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Maximizing Outdoor Experiential Training and Development Programs

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It is not uncommon for clients and business managers to be swept away by the novelty of outdoor experiential training and development programs. This often leads to misuse, failed expectations, and worse yet, training that is left in the training room. The problem says Nancy Gansneder–University of Virginia professor and board member of the National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE)–is that “people who have a much shorter view tend to want that one-day romp in the park to affect how a team is going to work together. That’s not going to happen. We have to invest an awful lot of time in it, and the payoff is down the road.” (Schetter, 2002). Research conducted by Priest and Lesperance support these finding and suggest that any team improvements made by an OTD program may be lost after six months without support in the form of follow-up procedures including team meetings, socialization events, coaching sub-teams, refresher training, and self-facilitation (1994).

As many providers will tell you, educating the customer is the first step to helping create any training that involves an outdoor component. Utilizing outdoor experiential training effectively requires being an informed cuonsumer, practicing good instructional design, and knowing how to select an appropriate provider.

Being an Informed Customer

Many of the common misuses of Outdoor Training and Development stem from misinformation provided by vendors and a lack of an educated consumer base. Information regarding the benefits, theory and methodology surrounding the field are often overshadowed by glossy color photos of novel acts that at best project an eschewed portrait of the nature and benefits of the learning vehicles.

What is Outdoor Experiential Training and Development

Outdoor Experiential Training and Development can be defined as the purposeful use of outdoor-based active learning opportunities to enhance organizational change through personnel learning (Current Terminology & Methodology). Such programs can be found under a variety of different headings depending on the location of the program.

Common Names for Outdoor Training and Development Programs

United States

  • Experience-based Training and Development (EBTD), (Miner, 1991)
  • Outdoor Experiential Training, (Laabs, 1991; Tarullo, 1992, Barker, 1995; White, 1995)
  • Outdoor Based Experiential Training, (Wagner and Campbell, 1994)
  • Outdoor Development, (Burnett and James, 1994)
  • Outdoor Management Development, (Holden, 1994; Ibbetson and Newell, 1999)
  • Adventure Education, (Miles and Priest, 1993)
  • Adventure-Based Learning, (Callard and Thompson, 1992)
  • Executive Challenge, (Tarullo, 1992)
  • Outdoor Challenge Training, (Baldwin, Wagner, & Rolland, 1991)
  • Adventure Education, Adventure Challenge, Corporate Challenge Programs, (web references)

New Zealand, United Kingdom

  • Outdoor Management Development (OMD), (Ibbetson and Newell, 1999)

Australia and Canada

  • Corporate Adventure Training (CAT), (Priest and Lesperance, 1994)

Building off the Gass, Goldman, and Priest model of EBTD (closely related to OTD), and as referenced by the Project Challenge website (http://www.projectchallenge.com/training.htm, 2004), OTD (EBTD) has six components that separate it from traditional learning.

  1. OTD is experiential: while working under hands-on conditions, people learn best by doing.
  2. OTD is dramatic: the excitement and emotional aspect of these activities focus attention and sharpen minds. People remember what they learn.
  3. OTD is novel: because of the unique context and uncertainty of outcome for these activities, no one is considered to be an expert. Adventures tend to equalize people and break the hierarchical barriers and apprehensions that often exist in large organizations.
  4. OTD is consequential: errors have potential ramifications in adventures (getting wet in a canoe or falling of a rope), unlike in a classroom simulation (where play money is lost). Furthermore, success and failure is supported by those who really matter (coworkers and oneself).
  5. OTD is metaphoric: adventures are a microcosm of the requirements needed for and changes taking place in the work world. Behaviors demonstrated by individuals and groups during these activities are parallel representations of the way they act and what happens in the office. As such, new learning (skills, coping strategies, and bonding among personnel) can be analogously applied toward future efforts on the job.
  6. OTD is transferable: testimonials by past participants support the utility of experience-based training, and limited research studies substantiate that new learning does show up in the workplace. People refer back to their experiences and approach their tasks from a fresh perspective.

