothes in tight bundles for more compact usage of space. Items may get wrinkled when you roll them, so be sure that the place you’re staying has an ironing board. To prevent wrinkles in your clothes, you can pick and choose which items to roll and which to fold loosely or lay flat on top. The items folded loosely or laid out flat are least likely to get wrinkly. You can also save space by chucking excess packaging on beauty products, toiletries, or medicine. If you’re only going for a few days, don’t take the whole bottle of pills or beauty products. Count how many pills you’ll need for the trip and put them in a small bag or case. You can also invest in travel size containers of your favorite beauty products. Many shampoo and toothpaste companies produce travel-size versions of their products. If, however, you can’t find a travel size version of your favorite brand, you can get an empty travel size tube or container, and pour in your favorite product so that it will be TSA compliant.


5 Must-Read Books If You're Considering a Career Change

by Becky Sill

5 Must-Read Books If You’re Considering a Career ChangeThe decision to change your career is a big one. However, plenty of others have been in the same boat, whether they had to consider taking a new job or start a new business. With the economy slowly improving, you might be toying with the idea of a career change. Before you jump into something, prepare for your big change with these must-have books. They are filled with motivational advice, real-life stories, practical tips, and assessment tools.


1. The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success - by Nick Lore

A recent edition of this 1998 bestseller was just released. A lifetime career coach, Nick Lore counsels people who find their job to be just a way to pay their bills. Offering insightful clues, Lore keys readers into finding a career that suits their talents and personality. The book offers over one-hundred self-assessment and diagnostic tools to help readers choose a new career or find a positive perspective to their current career.


2. Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type - by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger. 

This classic offers job seekers the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator (MBPI) as a personality assessment tool. The authors describe 16 different personality types based on assessment outcomes and list occupations compatible for each type, as well as possible pitfalls.


3. What Color is My Parachute? 2012: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers - by Richard N. Bolles

Considered the gold standard of career guides, the book emphasizes identifying your talents and skills. In this 40th anniversary edition, expert Richard Bolles updates the five strategies most needed to have a successful career change. He also adds a twenty-first century update and explains how to use social media tools, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, to build your online presence and search for jobs. With insights into smart resumes, networking, interviewing, salary negotiation, and how to launch your business, What Color is My Parachute? will help you take off on a new career and fulfill your life’s purpose. 


4. The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Mid-Life - by Marc Freedman

In this book Freedman presents a clear road map for people who are old enough to retire yet young enough to have a second career, to follow a long-deferred dream, or start a new business. "It's a time," he writes, "when many have insight about what matters, a special impetus to act on this wisdom, and the ability to do so. In this respect, it's a potential sweet spot, a confluence rather than a reinvention.”


5. Boundless Potential: Transform Your Brain, Unleash Your Talents, Reinvent Your Work in Midlife and Beyond - by Mark S. Walton

This new book works from a neuroscience perspective to offer sound advice for a successful midlife transition. Mark Walton, a CNN correspondent turned consultant, concludes that because brains are wired to be constantly challenged and reinvented, old dogs really can learn new tricks. Walton writes that adults in midlife can unleash creativity and intellectual power to build new careers. Success and happiness, he warns, don’t come without a fair share of hard work. 



Monday Morning Coffee

by Becky Sill

Monday Morning Coffee


"There's nothing as constant as change."



Feel on edge?  Not sure what to expect next? Nerves frayed?  Feeling overwhelmed by today's complex world situation?  How is it that some people are calm, fearless, and content, while others are frightful, worried, overwhelmed, and uncertain about the future?

In the 1950's there were only three models of Chevrolet, about four dry cereals, two or three types of soap, etc. Mom went grocery shopping weekly.
There were no shopping malls, computers, cell phones, portable CD players (or CD's), 401(k)s, Internet, or co-ed dorms.  Life was simple and calm - and revolved around the family. Technology didn't dominate daily life.

Today, our choices have expanded exponentially. There are hundreds of vehicle models, 50 different cereals on the shelf, software for every occasion, hundreds of cable channels, and millions of pages on the World Wide Web.  Think that might clog your thinking just a little? Want to get
back to simplicity, peace, and security?

