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Opinion Editorials

The trend of optimizing, not downsizing American homes

What can a few hours at an open house tell you about buyer trends in America? Quite a bit, especially when you’re listening for commonalities that extend beyond generational divides.

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Quick little market study

Hosting my open house today, I had over thirty folks come through my 2/2 condo listing that was just under 900sf and these folks came in all stages of home buying savvy. I found each and every one of them mesmerizing. Let me tell you about my own little market study that occured in the confines of the open house. Of course, all of this information was filtering through my own mind, and not at all discussed with them, but it was interesting nonetheless to hear why these folks wanted to be in the area and in a home of this specific size.

The Millennial

There was a gentleman who was a Millennial, looking to use the iRealtor program and grilling me for market answers, which I was happy to give; he wanted to be close to Metro and simplify his life. “I just want to be able to get into work really easily and not necessarily have to drive. I get a deeded car space here, right?”

Gen X pairs

There were the couple of pairs of GenXers (possibly Y’ers) who plowed through with their agents – already knowing all of the general area information and really not wanting to have any hands on from the lonely hosting listing agent until they were needed for the real specifics- but I’ll have you know that when I am doing marketing, I am all ears, baby. “OMG, it would be totally easy to get to Whole Foods from here,” says one Xer to the other. “Totally, and the Metro is like right there.” Disco. Simplification.

The Boomers

Then there were the several boomers who came in, some looking for investment potential, but others, these others, they were the ones who were quite interesting. These boomers who were so interesting were the ones who mentioned outright – I am looking to downsize. “Hi. I am looking to downsize. I have a 5 bedroom 3 bath home that my wife and I only use 2 rooms out of. We need to fix that.”

What does this mean, downsize? It means to take your larger than life- well, life- and simplify things. My boomer buddy answered it for us, you take your 3500sf home with a yard and realize that you only actually live in 800sf of it sometimes. Yeah, downsizing. I like to help people simplify things, I’m all about that. The interesting thing is that no matter what stage of life we’re in, we’re all looking to do it.

The shift in American housing

Did you know that last month our buddies, the builders, had their Showcase for the National Association of Builders in Orlando? The home that was the featured showcase “which measure[d] 4,181 square feet and is one of the smallest in the popular program’s 29-year history, shows that the love affair with McMansions seems to be waning.”

It is an exciting thing to hear for sure, to see builders taking things in this direction, especially as an EcoBroker Realtor who spends time discussing things like energy efficiency, smart design and even cost of living with clients.

Even energy efficiency gurus such as the Northern Virginia Mainstay, the Green Gobbler makes mention in a recent article, “Realtors probably could have told you that a couple of years ago, as the McMansions started to tick off area homeowners who were feeling that the over-sized homes were changing the look and feel of older, established neighborhoods and 5,ooo square feet for 2 people just seemed overly opulent. Now, as we see more folks, especially the baby boomers tackling the issue of downsizing and eliminating the minutia from their lives, we see people going back to houses that make sense for the way folks tend to live in their home. People seem to just want to be able to manage their homes and not have a whole section of a house shut off that they realize that they don’t even use. That is just depressing! Plus, when you have a smaller scale home, you have less bills for utilities, now, don’t you? Hmmm…. now that just seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?” Well put, Gobbler! I like how you think, friend.

Optimizing home sizes for all demographics

Saying all of this doesn’t mean that everyone needs to stop building huge houses. It just means that a thoughtfulness can be put into the functionality of space. A simplified lifestyle can come to anyone at any time is what was observed today. It isn’t so much downsizing, but optimizing and helping a client find a home that is going to fit the functionality of how they live once they are in their home and help them simplify their lifestyle by helping them achieve that by listening to what they want and then helping them become a home owner – no matter what stage of life they are in.

Genevieve Concannon is one of those multifaceted individuals who brings business savvy, creativity and conscientiousness to the table in real estate and social media.  Genevieve takes marketing and sustainability in a fresh direction- cultivating some fun and funky grass roots branding and marketing strategies that set her and Arbour Realtyapart from the masses. Always herself and ready to help others understand sustainability in building a home or a business, Genevieve brings a new way to look at marketing yourself in the world of real estate and green building- because she's lived it and breathed it and played in the sand piles with the big-boys.  If you weren't aware, Genevieve is a sustainability nerd, a ghost writer and the event hostess with the mostess in NoVa. 

