JUNE 2015

In This Issue

Transunion: 1.5M Hit by Mortgage Crisis Can Re-Enter Housing Market in Next 3 Years

by HousingWire

Homeowners affected by foreclosure, short sale, loan mod eligible again





More than 1.5 million homebuyers negatively impacted by the financial crisis could potentially re-enter the mortgage market in the next three years, according to a new study from TransUnion.


This population of consumers negatively impacted by the financial crisis - commonly known as boomerang buyers - was defined by TransUnion as being 60+ days delinquent on a mortgage loan, having lost a mortgage through foreclosure, short sale or other non-satisfactory closure, or having a mortgage loan modification.


TransUnion's study found that approximately 700,000 boomerang buyers may be able to re-enter the housing market in 2015.


Over the next five years, TransUnion anticipates 2.2 million boomerang buyers could re-enter the market.

The study analyzed the overall U.S. credit-active population at the end of 2006 (the end of the mortgage Bubble), the end of 2009 (the end of the Burst) and in 2014 to determine consumers' ability to re-enter the mortgage market.


"Based on our study findings, the Burst had a significant and dramatic impact on many consumers' ability to re-enter the mortgage market after suffering through the downturn," said Joe Mellman, vice president and head of TransUnion's mortgage group. "It's been over seven years since the beginning of the mortgage crisis; this is significant because many derogatory items, such as foreclosures and short sales can prevent consumers from qualifying for a new mortgage for a period of time. The timing of that challenge can vary: for example, four years must pass after a short sale and seven years must pass after a foreclosure. As consumers responsibly manage their credit and pass these milestones, we anticipate a tide of newly mortgage-eligible consumers entering the market."


TransUnion analyzed, on a depersonalized basis, every consumer it could longitudinally track between 2006 and 2014, which came to 180 million consumers.  During the mortgage Bubble in 2006, 43% of that population, or 78 million consumers, had a mortgage. Approximately 8% of these consumers had a negative impact on their mortgage - 60+ days delinquent, foreclosure, etc. - between the Bubble and Burst.


TransUnion analyzed this impacted population of 7 million consumers to determine how many consumers had recovered to meet agency credit underwriting guidelines by the close of 2014. The study found that only 18% of consumers impacted had recovered by December 2014. However, the study found that 2.2 million of the remaining 5.7 million unrecovered consumers could meet agency underwriting guidelines over the next five years.



More Americans Are Renting, and Paying More, Homeownership Falls 
by New York Times

WESTFIELD, N.J. - To Johnnie McDowell, the house on Livingston Street seems to taunt him every time he walks by. It's nothing special: The two-story home is a bit shabby, and it's been on and off the market in recent months without finding a buyer. Still, he cannot stop dreaming of a better life for his family as he imagines the extra space inside and his children and dog playing outdoors once he weeds the yard.


The McDowell family, however, remains squeezed into a rental apartment: a single floor of an oddly configured duplex that Mr. McDowell has fashioned into three small bedrooms for himself, his wife, Takiba, and two children. With a monthly rent of $1,400, car payments, unpredictable family expenses, a spotty credit report and an empty savings account, Mr. McDowell sees no way to soon pull together a decent down payment.



10 Leaders Share the Habits That Help Them Be Freakishly Productive
by Entrepreneur


Productivity tips come in all shapes and sizes.

Just look at Warren Buffett, a man considered one of the best investors in the history of human civilization. But what might be more impressive than his track record is his schedule. It is the exact opposite of what you'd expect out of the CEO of a $350 billion company. It has been reported that he generally reads for 80 percent of his day and spends the rest having one-on-one conversations with long-time friends who happen to be CEOs of the companies that Berkshire owns, according to the book The Outsiders. This has been his schedule for decades.

Warren avoids investor events, industry conferences and other activities that take up the time of most CEOs, according to the book. Instead he's created a lifestyle where he can focus on what he does best and loves to do, control his schedule and work with people he respects and admires.

But this regimen doesn't work for everyone. So I interviewed 10 leaders and asked them how they stay productive.


1. Create a checklist for decision-making matters

It's very easy to accidentally overcommit. Our brain wiring causes us to have trouble remembering all of our commitments or perceiving how long tasks take. To overcome this, I set up strict checklists for taking on any new projects:

  • Do I have the time, money and resources to get it to completion?
  • Is there an easier or faster way to make it happen?
  • Will it delay anything I've currently green lighted?
  • Does it lead to my Vivid Vision? A vivid vision is a strategic, detailed picture of the company in the future.

