7 Quick Tips that Could Save Your Life

Would you know what to do in the event of a life-threatening disaster? Here are several expert tips designed to help you survive anything.

How to survive a plane or train crash

Contrary to popular belief, people do survive plane crashes. The difference between surviving and dying in a plane crash or train crash may be your clothing. Since survival often requires a quick escape, clothing that allows for mobility is crucial. Comfortable shoes are particularly important. High heels and sandals should be avoided at all costs. The FAA also recommends durable, flame retardant clothing that is made of natural fibers (cotton, leather, etc.) Synthetic materials have a tendency to melt when exposed to the high temperatures often associated with a collision.

How to survive in a collapsing building

If you are ever in a collapsing building, forget about looking for a door frame or diving under a desk. Instead, find a stack of paper. Stacked paper has a low capacity for compression, which means it will likely deflect debris and create a small void in the debris where you can safely avoid being crushed.

An easy way to be rescued quickly

A GPS tracker is a great way to let loved ones know where you are in case of an emergency. Fortunately, most modern cell phones have GPS capabilities. With a little creativity, you can turn your cell phone into a tracking beacon that makes your movements trackable at all times. For instance, Find my iPhone is a service offered to iPhone users with a Mobile Me account. It is intended to help the user find their phone in the event that it is lost. Sign up for an account and share your login information with your contact. If you ever go missing, your phone (and hopefully you) can be located within seconds. Similar applications are available for most smartphones.

The secret to quick escapes

Oftentimes, natural disasters turn into manmade disasters when people make poor decisions in the initial seconds after a disaster. For instance, a fire breaks out in a crowded building and occupants become trapped and eventually trampled after heading for the wrong exit. To avoid these nightmare scenarios, make sure you always orient yourself in a new space, taking special care to locate all available exits.

How to survive a hotel fire

Hotel fires can be dangerous because if even a single floor becomes impassable due to fire, all of the floors above may be cut off from escape. To avoid being trapped in a fire in a hotel building, opt for rooms on the 7th floor or lower. Firetruck ladders usually are unable to reach above the 7th floor.

The safest seat during a train wreck

The majority of casualties in a train wreck occur at the front or back of the train. Find a seat in the middle of the train. While you’re at it, find a seat that faces backwards. Keeping your back against the train cuts down on the amount of force absorbed by your body.

How to survive a mugging

In the event that you are mugged, instead of handing your purse or wallet to the mugger, throw the item in one direction and run in the other direction. The mugger will be forced to choose between pursuing you and pursuing the money. If they pursue the money, you are free from danger. If they pursue you, at least you have a running head start.

California Real Estate Market Snapshot – June 2011

We are all familiar with the term “PRICE” when buying a home; however, we may not be as familiar with the term “COST” of buying a home. The COST of buying a home factors in the PRICE, and the mortgage interest rate. If you are one of less than ten percent of buyers who can purchase a home for all cash, then PRICE is most important. However, for most buyers the COST is most important when it comes to buying a home. This is because the affordability of the monthly out-of -pocket expense for a home is more critical than what is actually paid for it. Mortgage rates are currently the lowest they have been in fifty years. We must also go back nearly a decade to find home prices as low as they are today. All this translates into a very low COST housing market. National statistics indicate that home prices are declining. However, California is experiencing a more stable market. In fact, the chief economist for the California Association of Realtors®, Leslie Appleton-Young, has predicted that real estate prices in California will rise two percent in 2011. It has also been predicted by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the National Association of Realtors® that mortgage rates will increase nearly a percent within the next twelve months. These two indicators reveal that next year will still be a very good time to buy, but no time like the present! Prices are not expected to return to the highs of 2005 for several more years. Your Realtor® can give you a clearer picture if now is a good time for you to sell, based on your particular circumstances.

Market Report

June, 2011 Current
Existing Home Sales 499,830 514,660 476,150 -2.9% 5.0%
Median Home Price $293,570 $286,510 $307,000 2.5% -4.4%
Unsold Inventory Index 5.4 months 5.3 months 4.9 months 1.9% 10.2%
Median Days On Market 53.0 56.7 37.4 -6.5% 41.7%
30-Year Fixed Mortgage 4.84% 4.84% 5.10% 0.00% -0.26%

Source: California Association of REALTORS®

1642 Glenbrock Ln, Newbury Park

This property is in an excellent location of Newbury Park. There is only one inlet into this neighborhood which is well-manicured and shows pride of ownership. The home is open and bright with a few upgrades. The master suite takes use of bull-nosed corners, a walk-in closet and access to the private back yard. The landscaping is top notch which makes for great curb appeal.

