Successes and Strides in Breast Cancer Research

The five-year survival rate for women with breast cancer has steadily increased in the last twenty years to nearly 100 percent for stage 0 and stage 1 patients (Cancer.org). Important studies, fund-raising, and support from survivors and families have significantly impacted the outlook for this disease—and have pushed research to new heights.

  • Researchers have sped up computerized imaging to identify tumors more quickly, making prognosis and treatment faster. (USC)
  • Advancements in genetic testing have made diagnoses and identifying risk factors for breast cancer much more reliable. (American Cancer Society)
  • Successful studies in immunotherapy and other medications are giving patients many more options for treatment outside of chemotherapy. (Cancer Research Institute)
  • There are more than three million breast cancer survivors living in the US, because of increased awareness and improved research. (American Cancer Society)
  • Improved awareness and support for breast cancer survivors and families have dramatically enhanced quality of life after diagnosis. (Breastcancer.org)
  • The FDA continues to approve medication that not only combat growth of the disease, but also reduce side effects of treatment. (National Cancer Institute

Cleaning Up the Leaves

A stroll through leaves can be the best of times, but cleaning them up can be the worst of times—unless you know how to do it efficiently and effectively.

Tips for leaf removal

  • Check with your township first to see what’s allowed and what leaf-removal services it offers.
  • Use a lawnmower or a leaf blower to mulch leaves, and spread the mulch around your yard for better grass.
  • If you have a compost pile, add your unmulched leaves to it.
  • Add leaves to your garden to create soil-enriching garden mulch (also known as leaf mold).
  • Choose your favorites, dry them, and incorporate them into seasonal home decor or crafts.

Tips for leaf raking

  • Bend at your knees, and stand straight instead of hunching over.
  • Be patient: wait until all or most leaves have fallen to avoid repeat work.
  • Let leaves dry before raking; wet leaves are heavier and difficult to move.
  • Mind the wind, which can make a mess of your leaf piles.
  • Rake your leaves into manageable piles on a large tarp for easier disposal.

End of Summer Road Safety

Next to Thanksgiving and Christmas, Labor Day is one of the busiest driving days of the year. As families pack their cars and head to the beach for some last-minute summer sun, the roads can become quite busy.

Here’s how to make the most of your trip, and get to your destination safely and efficiently!

Prepare for the unexpected. 
It seems no road trip is complete without a few bumps in the road, but whether or not you do encounter any hiccups, you’ll be glad you were prepared with an emergency kit full of essentials, like pliers, a tire pressure gauge, and water.

If conditions aren’t right, postpone. 
There’s nothing worse than trying to force yourself to drive, despite bad weather, lack of sleep, or other dangerous conditions. If you aren’t feeling up to the drive, don’t get behind the wheel, or ask someone else to takeover.

Allot plenty of time. 
There will be traffic—it’s unavoidable in some cases. However, you can plan ahead by checking if any major roadways are under construction and try to find an alternative route. It’s also a good idea to check your GPS an hour or so before you leave for an ETA. Keep in mind, roadways are busiest between 4PM–10PM.

Avoid the busiest travel days. 
Without a doubt, Monday and Friday are the busiest travel days of Labor Day weekend. If you can help it, avoid heading out during the daytime on these days. Instead, head for your destination late on Thursday and pack up late Sunday or Monday.

Make your own adventure. 
Sometimes a trip to the beach or lake isn’t worth the hours spent in bumper to bumper traffic, especially when there’s bound to be an exciting adventure right in your own backyard. A staycation is a great alternative that doesn’t involve the dreaded task of packing.

Traveling this Labor Day? Make sure you’re road trip ready with an arsenal of travel snacksgames, and other tips.

Coworking Spaces Are the Future of Office Life

If you’ve ever worked out of a coffee shop to get away from the house, feeling frustrated with the noise and atmosphere, then you should try out a co-working space in your area. These flexible, low commitment office spaces are growing rapidly at a projected 42 percent in the next year and revolutionizing the meaning of “workplace.”  

What a co working space is  

A co working space is a building that offers working areas for people who need affordable, reliable space outside of the traditional office, coffee shop, or home office. There’s a variety of groups and individuals from different professions, and companies sharing one building at any given time during business hours.  

Who uses the space? 

Startup companies  

A business in its first stages of operations won’t always be able to afford buying their own building, but they still need that collaborative environment to keep making strides toward eventually purchasing one. 