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35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Bob Ostrow

    March 26, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Interesting concept. I think people believe they’re right-sizing at every phase. However, there are times when people wrong-size themselves into a house. Any time you can see 5 years down the road, ie, having more kids, parents moving in or out, and you don’t take into consideration, you’re wrong-sized. Of course, there are always unforeseeable circumstances that can effect this.

    • Genevieve

      March 26, 2012 at 7:56 pm

      You’re totally right, Bob! The interesting thing is that some people seem to have had a little bit of a perspective change on how much space they actually need, which is interesting to watch- like being a fly on a wall when the light-bulb moment happens. Thanks so much for the comment!

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Opinion Editorials

Facebook fights falsehoods (it’s a false flag)

(EDITORIAL) Facebook has chosen Reuters to monitor its site for false information, but what can one company really do, and why would Facebook only pick one?

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Reuters checks facebook

So Facebook has finally taken a step to making sure fake news doesn’t get spread on it’s platform. Like many a decision from them though, they haven’t been thorough with their venture.

I am a scientifically driven person, I want facts, figures, and evidence to determine what is reality. Technology is a double edged sword in this arena; sure having a camera on every device any person can hold makes it easy to film events, but deepfakes have made even video more questionable.

Many social media platforms have tried to ban deepfakes but others have actually encouraged it. “I’ll believe it when I see it” was the rally cry for the skeptical, but now it doesn’t mean anything. Altering video in realistic ways has destroyed the credibility of the medium, we have to question even what we see with our eyes.

The expansion of the internet has created a tighter communication net for all of humanity to share, but when specific groups want to sway everyone else there isn’t a lot stopping them if they shout louder than the rest.

With the use of bots, and knowing the specifics of a group you want to sway, it’s easy to spread a lie as truth. Considering how much information is known about almost any user on any social media platform, it’s easy to pick targets that don’t question what they see online.

Facebook has been the worst offender in knowing consumer data and what they do with that data. Even if you never post anything political, they know what your affiliation is. If you want to delete that information, it’s hidden in advertising customization.

Part of me is thrilled that Facebook has decided to try and stand against this spread of misinformation, but how they pursued this goal is anything but complete and foolproof.

Reuters is the news organization that Facebook has chosen to fact check the massive amount of posts, photos, and videos that show up on their platform everyday. It makes sense to grab a news organization to verify facts compared to “alternative facts”.

A big problem I have with this is that Reuters is a company, companies exist to make money. Lies sell better than truths. Ask 2007 banks how well lies sell, ask Enron how that business plan worked out, ask the actors from Game of Thrones about that last season.

Since Reuters is a company, some other bigger company could come along, buy them, and change everything, or put in people who let things slide. Even Captain America recognizes this process. “It’s run by people with agendas, and agendas change.” This could either begin pushing falsehoods into Facebook, or destroy Reuters credibility, and bite Facebook in the ass.

If some large group wants to spread misinformation, but can’t do it themselves, why wouldn’t they go after the number one place that people share information?

I really question if Reuters can handle the amount of information flowing through Facebook, remember almost a 3rd of the whole world uses Facebook. 2.45 Billion people will be checked by 25,800 employees at Reuters? I can appreciate their effort, but they will fail.

Why did Facebook only tag one company to handle this monumental task? If you know that many people are using your platform, and such a limited number of people work for the company you tasked with guarding the users, why wouldn’t you tag a dozen companies to tackle that nigh insurmountable number of users?

I think it’s because Facebook just needs that first headline “Facebook fights falsehoods”. That one line gets spread around but the rest of the story is ignored, or not thought about at all. If there is anything Facebook has learned about the spread of fake information on their platform, it’s how to spread it better.

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Opinion Editorials

Will shopping for that luxury item actually lower your quality of life?

(EDITORIAL) Want to buy yourself a pick-me-up? Have you thought of all the ramifications of that purchase? Try to avoid splurging on it.

