Make More Money

May 2, 2014
Jeff Brown, MD

Judicious use of the right words can increase a home's selling price by 9%. Plus, before the Affordable Care Act went into effect, Americans had spent 28% more in healthcare costs compared to 3 years prior.

—Now that the real estate market is booming again, there is some pent up demand to sell from folks who delayed selling through the recession downturn. Bennie Walker, an economics professor at Longwood University, has studied the makeup of 16,000 listings and determined how you can increase your selling price (not just asking) by as much as 13.5%.

Specifically, touting property characteristics like granite countertops and wood-burning fireplaces boost the attraction and the selling price. Each feature mentioned is worth about a 1% increase in price and 9.3% in the increased probability of selling, on average. Also, each positive, opinionated word like “beautiful” and “fabulous” boost the selling price by 0.9%. You know, 10 words equal a 9% increase.

However, Walker does caution against overdoing it. Too much puffery can actually hurt the speed and size of the sale.

—Also on the real estate front, Money magazine reports the real estate run up may make it up to 38% cheaper to rent than to buy depending upon where you live. Although, from what I have seen in roughly financially comparable rent-versus-buy situations, the quality of owned homes is higher.

Lastly, the average credit score for an approved mortgage is 755, with 92% opting for higher, fixed-rate loans, Money says.

—As a follow-up to tax season, note that for half of all Americans, their refund check is the biggest check that they will ever receive. To get our 1040s done, it is estimated that 7 billion hours are spent annually by taxpayers and their agents. In spite of the CPA lobby, that’s more than enough reason to overhaul our ridiculously tortuous tax code.

—For those of you still trying to figure out the Affordable Care Act (ACA), CNN reports that in the year before the ACA went into effect, American workers spent 28% more on healthcare costs, premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and self care than they did just 3 years prior. Health costs for employers have also gone up, but only by 14%, as they shift more of the burden to their employees.

—Unpaid, and below minimum wage, business internships are in the news. But all business interns are not so bad off. Twitter, for example, pays $81,000, the equivalent of an annual salary, according to MarketWatch. When I was paid the munificent sum of $5,000 for my medical internship, the older generation of docs was shocked and envious at the indulgence.

—Compare the above information to Michael Jordan making $90 million last year, largely from Nike on his endorsement of their shoes. And Forbes reported there are now 1,645 billionaires in the world, averaging a net worth of some $4.7 billion each. And, in spite of having given at least $30 billion to his charitable foundation, Bill Gates is still at number one with $76 billion. After hearing this, my daughter told me, arms on her hips, “And you had to go into medicine!”

—So, the next time you meekly go off to buy, say shoes, keep in mind the average store marks up its goods by 65%. (Some of that to pay the Jordans of the world…) So be a good, non-billionaire consumer and wait for the sales; preferably, the second round when the margins are the smallest. But don’t worry for him—MJ will still get his cut anyway.

—Finally, while we are on this inequality of income toot, JAMA reported that the average non-profit hospital chief executive officer averages over half a million in salary, plus generous perks. But there is typically no link in his/her compensation to occupancy, profit, mortality rate, or the quality of care delivered in the institution. These last 2 are left to the docs in committees. Which, as we all know, are usually time-consuming, income-robbing and underappreciated.