Although OTD is based around these unitary concepts, the vehicles and approaches implemented can be quite diverse. Whereas most OTD programs are carried on outdoors (there has been a recent trend to create artificial outdoor environments indoors), the level of instruction, type of activity, level of risk, and achievable outcomes will vary according to the type of program undertaken. Richard Wagner and Christopher Roland, authors of “How Effective is Outdoor Training?” suggest that OTD programs can be broken into two categories:

  1. Low-impact programs generally use initiatives with limited physical risk. Activities tend to involve an entire work group.
  2. High impact programs use initiatives that have a relatively high level of perceived risk. They can involve individuals as the focus of the activity.

This model seems incomplete given the heterogeneous nature of OTD vehicles and their impacted focus on work groups or individuals. Although Agran, Garvey, Miner and Priest suggest a more detailed model of activities and purposes, their model too seems incomplete. A more comprehensive model serving to combine the two is provided below.

Activities and Purposes of OTD

Socialization Games

  • Examples: Name Game, Group Juggle, Human Knot, Lap Sits, Circle The Circle, Yurt Circle
  • Description: Games or activities designed with the aim of familiarizing work groups and individuals with other members of the group, inciting excitement, establishing group tones, and reducing individuals’ inhibitions.
  • Outcomes: Fun, Familiarization, Socialization, Excitement

Group Initiatives

  • Examples: Prouty’s Landing, Croc Pit, Spider Web, Group Wall
  • Descriptions: Problems involving real and imaginary ground-based obstacles (either natural or constructed) that challenge a group to pool their resources and work together to find solutions. Successful solutions require the participation of all group members working in concert (Brassfield, Sandweiss, and Smith, 2004).
  • Outcomes: Team Work Strategies, Strategic Planning, Effective Communication, Decision Making, Leadership, Personality Types, Conflict Resolution, Allocation Of Resources, Creative Problem Solving, Trust And Support.

Low Ropes Courses

  • Examples: Mohawk Walk, Wild Woozy, Dangle Dou
  • Descriptions: Often consist of individual elements or a series of elements based a few feet off the ground. Similar to high rope elements, these activities are not dependent on mechanical or physical belay systems, but rather, aggressive participant spotting. Generally require a degree of athleticism, supported by other group members, and a willingness to take risks. Involve a higher degree of actual risk.
  • Outcomes: Individual And Group Achievement, Team Work Strategies, Personal Growth, Risk -Taking, Trust, Communication

High Ropes Courses

  • Examples: Pamper Pole, Mulit-Vine Traverse, Burma Bridge, Postman’s Walk
  • Description: Refer to any number of elements based high off the ground where a belay system of some sort is utilized to manage risk. Courses present tests of physical strength, stamina, agility, balance, and flexibility, and they invite participants to confront such emotional issues as the fear of heights, the fear of failure, and the fear of losing control. They require participants to draw upon reserves of courage and strength and to re-examine assumptions about their physical and emotional limitations. Conducted within a context of group encouragement and support, these programs often lead participants to a heightened awareness of self and to an increase of confidence and self-esteem (Brassfield et al., 2004).
  • Outcomes: Risk-Taking, Confronting Fears, Re-Assess Assumptions About Physical And Emotional Limitations, Generate Excitement, Build Confidence, Foster Support and Encouragement.

Activity- Based Outdoor Pursuits

  • Examples: Climbing, Kayaking, Caving, Rafting, Mountain Biking
  • Description: Refer to outdoor adventures where rock climbing, kayaking, whitewater rafting, or some other vehicle are used to metaphorically tackle problems. The level of activity, impact and risk depend on the environment, qualifications of the guide, nature of the program, and vehicle utilized.
  • Outcomes: Confidence, Coping With Change And Uncertainty, Leadership, Conflict Resolution, And Judgment.

Wilderness-Based Outdoor Pursuits

  • Examples: Expedition-Style Backpacking, Canoeing, and Rafting
  • Description: Refer to extended or multi-day wilderness adventures where food and supplies are carried along with the group.
  • Outcomes: Leadership Development, Judgment, Conflict Resolution, Examination Of Group Process, Big Picture, Team Work, Bonding

Other Adventures

  • Examples: Military Scenarios, Fire Walking, Bungee Jumping, Car Racing
  • Description: May refer to a variety of simulated or nontraditional activities aimed at novel, shared experiences. Different vehicles allow for different metaphors.
  • Outcomes: Simulations allow for big picture experiences, time management, and decision making, while nontraditional activities focus on motivation, commitment, and leadership of teams.