If all the answers check out, then I go forward. Simple checklists are a proven tool for consistently applying what we already know

-- Cameron Herold, author of Double Double, CEO coach and renowned speaker


2. Only have one priority

First thing every morning, I ask myself, 'What is the one thing I need to do today to help my company's vision that would make everything else easier or unnecessary?'

When you compound this process over days, months and years, the impact is truly astounding. It is the 80/20 rule on steroids.

Simplifying many priorities to one priority gives you a deeper understanding of what's really important and increases the odds of completing that one thing. Studies have shown that focus on a singular vision is one of the key themes of successful companies.

-- Ryan Simonetti, co-founder of Convene 


3. Time block your entire day

Similar to Bill Gates, I focus more on my calendar for managing my priorities than my to-do list.


I time block my entire day hour by-hour on my calendar. Most people make the mistake of only time blocking their meetings and phone calls. I also time block my planning, time off, key daily priorities, emails that need longer replies and social media (so it doesn't creep in other times).

Time blocking works best if you don't allow the constant barrage of daily interruptions to ruin it. Studies show that the drop in one's productivity is especially drastic if you're doing complex tasks. So I let my team members know not to interrupt me by closing my office door, and I have my assistant answer unscheduled phone calls.

-- Sevetri Wilson, CEO of Solid Ground Innovations 


4. Constantly re-evaluate what your focus is

I've developed a unique approach, one that was inspired by researcher A.J. Burton's Reflection Model, to constantly staying aware of what's most important, prioritizing it and saying no to everything else.

Every day when I'm presented with new opportunities or challenging situations that require critical thinking and could have a big impact on how I spend my time and money, I ask myself the following questions:

  • What? What exactly is the opportunity or challenge?
  • So What? What is its potential impact (positive and negative)?
  • Now What? What should I do about it now?

This approach is powerful, because it keeps me focused on what I should do now and helps me plan for the future. Research shows that better, more holistic decisions are made by systematically evaluating the situation one aspect at a time. Also, by having a simple three-step decision-making framework that allows me to immediately simplify my thought process on the spot, I avoid decision fatigue. I make a decision once and then I'm done with it.


5. Say no by default

In 2013, I wrote two bestselling books, made the Inc. 500 list and sold one of my companies for seven figures, all within a 40-hour work week. These were my only big goals, and I blocked out most of my time everyday to make sure I moved toward them.

A key to my approach is being good at saying no to tasks unrelated to my goals, even when they are extremely tempting or easy to do. This took me years of practice. The fastest way to get good at saying no when being pressured to commit is to say something like, 'If you need an answer from me right now, I'm sorry, but I would have to say no. If you can wait until I have my goal setting time later this week, I may be able to say yes but no promises.'

I then review these decisions bi-weekly in the context of my existing goals and commitments.


-- Benji Rabhan, founder of AppointmentCore 


6. Focus on the clouds and dirt

My company now has more than 350 employees. One of the reasons we've grown so large is that I work on the business rather than in it.

Just as Gary Vaynerchuk recommends, I spend as much time as I can in the 'clouds and dirt':

Set a clear vision and goals (the clouds). I focus on creating clear, measurable and inspiring goals, so my team is empowered to create their own processes and systems -- and I can hold them accountable.

Experience the result for yourself (the dirt). As a business owner, my focus is the result, so I make sure to experience the result first-hand, where it touches customers and employees. For example, once a month, I go on a moving job with the staff and then give feedback to our managers on how to improve the system overall.

-- Aaron Steed, CEO of Meathead Movers 


7. Get in touch with nature

I start just about every day with a 15-minute walk through Central Park in New York City. It is peaceful, beautiful in all seasons and helps to bring focus to the day. My intention on the walks is simply to enjoy nature. I call these walks my 'pocket vacations.'

In a fascinating study performed in Scotland, researchers read the brainwaves of subjects as they walked through different environments such as busy urban streets or parks. In the urban environment, the subjects were more alert and frustrated. In the parklands, their brainwave readings became more meditative. Nature engages and relaxes the brain, which makes it a great environment for reflection, and it makes it easier to concentrate later in the day.

-- Kay Koplovitz, founder of USA Network and Syfy 


8. Establish a minimum hurdle rate

In a study of the most successful CEOs of the last 50 years, each CEO (including Warren Buffett) knew the minimum return on investment, or hurdle rate, they were willing to accept and never accepted any opportunity that they predicted would not hit their minimum.