Property Details

[property_details details=”1″]

Property Photos

Property Map

View Larger Map

10 Reasons to be Optimistic About the Future

Recent polling data demonstrates that more and more Americans are uneasy about the future. There are plenty of problems on the horizon to keep us busy, but it’s important to remember that the future also brings new innovations and opportunities. In no particular order, here are ten reasons you can be optimistic about the future.

Falling Crime Rates

Turn on the evening news, and you might get the impression that the world is being torn apart by criminals and that violent crime rates have never been higher. In reality, the exact opposite is true. Crime has been falling steadily for decades. Rapes, murders, and assaults are at historic lows.



More American Entrepreneurs

It’s trendy to bemoan the decline of the American education system. Critics love to quote numbers about Chinese dominance in math and science, but they fail to understand a crucial truth about the American education system: that while we are slipping in categories that are driven by rote memory and practice, American students have never had more collective confidence or creativity — two skills that are becoming increasingly important in our rapidly evolving information economy. While confidence and creativity may not get you a 1600 on your SAT’s, they are the exact qualities that animate our great innovators like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates. The future belongs to the bold, and no school system creates more bold thinkers than the United States school system.

Rapidly Accelerating Internet Penetration

It’s amazing to consider that there are nearly five billion people on this planet who do not yet have access to the Internet. Internet penetration rates have been skyrocketing since 2006, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. If you think the Internet is amazing now, wait until the other five billion people show up at the party.



Improving Conditions for Women

For the greater part of human history, women have been relegated to background roles. It’s easy to forget that as recently as 1920, women did not even have the right to vote in the United States. Now, women graduate college more quickly and more frequently than their male counterparts. Women also account for just under 47% of the U.S. workforce and have a lower unemployment rate than men.

Designer Organs

It seems like the stuff of science fiction, but it’s becoming a reality — designer organs grown from cells from your own body. In the future, the organ donor may be a relic of the past. If you need a liver, a doctor will simply take a few cells and grow them in a liver‐shaped mold. The result is a liver that is customized to your unique chemistry and has almost no chance of rejection, and a world in which death by organ failure is all but obsolete.




The Large Hadron Collider

The Large Hadron Collider is the largest and highest‐energy particle accelerator ever created. It is 17 miles in circumference and located on the Swiss border near Geneva. Basically, it is the most ambitious and important science project in the history of mankind. It is expected to answer some of the most baffling and fundamental questions about our physical universe, such as the nature of dark matter and the existence of alternate dimensions. Experiments are ongoing, but the real fun begins in 2014, when the LHC is turned up to full power (it is currently operating at about half its eventual capacity).

The Human Genome Project

The Human Genome Project was a massive initiative designed to enlist thousands of scientists in the pursuit of a single goal — the mapping of the human genome. In 2003, the project was completed (ahead of schedule), and now the long, arduous process of analyzing and interpreting the data is underway. There have already been some extraordinary discoveries, such as genes that seem to be directly related to aging. By deactivating these genes, we may be able to double the life of the ‘average’ human. Other possibilities are finding genetic markers for diseases and dysfunctions that will give new insights into possible cures and preventative measures.


Automated Cars

The average luxury car can now sense traffic, alert you when you are within a few feet of a car, and moderate the speed and steering of your vehicle. It doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to see where this is all ending up — automatic cars that drive themselves. In fact, several prototypes have already successfully demonstrated this capacity, and mainstream automakers insist that the technology is available to make these features safe — provided we can get over our apprehension about being hurled down a highway by a computer program.

Social Networks

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are miraculous communication tools in countries where freedom of speech is not guaranteed. They give dissidents the means to organize quickly and without fear of retribution. Nearly all of the major revolutions in the Arab world have been preceded by rallying cries on social networks; most notably the Egyptian Revolution, which literally began as a Facebook Event request. Social networks are the ultimate tools of democracy; they elevate ideas over authority and promote the free flow of information.


Stronger Genetics

Most people understand the perils of inbreeding. When there is not enough genetic variety between the two parents, the children often end up with recessive defects that would not occur if either of the parents was more genetically distant from the other. This principle works both ways. As people begin to mate with people of more disparate genetic backgrounds (a trend that is unique to our era of global travel and migration), recessive defects are all but eliminated from the human gene pool.

Real Estate Reader

Easy Ways to Modernize Your Home

Have you grown tired of the traditional decorating trends of the last few years? If so, here are a few simple and relatively inexpensive ways to modernize your home.

The biggest element of a modern aesthetic (and the easiest to integrate) is a preference for open spaces, clean lines, and no clutter. Remove any piece of furniture that is not absolutely necessary. Get comfortable with the idea that less is more. For instance, a bookcase with only a few books attractively displayed looks more dramatic and classy than a bookcase jammed with books.