Myths of Outdoor Training and Development

Outdoor Training and Development has evolved considerably in the past thirty years and is now more on track with current instructional design and training theories. Critics and skeptics of OTD often speak and reference programs of yesterday. Whereas there are still some programs who have fallen behind the times, many of the practices and myths of old OTD programs are outdated and no longer apply.

Myth 1: OTD is inherently risky and places individuals in uncomfortable situations.
Fact 1: Some elements of OTD are inherently more risky than others. However, research has repeatedly shown that adventure activities are significantly safer than most other traditional physical activities” (Priest & Gass, 1997). Further research suggests that the key factors in the level of risk associated with OTD activities are: 1) participant screening and 2) the quality and ability of the guide or instructor. The Project Adventure 20-year study of deaths and injury on challenge courses published in 1995 shows that out of a total of 194,800,000 recorded participant hours, the overall incident and serious accident rate averaged to 4.33 accidents per million participant hours (Jillings, Furlong, LaRhette, Ryan, 1995). That is considerably less than driving a car to and from the site. Although critical incident information is challenging to uncover in the adventure industry, Keith Jacobs of Experiential Systems and member of the Association of Challenge Course Technology recently announced that he was aware of 16 critical incidents between 2002 and 2004. Of the 16 known incidents, 2 fatalities occurred. Nearly all of the incidents attributed some or all responsibility to instructor judgment error (2004).

Myth 2: OTD pushes participants too far and places individuals in potentially harmful positions.
Fact 2: The outdoor training and development industry has almost universally adopted the concept of “Challenge by Choice”. Practitioners recognize that some OTD exercises place participants too far beyond their limits and encourage participants to try their best and only do the things that they are comfortable doing. Boot camps and overhead Trust Falls at the onset of a program are (for the most part) a thing of the past.

Myth 3: OTD is too expensive.
Fact 3: Quality OTD programs, depending on what you are looking for, can range from $50 to $1000 or more per person per day. Training fees often fall right in line with other classroom instruction and training that seeks similar outcomes. As with all training, the money spent is an investment in developing human potential. The expense related to the cost of the program is often directly proportional to the return.

Making Training Work

There is a name for outdoor training and development programs that lack poor instructional design–we call it “recreation.” As Roger Delves, principal consultant with Ellis Hayward, puts it, “one of the biggest risks of any organization investing in outdoor management development (OMD) [the United Kingdom and New Zealand term for OTD] is leaving the training in the training room” (Gregory 1999). To maximize learning, OTD programs must be viewed in the same light as more formal training. Implementation of a design framework like the ADIE Model (assessment, design, implementation, and evaluation) can be very beneficial.

Assess. Peter Sheath, general manager of the Bristol plant of General Domestic Appliances and strong advocate for OTD advises, “Firstly, you must have clear expectations, and make sure they are relevant” (Cook, 2000). If you compete a basic needs assessment, and “if there is no business benefit, don’t do it,” warns Karen Moore, a psychologist and director of assessment at the Dove Nest Group, a management training consultancy based on the shores of Lake Windmere in Cumbria.

Organizations need to be absolutely clear of their objectives and about what they are trying to achieve. John Howard, an OTD provider at Anglesey Sea and Surf Center (ASSC) discusses potential clients. “They either have totally overblown objectives that cannot be met in a short course, or they simply don’t know exactly what it is that they want.” (Shutte, 1999). Vague or fuzzy objectives often lead to failed expectations and failed trainings. Be certain to present your objective to your trainer and provider before designing the program. Fuzzy objectives should be clarified.

Design. Once a goal assessment has been completed, it is equally imperative that an audience and target population assessment is completed. Some activities and programs work well for certain people. High ropes courses, whitewater rafting and wilderness programs are not for everyone, and can be dangerous for older employees with heart conditions. Other activities like group initiatives are more universal and allow participants more options and roles in choosing their experience and level of participation.
In selecting activities and designing the program, be certain to consider pre-instructional and follow-up activities and programs. A good provider can help you select ways that will best meet your programmatic needs.

More will be said about selecting a provider later on in this paper.

Implementation. Programs vary widely in degree by the nature of the product and provider chosen. Groups who come well prepared are most likely to reap the benefits of OTD. In many cases, this means informing participants of what is expected of them and what they should expect of the program. Participants often express signs of anxiety and distress when they lack the proper information to choose to feel otherwise.