When I acquire an asset with my business, I do the same thing. I look for something that I can invest in once and then have it create value perpetually. It's been an incredible wealth-building strategy, and I think it applies to my time as well.

I recently noticed that my personal life was suffering because I was chasing too many business opportunities, so I increased my hurdle rate in the business, so I'd have more time in my personal life.


-- Jason Duff, founder and CEO of COMSTOR Outdoor 


9. Start your day over

When I struggle with focus in the middle of the day, it's usually because I'm feeling overwhelmed. To counter this feeling, I mentally start the day over again.

I get out a blank piece of paper, make a list of my commitments and circle the three things that have the biggest impact on driving the business forward. I leave the rest behind, so I don't feel guilty about not getting stuff done. A psychology study shows that we improve our work performance when we write down tasks, because it frees us from being mentally preoccupied.

Before I jump in, I remove any distractions, especially my number-one distraction: email.


-- Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, You Move Me and Wow 1 Day Painting 


10. No more yes: It's either 'Hell yeah!' or no


When deciding whether I should commit to anything, I use my philosophy of 'HELL YEAH! Or no.'. Facing any potential commitment, if I feel anything less than, 'Wow, that would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!' then my answer is no.


For example, when hiring people, I had a lot of candidates for a long-term project but none blew me away. So I rejected everyone, started a new search and then I came across the ideal candidate. For conferences, instead of obligatorily going to three music conferences that I had said yes to, I realized that I didn't feel 'HELL YEAH!' so ended up with 12 free days on my calendar, which I used to get a new business launched.


I recommend Steve Pavlina's approach of rating your satisfaction in each area of your life from 1 to 10 and then replacing any areas below 9 with 1s.

-- Derek Sivers, founder and former president of CD Baby and author of Anything You Want.


Special thanks to Ian Chew, Luke Murray, Sheena Lindahl, and Marc Busko who volunteered their time to edit this article and do research.




One Thing You Should Know About Your Spouse, but 43% Don't
by CNN Money

Image result for african couple

Talking money is often taboo with friends, but shouldn't be off limits within your own household.

Yet 43% of people don't know one of the most basic things about their spouses' finances: how much they make.

Four in 10 married people surveyed by Fidelity could not correctly identify which salary range their spouse falls into. About 10% of those who got it wrong were off by more than $25,000.

It's not just women, or men, who are in the dark. Both were wrong 43% of the time.

"We were surprised how many missed the mark," said John Sweeney, a retirement and investing expert at Fidelity.

If you don't know your household income, it makes it difficult to know how much to save and how to plan for the future, he said.

The knowledge gap is getting worse. About 16% more people were wrong about their spouse's salary now than two years ago when Fidelity last did the survey.


It's not absolutely clear what is causing the spike. Fidelity points to two possible reasons.

One is the rise in the number of people who consider themselves independent workers or self-employed. They're people who may be paid based on a project, rather than receiving an annual salary. While there hasn't been an huge surge in the number of people self-employed (about 10 million), some people are doing a lot of contract work on the side in addition to their salaried work. That might make it harder for someone to pinpoint how much their spouse is taking home each year.



3 Projects to DIY and 3 to Leave to the Pros
by U.S. News

Nearly one-third of Americans are planning a home renovation this year, according to a Liberty Mutual Insurance survey of 2,000 adults. Of those, 7 in 10 plan to do at least some of the work themselves. DIYing it can be a great way to save money, but you have to be careful with the projects you choose to tackle on your own.

Projects that look enticing and easy on Pinterest can easily go awry if you're an inexperienced DIYer. Even experienced DIYers can have trouble handling some of the more difficult home improvement projects.
So which projects should you tackle to increase your home's value, and which ones should you hire out to a professional? Master carpenter Chip Wade of "Ellen's Design Challenge" and HGTV's "Elbow Room" weighs in.


Let's start with the hopeful side of this equation. You can give your home a boost this summer and save money by doing it yourself. You just have to be careful which projects you choose. Chip's top three projects for homeowners to DIY include landscaping, seating and interior painting.


1. Landscaping. This can be a huge project, but you can use a few simple tricks to add some curb appeal and comfort to your home. "A tip I always give is for homeowners or renters to start by removing dead plants, or trimming unhealthy plants that may bloom later on in the season," Wade says. This simple trick can make your home appear more pulled-together. Then, add splashes of color with easy-care perennials in a front garden bed, or place potted annuals on the porch.