Painting is the quickest way to dramatically alter the look of any room. To achieve a modern aesthetic, opt for cool neutrals (like bluish grey or crisp whites). If possible, try to match the tone of your furniture and other big items. You can bring in bold colors with your accents and accessories. For instance, lime greens, oranges, and reds all look beautiful against the backdrop of a modern neutral color scheme.

Today, modernity is not just about achieving a clean, sterile aesthetic à la 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s about finding new ways to enjoy and appreciate the past. For instance, take an old wagon wheel and throw a piece of glass on top of it to make a one-of-a-kind coffee table. This type of repurposing is called “reclaimed modern,” and it is one of the most popular trends in modern decor and construction right now.

Midyear Financial Review

As we approach the midpoint of 2011, investors and consumers are receiving mixed messages about the future of the U.S. economy. Are we on the way up or are we headed towards the dreaded “double-dip?” We take a look at several economic indicators to give you a better idea of what to expect in the second half of this year.

Median home price

Home prices are trending upwards. In the last 6 months, the national median home price has increased by $14,655 — more than 6%. The median home price is not the same as the average home price; it indicates the halfway point for all home sold. In other words, 50% of homes sold recently for more than $251,435 and 50% sold for less than that. An increase in the median home price usually indicates two trends — upward price movement, and an increased interest in higher-end homes.

Turnover ratio

Turnover ratio indicates the percentage of properties that change ownership in a given month. Roughly speaking, it is a measure of the activity within the real estate market. Currently, turnover ratios are low (0.36%) and trending downwards (from 0.43%) over the last couple months, though up substantially from the historic lows of 2008 (0.17%).

Interest rates

Interest rates have been nearly frozen at historic lows for a couple years now. Current rates for 30-year fixed mortgages are still below 5%. Historically, rates are usually between 7% and 12%, peaking in 1981 at over 18%.

Gas prices

Gas prices are on the way down after several months of sustained increases. Most experts anticipate a continued drop in prices as supply lines in the Middle East stabilize and speculators stop bidding up prices.

Consumer confidence

Consumer confidence is a measure (0 to 100) of the optimism people feel about the economy and their personal financial standing. As recently as early 2009, these numbers were below 30. Now, consumer confidence is hovering at 61– down from a high of 72 in March of this year and the lowest since January of this year (53). This is almost certainly a reflection of people’s concern over increasing gas and food prices.

Consumer price index

The consumer price index indicates trends in consumer prices. Currently, prices are heading up steeply. A more careful reading of the numbers reveals a simpler truth, however: food and gas prices have risen sharply, while everything else is rising at a more typical rate.

2071 Montrose Dr., Thousand Oaks

Short Sale. Welcoming four bedroom home with fireplace in the light/bright living room. One Bedroom and full, spa-like Bath down. Master Bedroom with jetted tub. Kitchen with island and double oven. Newer windows on back of home. Patio spans length of home in backyard. Paved and gated area for possible RV. Fenced Dog run.

Property Details

[property_details details=”1″]

Property Photos

Property Map

View Larger Map

Pop Quiz

California Real Estate Market Snapshot – May 2011

Is it better to buy or rent in today’s real estate market? Trulia, a real estate company that follows real estate trends, recently announced that buying is more affordable than renting in 80% of the largest cities in the United States. The Trulia “Rent vs. Buy Index” compares the cost of buying versus renting a two-bedroom apartment, condominium or townhouse in the 50 largest cities in the United States. As rents have increased and prices have remained stable, it is simply more affordable to buy than rent in most cases. Only in the cities of Fort Worth, New York, and Kansas City was renting a less costly option than buying. Of course, there are other considerations to make when deciding between buying and renting. Renting is always a good option when you do not have a large enough down payment or you may need to relocate within the next several years. It is also nice to be able to call the landlord when you have a plumbing problem. There are several advantages, however, to buying also. If you have a 30-year fixed rate loan, your monthly mortgage will not increase. Additionally, if you live in California, your property taxes are unlikely to increase by more than 2% per year. Clearly, owning provides a hedge against large monthly increases. Buying also allows owners to write-off property taxes and mortgage interest payments. The IRS offers no write-offs for renters. While we have experienced a major drop in home prices over the last five years, over the long run homes usually appreciate. There are many other factors to consider when buying or selling, and that is where your Realtor® can help.

Market Report

May, 2011 Current
Existing Home Sales 514,090 498,450 506,680 3.1% 1.5%
Median Home Price $286,010 $271,320 $300,900 5.4% -4.9%
Unsold Inventory Index 5.3 months 7.3 months 4.8 months -27.4% 10.4%
Median Days On Market 56.7 64.4 37.0 -12.0% 53.2%
30-Year Fixed Mortgage 4.84% 4.95% 4.97% -0.11% -0.13%

Source: California Association of REALTORS®