Freelancers  

Freelance writers, photographers, and everyone else who doesn’t have a tie to any company, can benefit from the professional environment away from coffee shops and their home office.  

Working from home/telecommuting 

Growing trends in career decisions have a lot to do with flexibility. Working remotely via telecommuting is huge now. Individuals who telecommute frequently or all the time can now feel like they have a tangible office space every day to focus.  

The appeal of them 

Cost effective  

Most coworking spaces are rented by the day or month, with little to commitment. People who are unsure of their need for space over time can rent per day without fear of being looped into a contract. If you do choose to rent for a few months, it is far cheaper than buying your own space or renting a building.  

Different atmosphere 

As humans, we thrive off change and innovation. So many people are tired of the traditional workplace and desire to have the opportunity to work in different spots, not being tied down to one desk every day.  

Meeting other people  

Coworking spaces give people the opportunity to work next to people they’ve never met. There is a sense of community among those who seek out these unconventional offices, and some even host community events and mixers.  

Future of co working spaces 

Bigger spaces 

Physically, it’s projected that co-working businesses will purchase larger buildings and expand their locations to house more people as they find out about these spaces.  

Collaboration between companies 

There is potential for small companies using these spaces to interact and collaborate on projects. This can help those startup companies and others who need with small businesses.  

Next time you’re working from home and feel stuck in the house, and Starbucks just won’t cut it, see if there’s a coworking space near you! Oftentimes these places will give trial offers and starting discounts.  

Crab in the Sand-wiches

What looks like a crab but tastes like delicious tuna? This sandwich, which is made to look like a clawing red beach-dweller!

Ingredients

  • 2–4 cans of tuna
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • ½ cup mayo
  • ¼ cup mustard
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4–8 croissants, cut in half
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Asiago cheese, sliced
  • Black olives

Instructions:

  1. Drain water from the tuna, and place it into a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Combine the red onions, green peppers, garlic, and parsley together in a separate bowl. Add to the tuna.
  3. Add in the mayo and mustard, and mix well. Sprinkle in salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. Place a piece of lettuce on the bottom piece of a croissant, and spoon some of the tuna mixture on top. Place a piece of cheese onto the tuna, and finish with the top piece of croissant.
  5. Take two toothpicks and place an olive onto each. Stick into the top of the sandwich for eyes. Repeat the final two steps with the remaining croissants. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

United States Retail March 2019

Despite unexpected strength in consumer spending, Thursday’s report on retail sales caused a little reaction. Beyond that, major economic news was scarce this week, and mortgage rates ended nearly unchanged. 

Since consumer spending accounts for about 70% of all economic activity in the U.S., the retail sales data is a closely watched indicator of growth each month. In March, Retail Sales jumped 1.6% from February, which was far above the consensus forecast of 1.0% and the largest monthly increase since September 2017. This followed a small decline in February. The wide swings in consumer spending seen in recent months likely have been due to several factors. Unusually high levels of volatility in the stock market during the fourth quarter were one reason. The government shutdown which took place in December and January was another. In addition, the size and the pace of issuance of tax refunds this year have played a role. Changes in the withholding tables have resulted in smaller refunds on average, and the IRS has been a little slower than usual in distributing them.

The most recent release of the monthly survey of homebuilder confidence from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) showed a further rebound from the weakness seen at the end of last year. During the fourth quarter, the index unexpectedly plunged from the upper 60s to the mid-50s, but it has since returned to levels around the current reading for April of 63. When the index is above 50, it generally indicates positive sentiment among home builders.

Looking ahead, Existing Home Sales will be released on Monday and New Home Sales on Tuesday. Durable Orders, an important indicator of economic activity, will come out on Thursday. First quarter GDP, the broadest measure of economic growth, will be released on Friday. In addition, news about trade negotiations between the U.S. and China could affect mortgage rates. Mortgage markets will be closed on April 19 in observance of Good Friday.

Affordability Options For First-Time Buyers

Most first-time home buyers are eager to have their very own home but it has to be at a price they can afford. Smaller homes, fixer-uppers and cheaper commutes to work are the best options to look into.

The problem is, most firt-time home buyers expect more than what they can actually afford in a home. Coldwell Banker conducted an online survey with 150 of its brokers. The result of the survey yielded a strange trend among first-time home buyers.

Almost of the survey respondents said affordability was their top concern first time buyers. Yet, 81 percent are looking for move-in conditions. Only 7 percent are considering fixer-upper homes. The real estate company suggests looking into fixer-upper homes if you want affordability.

