Tag Archives: self isolation

Trapped: Helping separated clients manage unwanted cohabitation during COVID-19

Trapped: Helping separated clients manage unwanted cohabitation during COVID-19

There’s a certain level of connectedness that comes from dealing closely with clients’ finances, their families and their dreams for the future. Because of the proximity to a client’s life and everything that makes it unique and worth securing, it’s only natural for brokers to concern themselves with more than just the bottom line.

When COVID-19 came barrelling toward Canada in March and strict social distancing and stay-at-home orders were put in place, one of the many unforeseen disruptions involved couples in the midst of divorces or separations being forced to shelter in place together.

“Pre-COVID-19, couples that were at crossroads in their relationships, someone would just pick up and go. They could easily find accommodations,” says Nathalie Boutet of Boutet Family Law and Mediation in Toronto. “Right now, with COVID-19, it’s very difficult for people to move out quickly. They don’t know where to go, they don’t know what’s available and you can’t see suites in person.”

The inability to separate has put many couples into complex, sometimes violent situations. In those involving domestic abuse, many victims simply have nowhere else to go. Government shelters are full and most short-term solutions, like Airbnb’s, have been taken off the market.

“People are nervous, and they’re accessing mediation services to try and sort out rules and regulations around their current properties,” Boutet says.

For owners bent on selling, one of the ongoing problems is access to a comprehensive appraisal, which is critical in ensuring the separated parties receive a fair share of the proceeds. Realtors can still access data on comparable properties to determine a home’s value, but few would trust the comps established over the last four weeks. Certified home evaluators can provide a more thorough look at a property’s structure – if they can get inside.

Faced with the prospect of selling into an unpredictable market, the advice most mortgage professionals would give would be “Don’t sell!” But Boutet says there may be more at stake than achieving an above-asking sale price.

“It’s really important to figure out what’s going on in the house. Is there a lot of pressure? Is someone really, really unhappy and you can see it?” she says. “If there are children and it’s really, really tense, there should be ways to put the house up for sale.”

That might involve moving more quickly than most mortgage brokers and real estate agents would prefer. Boutet suggests patch-ups over renovations and says sellers could potentially reach out to staging companies for advice rather than waiting for an in-home consultation that can’t legally occur.

Selling rather than waiting out the pandemic may also help alleviate some of the stress involved with selling a home, which will be particularly high in separated households also reeling from COVID-19 layoffs.

“It’s not just a commercial issue right now,” Boutet says. “It’s also an emotional issue, and an energy issue.”

Mortgage brokers don’t have a legal obligation to step in and try to improve a client’s domestic situation, but Boutet urges them to be observant and sensitive and be willing to refer clients to services they may be in need of, whether it’s moderate mediation or full-on therapy.

“Mortgage people are people persons. They have instincts and they’re super good at picking things up,” she says. “Don’t hesitate to refer out to professionals because there are a lot of services that are running efficiently, even under COVID-19.


Source: Mortgage Broker News – by Clayton Jarvis 08 May 2020

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7 Tips for Using Zoom Videoconferencing With Remote Teams

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Note: This post was updated 3/20/20.

Here are some helpful tips to improve your next video meeting.

If you’ve suddenly found yourself spending a lot more time looking at your colleagues through a Zoom videoconference as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, you’re not alone. If you’re not used to video meetings, it can be a little intimidating at first.

Fortunately, there are best practices that you can use, like keeping yourself on mute and always keeping your camera on (unless you have a good reason otherwise). Both of those go a long way toward fostering a productive and engaging meeting with your remote team.

Here are a few additional tips for getting the most out of your Zoom meetings.

1. Use a Waiting Room

If you have a lot of meetings, especially with a full calendar, there’s always a chance that the person or people in your next meeting will log on a few minutes early, or a meeting might run long. Fortunately, Zoom has a waiting room feature that allows you to have new attendees placed there instead of just appearing in your meeting room.

To do this, log in to your account on Zoom.com, select Preferences, and scroll down to Meeting (advanced), where you can toggle the waiting room on or off.

2. Create Recurring Meetings

If you meet with the same people on a regular basis, you can create a recurring meeting within Zoom, which uses the same settings as well as the same meeting link. This makes it easy to set up a schedule, and since it doesn’t use your personal meeting invitation, you can keep different groups of attendees separate. Simply log in to Zoom, select “Meetings” and select “Schedule a Meeting.” Then click the box for “recurring meeting.”

3. Use Attention Tracking

One of the hardest things when you’re hosting a meeting, especially if you’re sharing your screen, is that it’s hard to see your participants. Naturally, some of those participants are probably working on something else or not giving you their full and undivided attention. If that’s a problem, you can turn on the “Attention Tracking” feature, which will let you know if one of your attendees has moved another window in front of Zoom. This feature is also under the advanced meeting settings.

4. Request Control of Another Desktop

Sometimes helping a co-worker diagnose a problem or work on a project would be so much easier if you could be sitting next to that person. While Zoom hasn’t completely solved that problem, it does allow you to request control of your participant’s desktop. They’ll have to approve the request, but you’ll be able to maneuver their cursor with your own mouse and keyboard, which is especially helpful for demos or technical support.

5. Pay Attention to Your Background

We don’t usually pay much attention to what is behind us until we log on to a meeting and can see ourselves. It’s often then that you realize that it might have been worth paying a little more attention to what everyone else sees. If you don’t have a great option, Zoom has a “virtual background” that you can set within the Zoom app on your laptop.