2. Seating. If you're hankering to start hammering something, building multipurpose outdoor furniture is a good place to begin. Boxy, bench-style furniture is a great option for cutting your teeth on carpentry. It's fairly easy to build, and there are plenty of tutorials online. This easy, versatile seating can instantly update a front porch or back deck, and give you a more personable outdoor space.


3. Painting. The easiest of these projects is probably interior painting, and it can make a huge difference! The right paint can make a space look larger and more finished. Or you can simply update the look of your home by opting for a trendy color, like these in the Benjamin Moore Color Trends 2015 palette. 


When it comes to home renovation, Wade says, some projects are simply best left to the professionals. Certain projects, of course, are downright dangerous. For instance, you don't want to go around messing with electrical wiring if you don't know what you're doing. The top three popular projects Wade cautions homeowners against tackling alone include outdoor pathways, retaining walls and large landscaping.


Not to DIY


1. Outdoor pathways. This can seem like an easy, cheap DIY project. Pinterest, after all, is full of cute ideas for outdoor walkways. However, Wade notes, homeowners often skimp on costs by using less expensive materials, which crack in a season and need to be replaced. Plus, ensuring an absolutely level underlayment is essential. Without proper tools and knowledge to level the walkway, even the best materials will crack.


2. Retaining walls. These are similarly difficult to install properly, though they can look effortless. Most homeowners don't understand the intricacies of properly installing a wall that will last for years to come. Engineering is essential, especially for walls over 2 feet high.


3. Large landscaping. The last project to steer clear of may seem contradictory. Wade did say that landscaping is a great DIY project, right? However, when it comes to planting medium-to-large sized trees, it's a whole different story. These trees and shrubs need particular care to help them take root. You don't want to spend hundreds on an ornamental tree only to have it die within a season.


If you decide to hire professionals for some must-do projects this summer, Wade gives some good advice: "A great way to find a professional is to ask friends or neighbors who they have used for their renovations or home projects. Additionally, if you have one trusted professional, he or she may be able to recommend a skilled worker they have worked with in the past."


DIY projects can be a great way to save on summer upgrades to your home. But you won't save a dime if you waste money on a project that's better left to the pros




Invest Your Tax Return into Your Biggest Asset
by Home Advisor

Come tax season, many people choose to invest their tax returns in their

homes. What's the primary reason they remodel? According to our research,

48 percent take on remodeling projects that will make their home more

comfortable. And while this seems to represent a shift away from remodeling

to increase a home's value, it doesn't mean one should ignore a project's ROI

potential. Here are a few projects that can make your home more livable and



While not nearly as exciting as a kitchen remodel, investing in a few key

aesthetic upgrades can yield significant returns on your home improvement investments. For example, replacing your front door, siding and garage door

can yield some of the highest ROIs. And while neither project is as "fun" as a

kitchen remodel, all are smart investments that will improve the look and value

of your home. If your exterior could use an upgrade, we've got door and

siding pros who are ready to help.


Adding a wood deck is an investment that will add value to your home while

improving your outdoor living space. The key here is to not over-invest in the

project. Composite decking might be more resilient, but with a significantly

higher average cost and drastically lower ROI, it isn't nearly as smart an


Besides improving the look and comfort of your home, new windows can

have a dramatic effect on your utility bills. When it comes to replacing your

windows, you have two choices: wood or vinyl. Both are good investments,

though wood windows usually have a slightly higher ROI. Get quotes from

screened and rated window pros. 


Finally, the room every homeowner dreams of remodeling: the kitchen. You'd

be hard pressed to find a home improvement expert or realtor who doesn't

think a kitchen remodel is a worthwhile investment. And, for the most part,

they're right. The key is to invest in the right remodel. You might daydream

about upgrading your kitchen with commercial-grade appliances, exotic

hardwood flooring, and other costly splurges. However, don't make the

mistake of thinking they'll return more because they cost more. To get the

most bang for your buck go with a minor, mid-range remodel. Want to check

out kitchen remodeling costs in your area? Our True Cost Guide will tell you

what you can expect to spend.

Luxury Kitchen


Last but not least, before starting any remodeling project it's important to

keep a couple of things in mind. One, if you're planning on moving within five

years, stick to smaller remodeling projects as they typically have shorter

payback periods. Second, and perhaps more important, never spend more

than 25% of the home's value on renovations.