Depending on the length and nature of the program chosen, active components and time for reflection and discussion should be shared nearly equally. Participants should be allotted the time to make adjustments and apply new learning immediately, else retention and transfer of information is unlikely. Selecting a good provider is key to the overall outcome of the program. Wagner suggests there is no greater indicator for the success of a program than the quality and ability of the facilitator (Cain and Jolliff, 1998).

Evaluate. There is a true lack of good evaluation that has been conducted in the field of Outdoor Training and Development. As the bottom line becomes more important to companies, human resources departments are feeling the pressure to show support for their programs. OTD programs are frequently at the top of the list because of their novel and flamboyant nature. Steve Nielsen, managing director of the Leadership Institute, is quick to warn evaluators and business directors, “If you only look at the bottom line, you are only going to work on the things that can truly be measured. And if that’s all you are going to work on, then you are doomed to failure. You must deal with People where people live–in their hearts–and then tie it to their minds.”

Choosing a Provider

Availability of Outdoor Training Programs in the United States is staggering. Jim Liggett, owner of Ropes Courses Incorporated and founder of the Association of Challenge Course Technology, recently estimated there to be more than 15,000 ropes course in the United States. This statistic needs to be taken with a grain of salt, however, as many programs and courses are run as part of a summer camp. Kirk Hallowell, co-chair of Experience Based Training and Development (EBTD), suggests there is a difference between programs offered by programs that provide educational programs and organizations that provide organizational development. “A facility, such as the YMCA or camp, may have a ropes course, but they aren’t necessarily able to provide a corporate program” (Campbell 1996).

When approaching a provider, go prepared. Shop around and compare programs from a series of vendors, both locally and elsewhere to get a good feel for what is possible and will work best for you.

Priest provides a characterization of corporate and/or EBTD programs that can be extremely useful when comparing vendors and deciding whether or not an OTD program is right for your organization (c).

Types of Programs and Associated Costs

Program Type Recreation Education Development Redirection
Primary Purpose To change feelings To change thinking To change functional behaving To change resisting and denying
Application Universal/everyone Organization-wide Intact group (team) Pairs or individuals
Action Events Off-the-shelf Tailored Customized Unique and original
Learning Cycle Action emphasis Reflection added Transfer of learning Supported transfer
Organizational Goals Disconnected Aware & related Well integrated Seamless connect
HRD’s Role Can be absent May observe Should assist facilitation Must co-facilitate
Organizational Intent Zero order change First order change Second order change Third order change
Organizational Impact None Individual only System (individual) System + individual
Typical Length 0.5 – 2 days 1 – 3 days 2 – 5 days 3 – 10 days
Cost per Client $50+/program day $100+/program day $200+/program day $500+/program day

The following 10 recommendations grow out of research completed by Richard Wagner and Christopher Rolland (1992) and personal experience as an OTD provider.

  1. Determine the objectives for the program before selecting the vehicle or scope of the program. Program objectives should be specific and measurable. If your objectives are immeasurable, you should negotiate with your provider on more clear objectives that are obtainable.
  2. Select an OTD program on the basis of your objectives and not on the recreational desires of your participants, your own desires, or cost prohibitions. Settling for a lesser program often means sacrificing some objectives. If a program does not fit your objectives, revisit your objectives and consider a new program. Keep in mind, the program should be dictated by the objectives and not vice versa.
  3. Look for a provider that listens to your needs and desires. Quality providers will be willing to customize the training program to meet your specific needs. Be aware of cookie cutter models. What worked for someone else won’t necessarily work for your company.
  4. Select a firm that meets your complete programmatic needs. Some practitioners offer needs assessment and evaluation services, others do not. In many cases, it is more cost effective to use in house trainers who are familiar with your company to conduct the needs assessment and evaluation. In that case, it is also helpful to have those trainers come along and help facilitate discussion. The more that is required of the provider, the more carefully you should check references and choose carefully.
  5. Ask for references and check up on them. Do not rely simply on word of mouth of the adverts of a glossy magazine. Look for a proven track record in program effectiveness and safety. Quality providers should be able to provide you with some sort of documentation.
  6. Inquire about how much time will be spent engaged in activity and how much time will be spent in discussion and reflection. As a role of thumb, at least 20 minutes out of every hour should be spent reflecting. This might take form in various ways. Inquire about alternate forms of assisting transference back to the workforce.
  7. Inquire about the qualifications of facilitators. Are facilitators trained in first aid? Do they have specific experience working with other clients in your work area? What credentials do they carry? If the nature of your business is specific and you cannot find a provider, consider bringing in a subject matter expert from your own company or elsewhere to help employees make connections back to the workplace.
  8. Cost. Programs can range from $100 to $1000 or more per person per day. Do not let cost be the driving factor in your decision. Additional fees for a quality provider should be regarded as investments in employee development and not debits. If cost prohibits you from selecting a reputable provider, consider an alternate training vehicle.
  9. Invite upper management and important decision makers along.
  10. Evaluate the effectiveness of the OTD program. Maximize the results by modifying the program based on evaluation results.