“In the past, first-time home buyers were willing to purchase older, more basic houses in an effort to save money and bhttp://www.doctilo.com/article_writing/index.php?e=33reak into homeownership,” said Jim Gillespie, president and chief executive officer, Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC. He adds, “It is important for first-time homebuyers to remember that by considering a fixer-upper for their first home purchase, they can build equity over time and later move up and into their second-stage home that better reflects their expectations.”

Buyers who choose to go with fixer-ups homes should have the house inspected by a professional home inspector. Buyers need to find out how much it will cost you on repairs. You might end up spending more than what you saved. Homes that need basic fixing or improvement can give already give you a lot of savings but you can even save more on houses that need major work. Again, buyers need professional help so you can determine if your savings on the house is more than the cost of repairs.

Another surprising discovery was that most first-time buyers wanted affordability yet they looked for bigger houses within the metro. The survey shows that 71 percent of first-time buyers wanted bigger houses than they were 10 years ago. A smaller home is less expensive because of smaller footprint and square footage. 41 percent were considering proximity. They were looking for a house near their workplace so they could save on gas. However, houses around economic centers are expensive. These properties bank on the value of convenience. Those who live in areas like this can save on travel time and gas money.

A good alternative to this is finding an affordable place far from economic centers but near a transit oriented development (TOD) or low-cost public transit. There is also the option for carpooling or car-sharing communities.

The survey also showed that most of these first-time buyers looked at five to ten homes before they decided on a house. But if you want to get the most for your money, invest more time in looking at houses. More houses, more opportunities for savings. Look at at least 10 houses. You can usually find big discounts from these: houses that had been on the market for at least 90 days; houses being sold by long-time homeowners; houses for sale from flipping investors who got unlucky; and houses from we-want-to-sell-real-estate banks.

Buyers, Get an Edge During The Busy Spring Season

Usually, spring and summer is the busiest time in residential real estate. Most families want to take advantage of the good weather and the children’s summer break. However in most regions, spring is also when houses are most expensive. During this time, there are a lot of buyers and competition is tough.

Here are some measures you can take that can give you an advantage over other buyers:

  • If you plan to work with a real estate agent, start early. Interview three to four agents and talk to their references as well. Once you have chosen, let the agent know exactly what you’re looking for. Be specific and detailed. 
  • Get your loan pre-approved. By doing this early, you have one less task to think about. You’ll also know how much you can borrow. This will save you from looking at houses you can’t afford. And when you make an offer with a pre-approved loan, the sellers know that you’re serious.
  • Determine how much you can afford for downpayment. According to NAR, first-time buyers usually make a down payment of 6 percent on a home purchase, and 24 percent of down payment funds were gifts from relatives or friends. If you don’t have this option, you can turn to loan programs that accept 5-3 percent downpayment. Closing costs typically range from 2-7 percent of the property cost. 
  • Always be ready for your agent’s call. If the competition is tight, as soon as your realtor finds a good deal that is up to your criteria, they’ll notify you. Be ready to visit the house and once you determine that it’s going to be a good buy, make an offer. 
  • When you look at houses, consider the potential. There are some things you cannot change like the neighborhood, proximity to job centers and schools, the basic floorplan of the house, and size of the back yard. But don’t turn your back on a house because you don’t like the color of the paint, the design of the carpet or wallpaper. These are things you can change according to your taste. Try to imagine the house with the furniture and carpet which you think goes best with the house.  Do you ike it now?
  • If you’re in a seller’s market consut your real estate agent on how much you should offer. If there’s competition, consider offering more than the listing price. Avoid asking for a long closing date or extras like carpet allowances. 
  • Start thinking about home insurance now. Start by checking that your credit report is accurate. The accuracy of your credit repor is very important. It will determine if a company will cover you and for how much. According to the Insurance Information Institute, you should get a copy of your loss history report like a CLUE report from ChoicePoint or an A-PLUS report from Insurance Services Office. They record home insurance claims. If you weren’t able to file a claim in the past five years, you won’t have a loss history report. This gives you a better report and a lower premium. If you previously rented, you should have renter’s insurance. Your insurance history will be helpful when you apply for insurance for your new home. 

Buying a Home With Loans from Family and Friends

Asking for a home loan from a friend or family member is difficult; even if they are people close to you. The money involved is big and you probably see each other frequently or at least once a year. If they turn you down, you might feel uncomfortable with each other. But if you could show them how it could also work for their advantage, you’ll achieve a favorable result.

