Commercial Mortgage Loans and Fraud

When borrowers or people in general hear “commercial mortgage and fraud” in the same sentence the word commercial mortgage broker seems to pop right in mind. The reality however is that many borrowers play a larger role in fraudulent loans than the professional in the business. Whether it’s just trying to not disclose a certain piece of information or in the extreme creating false documentation, it is always the wrong thing to do and will almost always come back to the borrower.Why inexperienced borrowers that do maybe 2 or 3 commercial mortgages in their lifetime think they are going to be able to trick a professional underwriter, whose job it is to thoroughly police the file is beyond me.We recently had a loan where the borrower tried to cover up their 30 day, rolling late payments with a story about a previous bank employee(that was no longer with the bank) that permitted them to defer their payment and created a fake letter on the banks letterhead supporting their story. The letter did in fact fool all involved in the beginning of the process, which resulted in a pre approved loan and a good faith deposit that was sent into the bank by the borrower.However, after the underwriter called the existing bank for a pay off statement and to confirm the story, the truth was revealed. The end result of course was a waste of 2 months and the $5,000 deposit will not be refunded to the borrower. The bank could take action or report the borrower though I doubt they will bother.Commercial loans can be difficult and closing some are harder than others, but no matter how difficult the borrowers situation is, it is never a good idea to “misrepresent” the truth about their commercial loan. It will come back, and the borrower at a minimum will lose money and possibly serve jail time for commercial mortgage fraud.

Posted in Finance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Some Unnecessary Small Business Expenses to Avoid

When you start a business, you have to be extra careful with how you spend your capital. There are many ways for small business owners to increase their profits. Reducing their costs is one of the simplest and most effective ones. A lot of the times, entrepreneurs would add costs to their budgets that they don’t necessarily have to make. It might appear to them that these are necessary expenses when that’s not the case. They can add many of these expenses once their business has established.Expenses That Small Businesses Should AvoidExcessive AdvertisingYes, advertising is quite important for businesses, but excessive advertisement is not. It still makes sense for large businesses to go full-on with advertising because they have the budget to do so. However, when it comes to small businesses, they must do intelligent and selective advertising only. Their first course of action should be to identify the advertising channels that work best for them. Just because you are a restaurant at the corner of a street does not mean you have to use awnings, vinyls, neon signs, and all other types of materials for advertising purposes. Pick the ones that work and skip what doesn’t.Too Many Work HoursYou don’t necessarily have to follow the trends of your competitors to compete with them. It does not matter how good they are, even the best ones can make mistakes at times. Many business owners choose to keep their premises opened for customers for long hours. They will open the business early in the morning and close it late at night just so they can serve more customers. However, one must do cost calculation before taking such a step? What if you are getting only five customers in the first three hours of the business and five more at the last two hours?Now imagine the cost of utility, wages of your employees, etc. Are you covering the costs of keeping your business opened for five additional hours with only 10 customers? Even if you want to continue this way, you better test it for a week only. If the response is cold, you should quit this practice as soon as possible.Pursuing the Best of EverythingThe idea sounds great but is not the way to go about doing business when you are in your early stages. You should spend your money on things you need, not the things you want unless you have the budget to do so. If you are renting space for your office, you should look for a place that you can easily afford. Going for the best location in the most commercial area will cost you a lot of money. You can save your money even when it comes to internal equipment. Why buy new couches, seats and brand new computers when you can do with high-quality used equipment?Why go for a printer with fancy looks and capacity to print hundreds of pages in a minute when you won’t ever need that many printouts at a time? Go with simple and beautiful when it comes to decorating your office. You don’t want to spend your budget on things that are not going to yield any benefits for your business.Hiring IT StaffIT is integral to any business today, tech or non-tech. However, it does not mean you have to have an IT team on board. One of the beauties of modern technology is that it allows you to outsource a lot of the business processes. The best thing about outsourcing business processes is that you can save a lot of money by doing so. Managed IT services are a perfect way for you to save IT costs while benefitting from expertise of the best professionals of the industry. Rather than paying thousands of dollars to three or four IT people, it makes more sense for small businesses to outsource their IT processes for a small monthly fee.The good news is that you can outsource almost anything IT-related. From basic helpdesk to on-demand data officers, IT outsourcing can cover a lot of ground for you.Unnecessary DebtsTaking loans when starting a business is imperative for your growth and to have enough cash in hand to support your operations. However, there are more ways to fund your business than you might realize. Many small business owners follow venture capitalists and conventional banks when it comes time to fund