A Common Myth Of Home Buying

Piggybacking off of my last post, hiring real estate agents, what’s your method of choice? I’d like to address a common misconception among home buyers.Every couple of months, it seems, I have to talk a friend or family member out of doing this, so I thought I’d share this common myth with the rest of the world.Home buyers often convince themselves that they will save money by choosing one of two options. They believe that if they A) represent themselves, or B) work with the selling agent, they will somehow save themselves 3% of the commission.Here is the honest-to-God truth, from someone who does NOT work in the real estate industry: Nothing could be further from the truth.The reality is that commission is set by a contract between the home seller and the agent whom the seller chooses to represent the home. The selling agent, then, determines how much of that they are willing to share with the “other side”, the buyer’s agent.If the agreed-upon commission is, say 6%, a selling agent could very well choose to offer only 1% to the buyers’ side. This is unlikely, as few buying agents would leap at the chance to sell a home for 1%. Conversely, if the agent needs add extra incentive to sell the home quickly, they could choose to offer 5% to the buyers’ side. During the time I was involved in real estate marketing, I did see several 4% offers to the buyer’s side in return for quick sales.If there is no buying agent, the selling agent keeps the 6% commission to themselves, since that is the contract they have with the seller. A home buyer does not play a role in the contract between seller and seller’s agent. And, again, that is where commission is set.Home buyers are often convinced that a selling agent will reduce their side of the commission of there is no buyer’s agent. This is highly unlikely. When it does happen, let me tell you why you should be extremely wary of these folks:1. You are not adequately represented in the largest financial contract most of us will ever be involved with in our lifetimes. If you choose to allow the seller’s agent to have “dual agency”, where one agent represents both sides, how good of a deal do you think you’re getting in contract negotiations? Particularly when you consider that the agent has agreed to do twice the work for half the pay, per your insistence?2. An ethical agent who will reduce commission and allow you to represent yourself will wind up representing you anyway. Only rookie agents will make this mistake. And a rookie agent will have a hell of a time navigating the complex waters of implied dual agency.An unethical agent will take advantage of you to the fullest, since he or she will have to explain each step of the process to you, thus creating a lot more work.No matter how you feel about real estate agents (and I’ll state right here that I’ve got plenty of mixed feelings myself), you need to be represented when you purchase a home.I’m flummoxed when I hear otherwise rational human beings, people who realize that after a certain age you just hire professionals to do things, suddenly decide to forgo a buyer’s agent.Unless you’re willing to pick up another full-time job, you’re saving yourself nothing. By that I mean that you must be prepared to see homes, navigate inspections, negotiate contracts, etc. and do it well enough to protect what is likely the largest investment in your ‘portfolio’.If you don’t do it well enough, you can find yourself in a home in need of serious repairs, in a contract that exposes you to a world of liability, or any number of worst-case scenarios.I don’t know too many people who would drive without car insurance, no matter what the expense. Because the reality is that, if something goes wrong, it goes very wrong. And no amount of money saved compensates for that.I hope this posting will clear up a widespread myth about home buying. I know a lot of people will be irritated to read this, but I hope that ultimately most people find it helpful.
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The Working Chinese Girl

Abstract:In this paper I would like to explore the world of young Chinese women competing in a modern China for jobs and the fulfillment of the ambitions they left University with but by and large feel unfulfilled. In China today more and more young women are leaving University and seeking their first job. They are full of hope that they will find a good job that pays well and can give them the expectation of promotion and future prosperity. However in the harsh economic world of 2009, when most countries are in financial crisis and the Chinese government is thrusting money into the banking system to save a downward export market, things are not as rosy for these girls as it was five years ago during the capitalist explosion of wealth in China.Introduction:When you ask most Chinese girls in their last year of University what they want to do they all give a similar stock answer. “I want to work of an International company in a executive position where I can earn good money and have prospects for the future” When then asked why this is their goal you get a supplementary reply, I need to think about my future as I will one day need to support my family – under the one baby policy in China – I am obligated to look after my parents when they get old as the state currently does not provide for Chinese senior citizens.” Then you ask the next question, are there enough jobs for all the girls who are looking for the same things, they answer, “fate is our guide, we will work hard and hope that our ambitions will come to pass.”The above shows the wildly optimistic approach many of these girls have in their thought processes and are not easily persuaded that this may be a rosy view of the chances they face in a China in an export decline where taxes are supporting Banks who borrowed widely and unwisely in the USA and home markets. Where International companies are shedding staff and considering moves to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand to take advantage of the cheaper labour and lower costs as China becomes a world economic player and prices rise as domestic demand does not support many of the high-tech and consumer led products for sale.Of course in this new climate the supply of new jobs has declined to an all time low for companies and as staff