  • Asking for the loan

    Thomas Fox, community outreach director at Cambridge Credit Counseling said borrowers should approach a private home loan the same way they would a mortgage from a bank. Before you come talk to a relative or friend asking for a loan, you should come up with a plan or proposal.

    “Borrowers should be realistic about what a practical repayment plan would be and not try to borrow more than they can repay. You have to treat it the same as any kind of loan and be realistic,” he says.

    When you have a contract for the loan, even if it is with your parents, they can sue you for missed payments.

  • What private home loans have in common with traditional loans
    Private home loans or private mortgages are also called intrafamily mortgages. They are not very different from a loan you could get from a bank or credit union.

    • Both parties – lender and borrower, sign a promisory note or a mortgage note. This note contains the terms of your agreement.
    • The promisory note states the following: amount that was borrowed; the interest rate; frequency and date of payments.
    • There will be a deed of trust which gives the lender the right to foreclose the property when the borrower fails to pay according to the payment plan.
    • The lender holds a lien on the mortgaged property.

    This set-up is also for the protection of the borrower. The lender cannot ask for full payment abruptly or foreclose on the property because of personal reasons. Your friend or relative can’t just change the payment plan because they changed their mind and want the money back.

  • How borrowers can benefit from private home loans
    • You can get better interest rates. You can negotiate with the lender interest rates that is more reachable for you. The lender can still benefit from this arrangement even if the interest rates you propose is less than what the banks apply.
    • You can propose a payment term that’s doable for you. It can be monthly, semi-weekly or any other. But even if your lender is generous, don’t take advantage. Live up to the terms you agreed on. 
    • Federal tax deductions that apply to institutional loans can also be applied to private home loans.
  • How Lenders Benefit from private home loans
    • Even if the interest rates your proposed are less than what the bank applies, they can still get more compared to other investments like a savings account in the bank or other investment.
    • This will give your friend or family extra income. The promisory note gives them a sense of assurance that they can expect a certain amount from you based on what was agreed upon.
  • What happens if you miss payments?

    Sometimes unexpected things happen that will cause us to miss payments. You might suddenly lose your job or accumulate medical costs that you didn’t financially plan for. Discuss this situation with your lender. This also applies to institutional loans. The loan can be modified like lowering or postponing the payments but for a longer loan term. But don’t avoid your lender’s calls. It might lead to more problems.

Contingencies Your Home Offer Should Include

When you enter into the buying process, you will be commited despite all the uncertainties involved. By adding contingencies clauses in the contract, the buyer feels a sense of protection from the unknowns. Contingencies clauses state things that need to be met before closing the sale. 

  • The protection buyers get from mortgage contingenciesThis is one of the most common contingency. It provides additional security for the buyer. This contingency states that the buyer will acquire a certain kind of mortgage at or below a certain interest rate for a particular amount of the purchase price (usually 80 percent) on or before a specific date before closing. If the buyer is unable to get a loan according to the terms stated on the contingency, he can withdraw from the contract and the earnest money will be given back to him.
  • Protection for sellersThe security that comes with contingencies protects not only the buyer but the seller as well. If the buyer is unable to secure a loan but fails to inform the seller by the date agreed, the buyer is still obliged to buy the house with or without a loan. Depending on the contingency, the seller can also find a mortgage for the buyer. To provide more protection for the seller, they could do the following: set an earlier date for the deadline so the buyer can’t back out at the last minute; negotiate that a significant part of the earnest money will be forfeited if the buyer can’t get a loan by the deadline.
  • Appraisal contingencyAppraisal contingencies work with mortgage contingencies. It can work in two ways: (1) If a buyer cannot get an appraisal that can cover the asking price, the buyer can back out of the sale; (2) If the buyer cannot acquire enough appraisal, the buyer can negotiate for a lower price. If the seller does not agree with it, the buyer can walk out of the sale.
  • Inspection contingencyThis contingency allows the buyer time to inspect the house. Typically the time frame is 3-14 days. If the inspection reveal major problems with the house, the buyer can opt to back out.There are many other contingencies available like insurance contingencies or mold inspection contingencies. Common contingencies vary among states.Never disregard fine prints. Read them carefully and make sure you understand what you’re about to sign. The contract is legally binding. You can’t just change your mind once you sign it.