6. Record Your Meetings

The free version of Zoom allows you to record calls to your computer, which is convenient for meetings and demos especially. The paid version also allows you to save recordings to the cloud, which makes it easy to share with team members later by simply emailing a link.

7. Touch Up Your Appearance

If you want to have a little fun, or if you have a meeting before you had a chance to fully get ready for the day, you can choose the “touch up my appearance” setting. From the Zoom App on your laptop, choose “preferences” and then “video settings,” to add a subtle skin-smoothing effect.

Bonus: Use a Good Pair of Ear Buds or Headphones

Making sure your team can hear you well is important, especially if you’re working somewhere where there might be background noise. The same goes for being able to hear them. I’m a personal fan of the Apple AirPods Pro, but honestly, any paid of wired or wireless headphones will do.

By the way, if you’re new to videoconferencing, Zoom also has a really helpful resource guide dedicated to supporting teams affected by Covid-19. It includes free training as well as a handful of best practices you can use to keep your team connected.

Source: Inc.com –    By Jason AtenTech columnist@jasonaten Published on: Mar 20, 2020
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
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5 Ways My Home Has Calmed Me Down During the Coronavirus

I’m usually pretty calm during a crisis—I’m a New Yorker, after all. I’ve endured everything from the horrors of Sept. 11 to the blackouts of Superstorm Sandy and beyond. But the coronavirus feels even scarier, perhaps because it will last so much longer—and that definitely has me on edge.

Yet as I was folding an enormous basket of laundry the other morning (the piles have exploded since my college-aged girls returned home), I decided to light a pine-scented candle, still on display in my living room since Christmas. And as I breathed in its calming scent, I instantly felt my shoulders relax.

Thymes Frasier fir–scented candle for the win!
Thymes Frasier fir–scented candle for the win!Jennifer Geddes

Yup, one of the unexpected upsides of having to shelter in place is my rediscovery of the joys within my own home—a sentiment that many of my friends and family say they’ve felt, too.

So, in case you need something positive to focus on as you’re holed up at home, here are a few things about home that are making me and my fellow neighbors smile during this bleak hour.

1. Discovering food I totally forgot I had

The deeper you dig, the more you'll find.
The deeper you dig, the more you’ll find.Jennifer Geddes

Since we can no longer pop out to local restaurants and even grocery runs are discouraged, I decided to do a full excavation of my pantry—and was pleasantly surprised by what I found in its depths.

I could probably live for weeks using the forgotten foods in my pantry and deep freezer. I unearthed seven kinds of rice, pork and cabbage dumplings, boxes of bread crumbs, and a few cans of tuna.

Larry Perlstein of Westport, CT, reports discovering parts of his pantry that he hasn’t seen since he moved in to his house 12 years ago. The items included a box of raisins dating to 2015, which he wisely decided not to eat.

“But I also found lots of sprinkles, both rainbow and chocolate, and I’ve read they last forever,” he says. Baking projects are now on deck with his 12-year-old.

Christina Vercelletto of Babylon, NY, has reaped the same sweet rewards at her house.

“I’m baking with my daughter using every neglected box mix we have, plus a bag of coconut and white chocolate chips that we bought in the fall but never used,” she shares.

2. Having time to organize and declutter my house

New York City resident Anne Levy did a colossal cleaning and reorg of her house in order to prepare both of her daughters to learn remotely, and so her school teacher husband could teach from home.

“The place feels lighter—and I feel mentally lighter, too,” she says. Levy gathered nine bags of clothing and textile donations and plans to keep on purging.

One person does not need more than a dozen tablecloths.
One person does not need more than a dozen tablecloths.Jennifer Geddes

Meanwhile, I’ve finally whittled down my linen drawer. My amazing mother-in-law, you see, gives me every tablecloth she’s tired of—and she runs through several a year, which means the two dresser drawers where I store these linens is full to bursting. During this virus crisis, I’ve finally had a chance to tackle this spot and embrace only the tablecloths I truly love—and toss that yellow-and-green tropical number in the middle!

3. Taking long, luxurious baths

A nightly soak is a must during turbulent times.
A nightly soak is a must during turbulent times.Jennifer Geddes

I used to complain about this tub (too big, takes too long to fill, a pain to clean), but I no longer sing that tune. Instead, I’m digging around for bath salts, oils, and other potions to pour in so I can soak my stress away. I’m using it as long as the coronavirus lasts—and maybe longer.

4. Having date nights—in the basement

No movie theater? No problem. We watch shows in the chilly basement with our pup Django.
No movie theater? No problem. We watch shows in the chilly basement with our pup Django.Jennifer Geddes

Stressful days like these were made for streaming mindless movies and TV shows, which I’m suddenly finding pretty enjoyable in my little basement. It’s dark and cold, but we have excellent Wi-Fi and comfy chairs, so I’m ready to embrace regular date nights here with my hubs.

5. Checking off home to-do lists

Working from home has given me pockets of down time, and as a result, my perpetual list of household chores is just about whittled to zero. Burned-out lightbulbs? Replaced! No-slip mats finally laid under dangerous throw rugs? Done. Next up, I’m steeling myself to enter the basement “scary closet” (so named because of the occasional mouse that pops up) to sort through my garden pots that I hope to plant once this crisis is over.

Granted, I will be thrilled once this coronavirus scourge has finally lifted—but until then, I will try to look at the silver lining and relish all the comforts and opportunities that staying at home has to offer.

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