Outdoor Training and Development can be a powerful tool when utilized correctly, but it is important to know its limitations. Although data exists that suggests that OTD programs have measurable achievement in the workplace, there is a need for more formal research to be completed by both providers and corporations who are implementing the programs. Currently, the greatest defense and assurance of quality programs is being an educated customer, ensuring that good instructional design principles are incorporated, and selecting a quality provider that is interested in partnering with your organization (Priest, C). Else, critics might be proved right in their assertion that OTD is simply and over-priced day at the park for burnt-out managers.

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Source by Michael R. Smith

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Where to Find Those Efficient and Hardworking Affiliates?

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Everyone wants a hardworking affiliate, employee, associate, partner, or even spouse, and why not? It’s the next best thing to doing the work yourself. However with the massive outbreak of work and income opportunities available online, how can you beat everyone else and find that one (or more) ideal person who will make your online business explode with success? Here are some of the most ingenious and uncommon ways to snag the idea affiliates for your affiliate program

Direct Sales Agents

Direct sales people are really one of the most enterprising, hard-working individuals in business. They mostly work on commissions or rebates and are willing to literally go door-to-door offering their products to anyone and everyone they bump into. Imagine how much easier their job would be if they could be an affiliate and simply work via the Internet and a mobile device or desktop.

Also, most direct sales people tend to carry more than one brand in their product arsenal so signing up as an affiliate would be almost the same type of work but using a different approach.

Colleges and Universities

Many college kids would be interested in a part-time income opportunity if it would mean funds to help pay for their education, loan, or partying. All you have to do is make sure to offer them products they can endorse as a student.

Freelancers

Did you know that the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest annual report show that 75% of U.S. businesses used freelancers in 2011? Freelancers earned a whopping US$990 billion in 2011 which is a 4.1% increase from the previous year. The only industries where the number of freelancers decreased were in insurance, finance, and construction. Most probably your affiliate program isn’t a part of these 3 industries.

Furthermore, online business and finance experts are predicting the growth to increase incrementally every year even with an economy that is improving. People just want income security and more control over their earnings. With the spate of lay-offs, it’s understandable why many would prefer to work as an affiliate than as an employee.

Scout For Them At Affiliate Conventions

There are annual affiliate conventions held in different cities around the country. You should try to catch one when it is held somewhere near your location. The average turn-out for these types of conventions has increased regularly over the years. Last year, many of them were sold out weeks before the event.

Advertise!

The US Census Bureau has said that as of 2012, 15% of Americans are poor, 43% of young adults depend on their parents to some extent for money. Even more surprising is that the median income of young adults in 1982 was $31,583 and last year it was $30,604 for the same age group! Income is dropping and people are looking for ways to earn additional income outside of their 9 to 5 jobs. That’s where you can come in playing the hero and helping others realize their dream income.

Finally, go online and talk about your product. Make the affiliate marketers come to you and have the luxury of picking the best candidates. You will need some help in marketing your affiliate program so target a marketer who’s experienced in affiliate program and SEO.

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Source by Lina Stakauskaite

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Recession Is Here… Six Costly Mistakes Home Sellers Make During Recessions And How To Avoid Them

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The U.S. is officially in a recession. What is a recession? A recession is a business cycle contraction or general economic decline due to significant drop in spending and other commercial activities. Most pundits and politicians will blame Covid-19 crisis for the recession, but even pre-Covid-19 the proverbial writing was on the wall.