leave they are not being replaced. The work simply being shared amongst the ones who stay. This in turn is causing enormous pressure on young staff that often break down and leaves to return jobless to their families. At many work fairs held around China only 2,000 jobs may be on offer with over 30,000 students crowding the halls offering poor quality resumes in the hope of a job when they graduate. International companies have learned that while Chinese students have a vast amount of knowledge through memory learning (rote) they have little insight into the subjects they learn and certainly no practical applications or critical thinking skills. So most also realise that additional on job training in China adds additional costs that in the present climate they cannot afford.All this leads to an unemployability of Chinese students that International companies recognise as a problem. It is also one of the reasons Chinese university degrees are not recognised by most Western countries as valid. Two reasons are behind this, the first is the lack of external marking and assessment in China – too easy to cheat your way through the system and the second is corruption, fathers paying for grades to be changed, examinations to be fixed and so the actual degree paper becomes worthless in many countries eyes. This is also a shame, as a University Professor in China I know the average student here works extremely hard and long hours. Given proper teaching and support they can flourish just as much as any Western student if not better.They after all, under the one baby policy, have more pressure to do well and become successful to support aging parents in the future. Older parents also get sick and with no free medical support in China, many either go without treatment or pay huge sums to hospitals for what are often poor quality services. A young woman thinking about all these problems for the future wants to study hard and make sure she can support them.Another solution to family support is of course a good marriage, to the good boy, from the good family, with the good job and the good prospects. Plenty of boys to marry in China but few who live up to such high expectations that these single girls are looking for. A third and sad solution for some is suicide – China has the highest suicide rate amongst young women in the world!Once in the workplace many of the girls find the work either extremely boring or they have an over-load of tasks that they find hard to complete. This leads to stress either way – they often contemplate leaving within a short time, but the family factors keep them in place. Employers know the pressures of family very well and exploit these feelings to the maximum by over-working staff, forcing late working hours and little real reward in terms of income and benefits, however always the promise that tomorrow will be better if they continue to work hard. This situation in a communist country is quite laughable if it were not so tragic for the young working girls.In an ideology of Socialist Marxist ideals China has moved a long way from this thinking today. No cadres now sharing the spoils of hard work, no share of the profits from their hard earned labour. No they have discovered Western capitalism at its worse. In the West laws were passed to protect workers rights (mainly through past Union activities) enabling them redress under the law against employers who exploit the worker. However in China even if such laws exist the natural instinct to obey your boss and do as you are told are so strong that not a single worker would even think about legal redress for unfair working practices.Examples: All based in ShanghaiDolly 25 – Working for a Taiwanese company. Two years as a project manager, no promotion as only Taiwan staff can be promoted in China, even if you become a team leader it is unofficial and not paid for in your contract. Over a third of the staff have left due to the economic turndown, existing staff now working on average a 14 hour day to fulfil obligations to clients. Family has health problems and she fears for her ability to support them unless she changes her job or gains more education.Betty 24 – Working for a Hong Kong bank. Three years as a customer support role. Promotion offered as a sideways move but in fact less initial income. Some training is deducted from income as not directly seen as applicable to the banks welfare. Wants to leave but cannot – her family rely on her income to support two retired parents. No boyfriend as with her low income and high cost of living in Shanghai she cannot afford to go out. Searching for a husband on the internet most evenings is her chief occupation at home.Rachel 32 – Working for an International Art firm. Arranges exhibitions and marketing to potential supporters. Same pay now as five years ago – no prospects of a pay rise in the future. Wants to marry an American to get away from her boring poor life.Sharon: Working for a hotel group. Customer sales and liaison. There were five girls in the sales department but today just herself and the sales manager. She feels with the amount of new hotels being built daily in Shanghai she should move to increase her pay and security. Foreign boyfriend who does not want a commitment to marriage.Sonia: Working for a Japanese company. Design and marketing. She was very happy with her work but found the money was very low compared to similar jobs she sees advertised however because she has very nice work colleagues and a happy atmosphere in the company she decides for now to stay. She gets to travel in her work and at first enjoyed this but now realises that business travel is actually quite boring and repetitive in nature. Long trips, same hotels rooms, same customers.Insight:In each of the examples above the girls were asked how they felt their real experiences of work compared to their expectations on leaving university. They all agreed they have been greatly disappointed by the work experience. They also thought they worked much longer hours than Western people do (14 – 16 hour days are normal) who work a 9 to 5 type arrangements. Although part of the culture in China is you do not leave the office before you boss. So many sit on computers after their contractual hours and play computer games or chat on line to friends. We call this QQ time in China! It is not all