their businesses. However, crowdfunding has emerged as an amazing funding option for startups and small businesses. The good thing about crowdfunding is that you do not necessarily have to offer equity to the investors in your business. Sometimes, you can just reward them with a sample of your product.Hiring Only Full-time EmployeesIf you own a small business, you might want to consider hiring interns. Interns can benefit your business in many ways. First, you do not have to pay them the salary of a full-time employee. Second, you can ask them to do a lot of the mundane tasks that otherwise affect the productivity of your full-time employees negatively. While it might not be the best practice, in some countries of the world they have free internships as well wherein you do not have to pay your interns. However, that’s not the right thing to do, and you should compensate their work to keep them motivated.ConclusionYou should consider avoiding these expenses if you are a small business owner or about to be one. You can always take advice from those who have their own businesses to figure out what’s necessary and what’s not. Keep yourself up-to-date with new technological advancements. Taking advantage of modern software and hardware solutions can help you save a lot of money. Take the example of a printer with duplex printing option. You could cut your paper costs in half by printing on both sides of the paper. In the end, look into your current setup and operations to see what some expenses are that you can easily live without.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Augmented Reality – Bridging the Gap Between the Real and Virtual Consumer Experience

What is AR?Simply put, Augmented Reality enables superimposition of computer generated data onto our direct experience of reality. It aims to enhance the user’s current awareness of reality by supplementing the real world with 3D virtual objects.The term – Augmented Reality – was originally coined in 1990 by former Boeing researcher Tom Caudell. The technology gradually spread to other platforms such as mobile applications in 2008. New AR mapping and social tools such as Taggar – launched in 2013 – have made AR sociable by creating the ability to share hidden, “mutually” personal images, objects or locations.How does AR Work?AR can be achieved by applying two simple methods:Marker-based systemsThis method uses the physical world as a reference point to overlay graphics. For instance, placing a 2-dimensional printed marker in front of a web camera. The computer then comprehends this instruction to produce an overlapping illusion on-screen as if it were directly on top of the marker in the real world.Markerless systemsThis method involves using a combination of devices including electronic devices, accelerometer, compass and location data – such as the Global Positioning System (GPS) – to determine the position of objects in the physical world. At the same time, it detects the location of the physical world along with its axis.What are the applications of AR?The AR applications market is expected to register exponential growth – from USD 181.3 million in 2011 to USD 5.2 billion by 2017, at a compounded annual growth rate of over 95 per cent.Many industries are already adopting this technology but the most obvious application of AR lies in mobile communications. The combined revenues from paid downloads, post-download items and advertising is expected to climb. Moreover, users who have used AR applications in their smartphone generally have positive feedback for developers such as Google, Apple and Microsoft, to name a few.According to a wearables technology survey conducted in 2015, 52 per cent of businesses reported that AR technology is crucial in the wearable tech field. And it should be noted that 71 per cent of those aged between 16 and 24 prefer ‘wearable technology’ that allows them to carry out their daily activities with relative ease.Prominent examples of various AR applications include:Google GlassGoogle glass – a type of wearable voice-controlled android device – resembles a pair of ‘glasses’. It was first released in United Kingdom in January 2015. It allows users to take hands free pictures, videos as well as send messages. The user is able to see real world surroundings and use the glasses to perform multiple mundane activities such as driving, walking safely on roads and participating in sports as it provides an enhanced sense of the real world.These glasses have built-in Wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity to provide location-based inputs to the users. For instance, a user would be automatically facilitated with flight status information on entering an airport. This device can further be controlled by the user using voice commands as well as the touchpad located on its frame.Surgical proceduresVirtual Interactive Presence or VIPAAR uses an AR system set to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of surgical procedures. The surgical team at the University of Alabama successfully performed the first AR surgery using VIPAAR in collaboration with Google Glass in 2013. The surgical team at the University of Alabama successfully performed the first AR surgery using VIPAAR in collaboration with Google Glass in 2013.VIPAAR is set to become an invaluable tool for teaching residents or helping surgeons learn a new medical procedure. This will be executed through virtual guidance as well as demonstration of the correct positioning of instruments. This platform takes surgery to new heights by enabling a surgeon in one location to be experientially involved in a surgery taking place in another.ArchaeologyFinding new ways to lure visitors to the museum with AR technology is fast becoming a reality. For instance, Stockholm’s Medelhavsmuseet (The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities) collaborated with the Interactive Institute Swedish ICT in 2013 to show a virtual unwrapping of the mummy of the ancient Egyptian priest Neswaiu. A touchscreen monitor uncovers various layers of the mummy in response to