So many families around the country are facing choices about the start of the school year, whether that means in-person learning, distance learning, or a hybrid solution. These decisions often mean deciding how to create a space at home that fosters focus and education. This will look different for each family, as it depends on how many children you have and their ages (from pre-K to university!), whether parents are also working remotely, as well as the indoor and outdoor space you have available at home. The following tips may help spark an idea that works for your family!
The classroom doesn’t just have to exist within the home! Your outdoor space, whether it is a balcony, a yard, or a nearby park, provides an essential change of scenery for a school day. An outdoor quiet reading spot, a scavenger hunt walk, or a mid-day recess may entice students of any age.
Picking a spot! Some children may have a desk in their bedroom and can work independently. But that is often not the case. Choosing one set location in your home for classes and homework can help the whole family adjust to this new routine. Some things to keep in mind are choosing a spot that adults can easily keep an eye on, as well as a spot that has limited distractions.
Reducing distractions! Once you have the best spot chosen for your family, try to set expectations that it is a device free (or reduced) zone. Obviously, this does not apply to computers or tablets that are needed to attend classes. But cell phones, hand held gaming devices, or TVs can all be extremely distracting. Even pets and other family members can be distractions, so try putting together a family game plan now to deal with these distractions!
Sharing is not just for your pre-K children to learn! Sharing workspace between multiple children and adults can take planning and patience. Try to be courteous of noise levels, let others know when you have a video meeting or class, and use earbuds or noise cancelling headphones for some peace and quiet if needed.
Students are used to having a daily schedule, no matter what education level they are. Mimicking this routine at home will be crucial to everyone's success. Wether its setting up a weekly family calendar for classes, assignments and meetings, or just monitoring time spent on activities each day, sticking to a routine will help students who are distance learning (or in a hybrid back to school plan). Make sure to schedule in times for naps, lunch, 'recess', and relaxation breaks for a balanced day.
This school year is bound to look different for all families. Try to have a plan, but also know that you will have to be flexible with each other at times. It may take some time to work out what is best for your family. And, if you find that you simply do not have enough space, and looking for a new home is in your budget, know that a Norcom Loan Originator is available to help you! Call to discuss your financing options, and get pre-approved. This will give you a leg up when putting in an offer on the perfect home in today’s competitive market!
So many of us are learning that video meetings, presentations, and interviews are becoming a regular fixture in our work schedules. There are simple changes we can all make to be more productive and professional during video meetings, from avoiding background distractions to finding our best light. The most important step though is to treat a video meeting as closely as possible as you would a meeting in person. Keep reading for our top ten tips for video meetings!
1. Lighting is key
Natural light is ideal, if you can, sit with a window in front of you. If the window is behind you, you will appear on the call to be in a dark or shadowed room. If its evening, poor weather, or you don’t have access to natural light, try to have artificial light sources that illuminate you from the front. This is more flattering than direct overhead lighting.
2. Know how to share your screen
Make sure to have what you’re trying to present queued up and ready to go before the meeting starts. This way, you can jump into the PowerPoint presentation, Excel spreadsheet, or web document immediately when you click the screen share button.
3. Know how to mute/unmute yourself
There are often keyboard shortcuts, such as clicking the space bar, to switch between a muted or unmuted mic, depending on the video platform you are using. Additionally, if you’re the meeting host, know how to mute everyone upon entering the meeting. This can help if you are presenting a webinar and do not want any interruptions.
4. Distracting background?
Think about what is visible in your background. Is it a cluttered room that could be visually distracting or a common area of the house with people walking through? Is it full of windows behind you, that will illuminate the background thus putting your face in a shadow? All of these elements are important to check before your video meeting.
5. Background noise
Think of the background as not just what could be visually distracting, but also the audible distractions. Do you have children, pets, electronics, or other sources of noise that could be potentially distracting? Try to move to a quiet area so others in the video meeting can easily hear you when you speak.
6. Living with others
If you are living with others who are also working, studying, or playing at home, let everyone know in the morning about your day’s meeting schedule. If they know you will be on a video call from noon to 1 pm, there will be fewer unexpected interruptions. If you have smaller children, see if you can plan meetings around nap time or independent play time.
Remember that if you are on a video call for work, dress as if you are AT WORK! No PJs, giving the illusion that you are barely awake and available to work. There are plenty of comfortable and professional outfit options.