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shopping bags

In an era of “treat-yo-self,” the urge to splurge is real. It doesn’t help that shopping – or what ends up being closer to impulse shopping – provides us with a hit of dopamine and a fleeting sense of control. Whether your life feels like it’s going downhill or you’ve just had a bad day, buying something you want (or think you want) can seem like an easy fix.

Unfortunately, it might not be so great when it comes to long-term happiness.

As you might have already guessed, purchasing new goods doesn’t fall in line with the minimalism trend that’s been sweeping the globe. Being saddled with a bunch of stuff you don’t need (and don’t even like!) is sure to make your mood dip, especially if the clutter makes it harder to concentrate. Plus, if you’ve got a real spending problem, the ache in your wallet is sure to manifest.

If that seems depressing, I’ve got even more bad news. Researchers at Harvard and Boston College have found yet another way spending can make us more unhappy in the long run: imposter syndrome. It’s that feeling you get when it seems like you’re not as good as your peers and they just haven’t caught on yet. This insecurity often arises in competitive careers, academics and, apparently, shopping.

Now, there’s one big caveat to this idea that purchasing goods will make you feel inferior: it really only applies to luxury goods. I’m talking about things like a Louis Vuitton purse, a top of the line Mercedes Benz, a cast iron skillet from Williams Sonoma (or is that one just me?). The point is, the study found that about 67% of people – regardless of their income – believed their purchase was inauthentic to their “true self.”

And this imposter syndrome even existed when the luxury items were bought on sale.

Does this mean you should avoid making a nice purchase you’ve been saving up for? Not necessarily. One researcher at Cambridge found that people were more likely to report happiness for purchases that fit their personalities. Basically, a die-hard golfer is going to enjoy a new club more than someone who bought the same golf club to try to keep up with their co-workers.

Moral of the story: maybe don’t impulse buy a fancy new Apple watch. Waiting to see if it’s something you really want can save your budget…and your overall happiness.

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Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer got you down? Does it make your job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment without budget worries.

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better equipment, better work

Aside from bringing the boss coffee and donuts for a month before asking, what is an employee to do when the work equipment bites.

Let’s be frank, working on old, crappy computers with inefficient applications can make the easiest tasks a chore. Yet, what do you do? You know you need better equipment to do your job efficiently, but how to ask the boss without looking like a whiner who wants to blow the department budget.

In her “Ask A Manager” column, Alison Green says an employee should ask for better equipment if it is needed. For example, the employee in her column has to attend meetings, but has no laptop and has to take a ton of notes and then transcribe them. Green says, it’s important to make the case for the benefits of having newer or updated equipment.

The key is showing a ROI. If you know a specific computer would be a decent upgrade, give your supervisor the specific model and cost, along with the expected outcomes. In addition, it may be worth talking to someone from the IT department to see what options might be available – if you’re in a larger company.

IT professionals who commented on Green’s column made a few suggestions. Often because organizations have contracts with specific computer companies or suppliers, talking with IT about what is needed to get the job done and what options are available might make it easier to ask a manager, by saying, “I need a new computer and IT says there are a few options. Here are my three preferences.” A boss is more likely to be receptive and discuss options.

If the budget doesn’t allow for brand new equipment, there might be the option to upgrade the RAM, for example. In a “Workplace” discussion on StackExchange.com an employee explained the boss thinks if you keep a computer clean – no added applications – and maintained it will perform for years. Respondents said, it’s important to make clear the cost-benefit of purchasing updated equipment. Completing a ROI analysis to show how much more efficiently with the work be done may also be useful. Also, explaining to a boss how much might be saved in repair costs could also help an employee get the point across.

Managers may want to take note because, according to results of a Gallup survey, when employees are asked to meet a goal but not given the necessary equipment, credibility is lost.

Gallup says that workgroups that have the most effectively managed materials and equipment tend to have better customer engagement, higher productivity, better safety records and employees that are less likely to jump ship than their peers.

And, no surprise, if a boss presents equipment and says: “Here’s what you get. Deal with it,” employees are less likely to be engaged and pleased than those employees who have a supervisor who provides some improvements and goes to bat to get better equipment when needed.

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