7 Ways Your Home Office Can Work for You

7 Ways Your Home Office Can Work For You


We live in a different age. For many, the days of putting on the business suit and fighting morning rush hour traffic while listening to over-caffeinated radio disc jockeys are done. With advances in technology and communication methods, the home office is a common feature in many houses. While this provides a great number of advantages to today’s lifestyle, it is not without challenges. Here are seven ways that you can make working from home work better for you!

  1. Dress the Part. Yes, part of the beauty of working from home is that suit and tie is not required; plus, you save money on those dry cleaning bills. In fact, business casual can mean your favorite pair of sweats. But, there is something to be said for dressing for success. Dress comfortably but not so comfortably that it encourages laziness. Get up and get yourself ready as if you were going to be seen. It’ll help create a routine for your day that may be missing for some working from home. We love those plaid flannel pajamas too, but trust us, you’ll tend to be more focused and on task when you’re showered and dressed for your day.
     
  2. Consider the Space. You know what best helps you be productive and what can serve as a distraction. First, think about where your office is placed in the home. Is this a high traffic area or one that will allow you privacy? Next, anticipate your needs… Is there a good chair with proper support? If not, invest in one. Do you require better lighting? Buy a lamp. Want a view? Move the desk by a window. Also, consider the supplies; have pens and paper nearby, keep applicable files and paperwork within reach, and have access to power chords that’ll keep you going. The decisions about how to make the space work best for you are best made by you.
     
  3. Stay Focused. Be sure your home office is protected. Try not to allow too many of the other activities that happen at home to invade your space. Let that load of laundry that needs folding stay in the other room until you have time for it. Those boxes that need to go into the attic can wait in the garage for a bit longer. Household chores will always be there, and if you attend to them now just to get them checked off the list, you’ll possibly never get important work-related duties done. To help, at the end of each day, write a list of tasks in order of what needs to be accomplished the next day. It will help you hit the ground running and let you crank out things quicker so you can eventually fold that load of whites.
     
  4. Take a Break. When working in a traditional office setting, the breaks are often built in. Whether a co-worker stops by to talk about the game last night or you venture into the break room for a quick snack and chat, interaction with colleagues helps you pace your day. However, when working from home, your coworker may be your cat, who is not the best conversationalist (at least, mine isn’t). Don’t be afraid to give a five to ten minute break every now and then. There’s a reason these are required by law. Play a quick game on your phone, do quick and simple exercises or read a few pages of your new book… You’ll see an improvement in your productivity when you work in some time to refresh and refocus. Set a timer so you don’t get too lost in the activity.
     
  5. Explain it Well. While a break every now and then is great, be sure others aren’t confused. Some people hear that work from home, but they seem to miss the word “work.” The situation does allow for some flexibility, but you still have duties and tasks to perform. For friends and family who think you can have 2 hour lunches or go catch a matinee, kindly explain to them that while there is some occasional ‘wiggle room,’ you still have an important job to perform and need to honor the trust placed in you to work from home.
     
  6. Use Technology. Relationships are key in life, and this includes your colleagues. While convenient, working from home can also feel isolating. We live in a world heavy on emails and texting, so don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and actually call someone. Facetime or use Skype to see a friendly face to have a meeting. So much can be lost or misinterpreted in the written word. A phone conversation or a video chat can quickly clear up matters, have a project move in the right direction and improve relationships!
     
  7. Draw Lines. Working from home can be great, but it can also be all consuming. Due to the flexibility, you don’t have to keep standard “office hours,” which also means you can work longer and into the night. You don’t leave things at the office because things are in the other room. For yourself and for sake of your relationships, set boundaries and expectations. Be clear of your work hours with your loved ones and your coworkers and stick to them. If it helps to keep lines more clear, consider working remotely from a coffee shop or other public space so that there’s distinction between work and personal time.

 

At First Choice Loan Services Inc., we have a large number of our team members who work remotely. This is a unique and special feature of our culture and one way that we embody our core value of being Nimble. This flexibility that we offer our employees is also something we like to offer our clients. We do everything we can to make the home loan process simple and easy for you, even providing online resources for you so that you can take many of the steps of the mortgage journey without leaving your sofa.

Whether working on your home financing or your day-to-day job, we want to help you be productive from the home you love.

5 Benefits of Having a Pet in Your Life

5 Benefits of Having a Pet in Your Life

 

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March 23rd is National Puppy Day which is a holiday most everyone can celebrate! Like donuts, ice cream, and that second glass of wine, puppies are hard to say no to. But, unlike the other options, they come with no calories (unless you’ve been curious what a Milk Bone tastes like, but I digress…). Aside from being calorie-free, puppies and other pets can bring amazing benefits to your life.

Ice Breakers. You may not feel comfortable walking up to a random stranger and saying hello, but when they’re walking around with a cute dog, you may not be able to help yourself. It could happen at the dog park, obedience classes or just walking down the street. Questions like “What’s his name?” “How old is she?” and “Does he do any tricks?” could lead to “What’s your phone number?” “Are you free tomorrow night?” and “Will you marry me?” The dog could even be the ring barrier. Or, you could just make new friends. Friends are good too.

Physical Health. Dog owners need to take their little buddies on a walk. This, along with other games like fetch, help keep your dog healthy but also get your heart moving. In addition to a little cardio, pet owners are also shown to demonstrate lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and lower the risk of heart disease. On top of that, pets are actually shown to fight allergies instead of cause them; recent studies show that homes with infants and furry friends introduce less risks of asthma, eczema and other allergies.