8. Be attentive and engaged during the call
As tempting as it is, try not to do any other work, send emails, scroll through your phone or eat during a video meeting. Try to look into the camera when you talk. When you’re not talking, make sure to pay attention to whoever’s speaking or sharing their screen and that you’re looking at any materials you may need to reference.
9. Stay organized
Are you in charge of the meeting? Email an agenda beforehand. It is tempting to start video meetings with some chit chat, but most participants will appreciate getting to the topics on the agenda quickly. If you are looking for participation and collaboration, make sure everyone has a chance to speak. After a meeting, send a summary of what was discussed, action items for team members to work on, and schedule the follow up video meeting.
10. Join a couple minutes early.
Treat a video meeting online just as you would treat a meeting in the office. Show up a couple minutes early to be prepared, have your notes ready, check your internet connection, check that your mic and camera are working and muted, etc. This means you will be ready as soon as the meeting begins!
During this time of social distancing, it is crucial that our employees, borrowers, and industry peers such as realtors and attorneys stay safe, while we continue to provide the seamless lending experience that we have worked hard to put in place. Norcom has the technology to help you with your mortgage process, while safely in your current residence.
First is the Norcom Mortgage Easy Street App. This app allows our borrowers to view their basic loan, closing, and payment information, 24/7 in the app. Borrowers are also able to simply and securely upload their documents, without the need of a fax machine or scanner. We will keep borrowers updated on the status of your mortgage, as it moves through the process, with app push notifications. This app is also a great tool for realtors, as it provides easy to use mortgage calculators, automatic notifications, and easy to access contact information.
We also are able to offer Day 1 Certainty to our borrowers. This means, borrowers can allow Norcom to collect data directly from their financial institution. This eliminates the need for paper statements, which would have to be collected and delivered. This process also allows us to obtain tax return information directly from the IRS, removing the need for tax returns.
Lastly, we are able to offer our borrowers and closing attorneys our electronic closing platform, dubbed Swift Sign. This digital solution streamlines the closing process, saving both time and paper, and significantly reduces time spent at the closing table in an attorney’s office. Mike Dimech, SVP Operations Manager, stated, “Norcom Mortgage is excited and proud to be the first CT-based lender to offer electronic closings to our customers. By maintaining a true, 100% digital loan process, our borrowers will see drastic improvements over the traditional paper mortgage process while Norcom will further develop our internal efficiencies.”
We want to reassure those looking to purchase or refinance their home that we are still here to help. Please reach out to a Norcom loan officer via phone or email. We are happy to help you, and are confident that we can deliver a great mortgage experience through our online platforms.
With the Holidays approaching and the new decade right around the corner, it’s challenging not to get wrapped up in the stress this time of year can bring. Between the constant traffic, bad weather, and eager shoppers, one can feel as though they're struggling to find time to even think! However, the traffic means we have many places to be. The bad weather reminds us we have a warm bed waiting at home. The sold out gifts mean we have people to give them to. For many people, this is not the case.
This time of year leaves many feeling lonely, and your small acts of kindness can go further than you think. Here’s a list of 10 small acts of kindness you can do to make someone’s day that much better:
- Leave nonperishable snacks & drinks for delivery workers
- Bring in donuts, bagels, or coffee for your co workers
- Donate foods, drinks, and paper goods to a local food bank
- Pay for someone’s coffee at the drivethrough or behind you in line
- Bake cookies for your Fire Departmant, Police Department, and EMTs
- Donate pet supplies to the local animal shelter
- Help someone carry out their groceries
- Leave money taped on a vending machine
- Volunteer serving at the local soup kitchen
- Leave a generous tip to a server
This festive time of year, we can be focused on seeing family members we don’t always get to see, giving gifts to our loved ones, and spending time with the people we cherish most. Through small acts of kindness, you can help make someone else’s most stressful time of year, their most wonderful.
On Tuesday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced that the conforming loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will rise to over $510,000 in 2020. This is up from the 2019 level of $484,350.
Data from FHFA shows that home prices increased on average from 2018 to 2019 by 5.38%. Therefore, the conforming loan limits for 2020 will increase by the same percentage.
This change will effect most of the United States, with a few exceptions. To see a map of the 2020 conforming loan limits, click here.
For more information on these changes, click here.