The U.S. had over 120 months of economic growth, which was the longest expansion in the modern history. Other indicators, such as negative yield spread on treasuries (long term bonds having lower interest rates than short term T-notes), were pointing to an imminent change of the economic cycle and an impending recession. The only real question was: when and how bad?

Then Covid-19 came… If the cycle was going to change anyway, Covid-19 acted as a huge and unexpected accelerant to make the recession much more immediate and severe.

Inevitably during recessions all classes of real estate, including residential homes and condominiums, will be negatively impacted as lower consumer spending and higher unemployment rates affect real estate prices and marketing times.

Here are the six costly mistakes home and other real property sellers make during recessions and how to avoid them:

Mistake #1: This will pass and real estate market will be hot again soon

First thing to remember is that real estate cycles are much longer than general economic cycles. Even if the general economy recovers, which eventually it always does, a typical real estate cycle takes as long as 10 to 15 years. The cycle has four key stages: Top, Decline, Bottom and Rise.

Let us consider the last real estate cycle, which lasted approximately 14 years:

  • 2006 – Prices hit the Top
  • 2006 to 2012 – Prices Decline
  • 2012 – Prices hit the Bottom (Trough)
  • 2012 to 2019 – Prices Rise*
  • 2020 – Prices hit the Top
  • 2020 to? – Prices Decline

*NOTE: In 2016 the national residential real estate price index reached its pre-recession 2006 peak levels. It took 10 years for the real estate market to recover.

The way to avoid this mistake is to recognize that real estate cycles take years to run and plan accordingly. Additionally, nobody knows for sure when the prices will hit the top or bottom until after the fact.

Mistake #2: Low interest rates will make the economy and real estate market rebound

Between 2006 and 2011 the interest rates (Fed Funds) were continuously cut by the Federal Reserve Board and went from low 5% to almost 0%. However, that did not stop the real estate recession and depreciation of property values.

Undoubtedly, low interest rates made the economic decline and real estate recession less severe and saved some properties from foreclosures, but it still took six painful years for the real estate market to hit the bottom and then four more years for the prices to go back to their pre-recession levels.

Some markets had never fully recovered. For example, residential home prices in some parts of California, Arizona and Nevada are still below their 2006 highs.

To avoid this mistake, one needs to realize that although low interest rates help stimulate the economy and the real estate market, they do not cure them.

Mistake #3: I don’t need to sell now, so I don’t care

If you do not need to sell until the cycle plays out, which typically is over ten years, then you will not be as affected, especially if you have a strong equity position, limited mortgage debt, and solid liquid assets.

However, it is good to keep in mind that “life happens” and either professional or personal circumstances can change and we may need to sell property before the downturn runs its course.

Furthermore, if a property has a mortgages and its value declines to the point being “upside down,” meaning the mortgage loan balance exceeds the value of the property, then the options of selling, refinancing or even obtaining an equity line of credit, will be significantly limited.

This does not mean that everybody should be rushing into selling their real estate if there is no need to do so, just keep in mind that circumstances may and often do change and property options will be affected, so plan in advance. As one wise proverb says: “Dig your well before your thirst.”

Mistake #4: I’m selling, but I won’t sell below my “bottom line” price

This is a common and potentially very costly mistake. Generally speaking, every seller wants to sell for the highest price and every buyer wants to pay the lowest price. That’s nothing new. When selling real estate, most sellers want to achieve a certain price point and/or have a “bottom line.”

However, it is important to understand that the market does not care what the Seller, or his/her Agent, think the property value should be at. The market value is a price a willing and able buyer will pay, when a property is offered on an open market for a reasonable amount of time.

Overpricing property based on Seller’s subjective value or what is sometimes called an “aspirational price,” especially in a declining market, is a sure first step to losing money. When a property lingers on the market for an extended period of time, carrying costs will continue to accumulate and property value will depreciate in line with the market conditions.

Additionally, properties with prolonged marketing times tend to get “stale” and attract fewer buyers. The solution is to honestly assess your selling objectives, including the desired time-frame, evaluate your property’s attributes and physical condition, analyze comparable sales and market conditions, and then decide on market-based pricing and marketing strategies.

Mistake #5: I will list my property for sale only with Agent who promises the highest price

Real estate is a competitive business and real estate agents compete to list properties for sale which generate their sales commission incomes. It is not unusual that Seller will interview several agents before signing an exclusive listing agreement and go with the agent who agrees to list the property at the highest price, often regardless if such price is market-based.