Try a few of the following suggestions. Begin limiting your choices.  Spend less than you earn. Limit trips to the store. Spend the evening at home - with your family - with the TV OFF.  Go directly home after work. Identify your principles - and live them. Count your blessings daily by entering them
in a journal. Read. Treat yourself to a hot bath.
Think of your life as an extension cord with too many appliances plugged-in.  Each vies for the limited energy you have available until a short-circuit or fire occurs.  Start unplugging all those peripherals now, and you'll notice your life-light begin to shine.

The Amazing Future of Touchscreen Technology

by Becky Sill

The Amazing Future of Touchscreen TechnologyEver since Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, touchscreens have expanded into other technologies. Every mobile carrier has touchscreen devices and they have even moved into tablets and other components. It won’t be long before keyboards and mice are a thing of the past and the greatest piece of equipment is our own fingers. Recognizing Pressure

With touchscreens, it doesn’t matter how fast you move your finger or how hard you push down; the movement is the same. However, that may be about to change. NEC has created a new device that recognizes the intensity or pressure applied by your finger, and adjusts the movement accordingly.  

The process works with the help of four wires in the device that recognize the pressure and respond in the correct direction. If this new technology becomes a reality, it will require fewer buttons to accomplish the same actions. For instance, if you are using a book reader, you can use more pressure to scroll through the pages faster. You can also fast forward or reverse through a song or playlist on your music device.

Hover Detection

Companies are working on developing technology to support hovering. While there will be more kinks to work out - to prevent it, for instance, from changing your screen just because your finger is near, there is usefulness in the hovering technology. Imagine being able to preview a link by passing over it. If you want to open the link, you can press down. The idea is that the screens could tell how close the finger was, and it would seem almost magical in the way it worked.

Texture on the Screen

This is in the early stages of development, but NEC is attempting to develop a touchscreen that has texture on the screen. One example of this is that you would be able to feel the thickness of the folders that you are trying to move or copy. You can also feel the objects you are trying to move, as opposed to locating them through sight. At this point, the device being used for the prototype is large and cumbersome, and it appears that it will be a while before it is ready for use. However, there are several uses for this type of screen that will make it popular when it finally reaches production.

Kiosks in stores would be one place where this type of technology would be a good fit. A textured touchscreen on the dashboard in cars would be another useful place. You could feel the movement of whatever you were trying to do without taking your eyes off the road.


While the next generation of touchscreen technology is not quite ready to be released, it is easy to see where the changes could be beneficial. It is obvious that touching, as opposed to typing or using a mouse is the direction in which technology is headed. It will be interesting to see the next developments.



The Waiting Game!

by Becky Sill

Monday Morning Coffee


"I keep waitin' for my ship to come in, but all that comes in is the tide."

- Lyrics from "Hard Time Losin' Man" by Jim Croce

The well-known Nike commercials have hammered into our heads the phrase "Just do it!"  Regardless of how you view their advertising, there is magic in the words "just do it."  The real key to the message is "doing it," a.k.a. taking action.  Anything you have ever desired is available to you if you will it.

Now, consider those who are constantly washed over by the "tide."  Note that the lyrics in Jim Croce's song say, "I'm WAITING for my ship to come in . . ."  and then, "but all that comes in is the tide."  That sounds like a victim's lament, as in, "Oh poor me, here I am ready and excited, waiting for my ship to come in, and I get dumped on by the sorry tide.  Bummer.  How unfair."  Duhh!  Helloooo!

It's easy to see that "action" is the opposite of "waiting."  Yet, it's so easy to do nothing - waiting passively.  Action requires energy, enthusiasm, movement, and objectives, while waiting requires not even a thought.

Whether your desire (your "ship") is a relationship, wealth, a healthy body, or a new car, you must be the captain, not the port - the "master of your fate," not a tide-washed, sand-covered beach ball.  Life is great!  On your next trip to the beach, buy a boat, a map, and a compass, and then choose your own port of call.  You'll dine at the Captain's Table every day!


Displaying blog entries 1-7 of 7

Contact Information

Photo of Becky Sill Real Estate
Becky Sill
Troop Real Estate
23822 Valencia Blvd. Suite 101
Santa Clarita CA 91355
Direct: (661) 373-3875
Office: (661) 705-0715