the swipe of a finger. The visitors can explore the mummy by turning and twisting the bones in 3D space.Benefits of ARAlthough the use of AR is still in its infancy, it is now being deployed in various industries to enhance and accelerate product design, manufacturing, maintenance as well as commercialization. The industries set to benefit the most from AR include:MilitaryThe Military has already kick-started research in the field of AR technology to ease processes such as training, maintenance as well as the simulation of actual military operations. AR can also contribute to standardization in manufacturing of artillery, so as to reduce costs. For instance, Osterhout Design Group (ODG) – based in San Francisco – have been working to develop smart glasses for the military. These glasses ease military grade workflow such as displaying high-definition video, recording video and laying visuals over the real world.Education and trainingAR is one of the top ten most significant emerging technologies in education. Merging real and virtual objects triggers interest among students, which in turn increases receptivity. The best application of AR technology in education is to augment the content of the books with multimedia elements such as 3D models, animations, videos and webpages. Virtual characters may also be introduced in the AR realm which include teacher-like avatars, guiding characters or even avatars of real teachers. AR is one of the top ten most significant emerging technologies in education.Many educational institutions have already included this technology in their curriculum. For instance, the City University London combined techniques to develop resources through the Creating Augmented Reality in Education (CARE) project for healthcare students in 2013. This included a series of ‘health walks’ which used GPS functionality in conjunction with AR to create awareness amongst students for health risks near their locality.Travel and tourismThis global travel and tourism industry is on a rapid growth curve. In Europe, the travel and tourism industry makes up 1.8 million enterprises and contributes more than 5 per cent of European Gross Domestic Product (GDP). AR technology can unleash more growth in this industry by engaging visitors through interaction. For instance, Tuscany (launched 2013) and Discover Hong Kong City Walks (launched 2014) applications offer visitors an AR-based guide as well as mobile tourist guides to simulate a real experience of being in their country.Retail and marketingWith e-commerce diffusing into various emerging markets worldwide, interaction with physical products remains the only gap in the online sale of products. This is where AR comes into the picture. AR can significantly enhance the traditional methods of retail and marketing activities online. This is achieved by enabling the e-shopper to interact with virtual objects to simulate a bricks-and-mortar shopping experience.For instance, customers can use AR technology to purchase clothes using virtual fitting rooms. Bloomingdale – a renowned brand in apparel retail – successfully tested virtual dressing rooms during New York’s Fashion Week in 2012. Known as Swivel, these fitting rooms use the principles of natural physics on clothing. The 3D garment moves in accordance with the movement of the person, twisting and turning to provide a clear virtual look. It is the closest option to a real fitting experience.Why AR?AR technology is gradually picking up momentum as the technology matures and the applications proliferate. Even though it is a relatively new technology, there are various factors driving its growth:Cost reductionUsing AR technology helps to minimize costs in several ways. For instance, it helps to channelize the manufacturing process, reduce error margins as well as make procedures safer. The money spent in repeat processes is thus avoided.Experiential qualityAR technology is “fresh”, engaging and user-friendly. Adoption of this technology is easy as it makes the user experience more enjoyable. In training and education applications, it increases engagement in learning processes, thus promoting retention. In entertainment applications, it adds a new layer to the user experience, making it more attractive.Risks inherent in ARIn spite of the huge potential, investing in AR technology can prove to be a costly mistake if marketers are not clear about their goals. A few pointers for investors include:Target audienceMarketers should know their target market segment very well. For instance, AR must be targeted at a tech-savvy demographic segment.AlternativesAt times, customers actually want to experience the real product – for example, when buying a car, customers would still want to do a test-drive. AR only provides a virtual experience which further triggers the desire to feel the real deal. One must, wherever the market demands for this, have the physical samples of products and demonstrations ready at hand. AR can never be a perfect substitute for this.Being mindful of gradual integrationUsing AR in business may not yield the desired results in one go. It might take a while to diffuse well among the customers by first attracting early adopters. AR takes some “getting used to.” Moreover, AR has to be strategically integrated and woven into the marketing strategy in order to optimize results. Like all other emerging technologies, using AR in business calls for both skill and patience.Future outlookAR is well placed for a bright future. Already widely used in cell phones and video game systems, AR has taken the mobile user experience to a whole new level. In the coming years, it is set to change the way we access, experience as well share digital information.Furthermore, advancing technologies, growth of content and proliferation of smartphones will bring AR into the mainstream. Cloud computing is potentially a big driver of AR application development.It is time for all product marketers to think about the future applications of AR to add to their total customer experiences.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off