Similarly to Mistake #4, this mistake can be very damaging to Sellers, as overpriced properties stay on the market for extended periods of time costing Sellers carrying expenses such as mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance.

Furthermore, there is the “opportunity cost” since the equity is “frozen,” and it cannot be deployed elsewhere till the property is sold. However, the most expensive cost is the loss of property value while the real estate market deteriorates.

During the last recession, we have seen multiple cases where overpriced properties stayed on the market for years and ended up selling for 25% to 40% below their initial fair market values.

The solution is to make sure that your pricing strategy is based on the market, not empty promises or wishful thinking.

Mistake #6: I will list my property only with Agent who charges the lowest commission

Real estate commission rates are negotiable and not set by law. A commission usually represents the highest transactional expense in selling real properties and is typically split between Brokers and Agents who work on the transaction

Some real estate agents offer discounted commissions, in order to induce Sellers to list their properties with them. But does paying a discounted commission ensure savings for the Seller? Not necessarily.

For example, if the final sales price is 5% to 10% below property’s highest market value, which is not that unusual, due to inadequate marketing, bad pricing strategy, and/or poor negotiation skills, it will easily wipe out any commission savings and actually cost the Seller tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenues.

The solution is to engage an agent who is a “Trusted Advisor,” not just a “Salesperson.” A Trusted Advisor will take his/her time and effort to do the following: 1) Perform Needs Analysis: listen and understand your property needs and concerns; 2) Prepare Property Analysis: thoroughly evaluate your property and market conditions; 3) Execute Sales and Marketing Plan: prepare and implement custom sales and marketing plan for your property; and 4) Obtain Optimal Results: be your trusted advocate throughout the process and achieve the best possible outcome.

Finding such a real estate professional may not be always easy, but it certainly is worth the effort and will pay off at the end.

In conclusion, this article has outlined six costly mistakes real estate Sellers make during recessions and how to avoid them. The first mistake is not understanding that real estate cycles are long and take years. The second mistake is a misconception that low interest rates alone will create a recovery. Another mistake is not realizing that circumstances may change and not planning in advance. Mistakes number four, five and six pertain to understanding the market value, proper pricing and selecting the right real estate professional.

By understanding and avoiding these mistakes, real estate Sellers have significantly better chances of minimizing the negative impact of a recession while selling their properties.

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Source by Robert W. Dudek

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Useful Tips To Build The Best Gaming Computer

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Every gamer will want their computer to be the best gaming computer among their peers. Sometimes, with a little knowledge and tips and tricks, it is possible to build the best gaming computer and show it off to your peers. This article will show you how:

1) You can’t get the best gaming computer from computer retailers

If you want to get the best gaming computer, you have to build your own. Different gamers have different requirement for their gaming machine. Unless you are willing to pay a high price, you will not be able to buy a commercial computer that fulfills all your gaming needs. The only option you have is to build your own gaming computer.

2) You don’t have to be rich to build the best gaming computer

It is not necessary to burn a hole in your pocket to build the best gaming computer. With some due diligence, do some market research and compare prices around the marketplace. Merchant such as TigerDirect and NewEgg give regular discount to their products and you could save a lot of money if you catch them during their promotional period.

3) Most expensive parts do not have to be the best part

Sometime, the latest model or the most expensive model does not have to be the best part for your computer. It requires various components to work together to form the best computer system. When choosing a computer part, what matters is how well it can integrate with the rest of the components. Compatibility is more important than individual performance. What use is there if you spend lot of money on the latest quad-core processor and find that your motherboard doesn’t support it?

4) You don’t need to change the whole PC to own the best gaming computer

It is a misconception that you have to change the whole gaming machine to build the best gaming computer. If you already have a good barebone system, what you need to do is to upgrade the necessary parts and your gaming computer can roar back to life instantly.

5) Brand is important

Unless you want to see your computer system malfunction every few days, it is important that you purchase the parts from branded manufacturers with strict quality control. Motherboard brand such as Gigabyte, ABIT, ASUS are some quality brands that you can consider

If you follow diligently to the tips stated above. You will be on your way to build the best gaming computer. While price can be an issue, it is better not to scrimp on important computer parts such as motherboard, CPU, RAM and graphics card as it will cost you more to upgrade in the future.

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Source by Damien Oh

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