Mental Health. In addition to improving physical health, having a pet in your home has also proven to help your mental health by decreasing stress, increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine (nerve transmitters for calming and pleasure), decreasing depression, and sharpening minds. How could you not feel great when you walk in the door and your pet thinks you’re a celebrity?

Life Lessons. Whether it’s just you and your pet or if you have a large family plus a pet or four, the relationships between pet owners and their four-legged children are always unique. Caring for a pet teaches children valuable lessons of schedules, responsibility and caring for another life. Studies show the work spent in training pets helps remind us the value of patience and help us strengthen our sense of empathy which, as we know, definitely come in handy in other areas of our lives.

Love. Come on… puppy or kitten, goldfish or bird, iguana or gerbil when you love a pet, it’s a member of your family. The greeting at the door, the cuddling on the couch or just the presence in the room can improve any day. Pets’ intuitive nature make them our best friends and confidants. Our lives wouldn’t be the same or as complete without the love that they provide.

So don’t let that backyard go to waste! Sure, there may be the occasional “accident” on the carpet, and you may lose a shoe or two to the chewing monster, but all in all, having a pet in your life can make every day a little brighter and your house feel more like a home.

13,397 Houses Sold Yesterday!

13,397 Houses Sold Yesterday! | Keeping Current Matters

If you read certain headlines, you might be led to believe that the housing recovery has come to a screeching halt. Naysayers are claiming that the threat of rising mortgage rates and a lack of consumer confidence are keeping Americans on the fence when it comes to purchasing real estate. That is actually far from reality.

After all 13,397 houses sold yesterday, 13,397 will sell today and 13,397 will sell tomorrow.

13,397!

That is the average number of homes that sell each and every day in this country according to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Existing Home Sales Report. According to the report, annualized sales now stand at 4.59 million. Divide that number by 365 (days in a year) and we can see that, on average, over 13,000 homes sell every day.

If you are considering whether or not to put your house up for sale, don’t let the headlines scare you. There are purchasers in the market and they are buying – to the tune of 13,397 homes a day.

 

Thank you to KCM Blog for the post.

Moving Up: Was it Worth Waiting?

Moving Up? Do it Now!! | Keeping Current Matters

New reports are revealing that the number of months’ inventory of existing homes available for sale is increasing. Some of these sellers are moving up, some are downsizing and others are making a lateral move.

There is no way for us to predict the future but we can look at what happened over the last year. Let’s look at buyers that considered moving up last year but decided to wait instead.

Assume, last year, they had a home worth $300,000 and were looking at a home for $450,000 (putting 10% down they would get a mortgage of $405,000). By waiting, their house appreciated by approximately 10% over the last year (national average based on the Case Shiller Pricing Index). Their home would now be worth $330,000. But, the $450,000 home would now be worth $495,000 (requiring a mortgage of $420,000 assuming the original $45,000 down plus the additional $30,000 from the sale of their home).

Here is a table showing what the difference in monthly cost (principal and interest) would be if a purchaser had waited:

Cost of Waiting: Was it Worth It? | Keeping Current Matters

 3 dollars and 27 cents.  . Was it worth waiting a year to move up to the home of your dreams? Only you can answer that question.

 

Supply & Demand

NAR Reports Reveal Reasons to Sell Now | Keeping Current Matters

We all realize that the best time to sell anything is when demand is high and the supply of that item is limited. The last two major reports issued by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed information that suggests that now may be the best time to sell your house. Let’s look at the data covered by the latest Pending Home Sales Report and Existing Home Sales Report.

THE PENDING HOME SALES REPORT

The report announced that pending home sales (homes going into contract) “surged” by 6.1%. The increase was “the largest month-over-month gain since April 2010, when first-time home buyers rushed to sign purchase contracts before a popular tax credit program ended”. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, expects improving home sales throughout the rest of the year: “Sales should exceed an annual pace of five million homes in some of the upcoming months behind favorable mortgage rates, more inventory and improved job creation.” Takeaway: Demand is beginning to increase dramatically compared to earlier in the year.

THE EXISTING HOME SALES REPORT

The most important data point revealed in the report was not sales but instead the inventory of homes on the market (supply). The report explained:

Total housing inventory climbed 2.2% to 2.28 million homes available for sale

That represents a 5.6-month supply at the current sales pace

Unsold inventory is 6.0% higher than a year ago

There were two more interesting comments made by Yun in the report:

  • “Rising inventory bodes well for slower price growth and greater affordability, but the amount of homes for sale is still modestly below a balanced market.”
    1. In real estate, there is a guideline that often applies. When there is less than 6 months inventory available, we are in a sellers’ market and we will see appreciation. Between 6-7 months is a neutral market where prices will increase at the rate of inflation. More than 7 months inventory means we are in a buyers’ market and should expect depreciation in home values. As Yun notes, we are currently in a sellers’ market (prices still increasing) but are headed to a neutral market.

 

  • “New home construction is still needed to keep prices and housing supply healthy in the long run.”
    1. As new construction begins to be built, there will be increased downward pressure on the prices of existing homes on the market.

 

Takeaway:

Supply is about to increase significantly. The supply of existing homes is already increasing and the number of newly constructed homes is about to increase.

Thank you to KCM Blog for the post.