work in a Chinese office in fact often they ignore work to watch movies or other such things on the net. This is in the main because they feel they deserve a break when they feel not appreciated or financially supported by the company. Although this seems to be more prevalent in Chinese owned companies that International ones.What do women want?When asked after at least two years working experience what do they now want. A surprising answer came from many of the girls, “a rest” Most actually wanted to quit the jobs and go home to the family. In China the family represents security and peace, so after the hassles and disappointments with employment they felt, to get away for a while and have a rest would be the best thing to do. When asked if a break at such an early time in their employment was wise in respect to the future for pay and promotion most replied, “I used to believe that fantasy but now I know the truth, no-one cares about you but your family” Almost all the girls reported absolutely no loyalty to their employer and felt that the company shows no caring attitude towards them. Although here I have only shown a few examples in fact in interviewing dozens of girls about work – this same attitude after two years of work was very common amongst them. Of course there were some exceptions, girls who loved their job and were very happy to stay and show support for the establishment but this was quite rare.Conclusion:It seems that for most young women in China (Shanghai in particular) they are unhappy at work and mostly wanted to leave to find a better job or simply give up and go home for a while. My own observation is that Chinese girls mature a lot later than Western women and also want marriage much earlier from starting work after university. This being the case they are more in a hurry to succeed and have little patience in going through a maturing process at work to learn the job and seek timely promotions. This is because the pressure of obligation to the parents and the early pursuit of a marriage partner dominate their thinking most of the time. They see little sense in dedication to a career, at the expense of personal relationships, that many in the West recognise as a sacrifice in order to succeed as women in the workplace.While I am not advocating that women have to be so single minded the evidence seems to show that successful people are more likely to have transient relationships and higher rates of divorce than working class equivalents. Of course another factor is over-education, just like in many countries China is making it easier and easier to get a university place. This means a lowering of standards (as seen in the UK) where professors have to cope with students who clearly do not have the ability to attend advanced courses. The result being thousands of graduates who expect good jobs in a shrinking economy and with little real talent to offer.Last Word:This paper may see a little gloomy in content and I recognise that it is. Of course many of the girls who talked about their careers and work were in fact unhappy and it is hard to find happy workers who feel the need to express that feeling to others. So while I recognise a certain bias in the paper I hope that is will at least act as a warning beacon to girls to perhaps lower their expectations of work and prepare for a more realistic view of life’s struggle.

Top 11 Essential Traveler Tips

Holiday travel is in full swing and business people who travel regularly need to be aware of what is lurking for them on the airplane, on the hotel comforter, or in the hotel ice bucket, just to name a few.Let’s start at the beginning; packing for the trip -Tip #1: Since your bag might be searched by TSA personnel, prevent the spread of germs by packing your personal items in plastic bags.Before & during the flight -Tip #2: Be sure to get a full eight hours of rest the night before your flight, drink lots of water before and during the flight to avoid dehydration, and consider taking an extra boost of vitamin C to ward off any pesky germs.Tip #3: Use sanitary wipes to wipe down the armrest and tray table, and use them to open the restroom door, flush the toilet, and turn on the faucet.Tip #4: Do not put items in the seat pockets (anything from dirty diapers to used tissues have been in there) and avoid using the airline pillows and blankets, which are rarely washed or sanitized.The hotel room; let’s concentrate on the remote control, telephone, comforter, drinking glasses, and ice bucket since they are the dirtiest, most unsanitary items in a hotel room -Tip #5: Put your luggage on the luggage rack provided, not on the bed or the floor. When the luggage is not in use, be sure to keep it zipped up so bedbugs cannot become stowaways.Tip #6: Clean the remote control with a hot, wet washcloth or sanitary wipe. The remote is rarely sanitized by the cleaning staff, but often harbors the most germs.Tip #7: After cleaning the remote, make your way to the telephone, which is also rarely sanitized.Tip #8: Pull the comforter off the bed, fold it up, and put it in the closet. It’s been confirmed by actual hotel cleaning staff that the comforters are only washed when there are visible stains.Tip #9: Do not use the drinking glasses; only use the plastic cups sealed in plastic. To find out why, watch this disturbing video from Fox 5 in Atlanta, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6uQC9MM5cQ.Tip #10: If you need to chill some drinks, be sure to use the plastic bag included with the ice bucket. If there isn’t one provided, call the front desk and request one. Like the remote and telephone, the ice buckets are rarely cleaned.If necessary, make the room kid-friendly -Tip #11: Wipe all the hard surfaces down with sanitary wipes (doorknobs, dresser knobs, fridge, microwave, etc.), check under the bed and all the dresser drawers for potentially harmful objects, and if toys fall on the floor, be sure to sanitize them immediately.As a general rule, remember to wash your hands as often as possible while at the airport, on the airplane, and at the hotel. Germs are lurking everywhere, but with a little preparation and by following the Top 11 Essential Traveler Tips listed above, you and your family can remain germ-free.Do you have any other tips to add? Do you have a related story to share? We would love to hear from you!