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The phrase “minority rights” conjures abhorrent images of Palestinians tortured in Israeli prisons; Aegean Macedonians expelled from Greece or incarcerated on remote islands, there to perish; and Native-Americans confined to wasteland “reservations”, having been decimated for decades. But, the sad truth is that minorities are welcome nowhere and that every single nation harbors embarrassing skeletons in its historical closet.

Consider Norway, by far the least plausible candidate for the role of perpetrators of genocide, physical or cultural. This remote Scandinavian polity has repeatedly won every conceivable prize for upholding and cherishing human rights. Yet, it, too, has a dark chapter that ended only recently.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, many Finns – destitute farmers and fishermen – emigrated from their homeland and from Sweden and settled in the inhospitable northern reaches of Norway. They joined the original inhabitants of that area, Finns known as Sami. The new arrivals came to be known as Kvener (in Norwegian), Kvenee (in their own Finnish dialect), or simply Kven, by everyone else.

Fully one quarter of the population in the north identified themselves as Kven in the census of 1875 – yet, it took their adopted country two centuries (and a parliamentary investigative committee) to recognize them a minority (in 1996) and to accept their right to use their language (in 2005) within the framework of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

Still, this may have been too little, too late. In the intervening period, the word “Kven” has been used as a pejorative by the Kvens’ upstanding “ethnically pure Norwegian” compatriots. Kven and Sami culture and languages were considered backward and inferior (with racist undertones). Across the border, in Sweden, Samis were compulsorily sterilized.

In Norway, the Kven and Sami were re-labeled “The Foreign Nations” (non-Nordic, of Mongol roots) and “The Original Immigrants” (a falsification of history, as the Norwegians were the immigrants, not the Sami).

The mandate of the “Finn Fund”, established in the 19th century by the Norwegian National Assembly, called on it to “civilize” the Kven and the Sami. Even after World War II, as Norway sought to “modernize” itself, Kven and Sami civilizations were cast as outdated and primitive.

Consequently, many Kvens now claim counterfactually to be Norwegians (or merely Norwegian Finns) and consider the Kven language to be a dialect of Finnish.

Inevitably, in a nationalistic backlash, some Kven now insist that they are the aborigines of northern Europe and that once, in the 11th century, they ran an empire that covered most of northern Scandinavia. Groups of opportunistic Swedish Finns support these theories in an attempt to leverage the ILO 169 Convention about the Rights of Indigenous People and apply it to Sweden’s Kvens.

Be that as it may, the truth is that Norway had made it exceedingly difficult for Kvens (and other Finns, such as the Sami people) to obtain citizenship or maintain it and literally impossible to buy real estate – unless they agreed to change their names, give up their language and culture and, later, move away from sensitive border areas (they were considered pro-Russian, then pro-German and, therefore, a security risk). Additionally, lands in the public domain (in truth, owned by the Sami and Kven) were declared to be state property and confiscated without compensation.

This discriminatory policy was known as fornorskningspolitikken (Norwegianization).

Thus, for instance, well into the 1950s, it was forbidden to teach the Sami language in schools (with a few exceptions in the 1930s and 1940s). The very existence of the Sami nation (as a minority) was acknowledged only in 1989, after massive demonstrations in 1979 (ostensibly against the construction of an environmentally-disruptive dam, but actually to air Sami grievances).

Only in the 1990s were some of the wrongs righted: the Sami language was declared a “national treasure” (and a second official language in Norway), a Sami parliament was established, and lands appropriated by the state were returned to the Sami people.

The Kven are envious of the Samis’ achievements. Well into the 1990s, they were still being labeled “immigrants” (and not a minority) by the Norwegian state.

In 1987, they established The Norwegian Kven Organization. Its aims are both political and cultural: the ultimate compilation of a government report about the Kven population; liaising with the Norwegian media; to push for the establishment of a State Secretary for Kven issues; to further the knowledge of the Kven language, from the kindergarten level onwards, using the proceeds of a Kven culture fund and income from museums and culture centers. The Kven also demand bilingual signage and place names.

Yet, only after Norway ratified, in 1999, the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, did it reluctantly alter the Kvens’ status and accept that they are a “national minority”: a collective with a historical presence (longer than 100 years) in a given territory. Now, only Norway and Canada (and maybe Australia) maintain a three-tiered hierarchy of “nations”: indigenous, minority, and immigrants.

Even so, Norway is light years ahead of countries such as Israel and Greece who completely deny the existence of their minorities. Israel had insisted until quite recently that the Palestinian “nation” is an invention and the Greeks refuse to this very day to accept the existence of a Macedonian minority (or any other non-Greeks, for that matter) on Greek soil.

The island of Cozumel is one of the prime cruise destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico, welcoming a significant share of Caribbean cruise tourists to enjoy its traditional Mexican town center and beautiful natural surroundings. Many of these cruise passengers later become interested in buying Cozumel Real Estate, first searching Cozumel MLS listings on the internet, then contacting an agent, exploring their real estate options, and finally return to the island to finalize their Mexico Real Estate purchase. For this reason many of the same aspects that attract cruises to the island later attract foreigners to buy MLS properties on Cozumel.

In 2010, cruise visits to the island have been off to a strong start. During the week of January 4 to 10, Cozumel welcomed 21 cruises, only a couple less than the 23 which arrived the week before, between December 28 and January 3 2010. The following is a breakdown of cruise visits by day.

On Janaury 4, Carnival Liberty arrived in Cozumel, and on the January 5, the cruises Fantasy and Carnival Inspiration arrived, as well as Voyager of the Seas. The sixth of January Cozumel welcomed the Crown Princess, Carnival Legend, and Carnival Imagination. On the seventh Grandeur of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Ecstasy and Carnival Triumph arrived. On the eighth the cruise ships Carnival Valor, Norwegian Spirit, Costa Fortuna, Carnival Conquest, Liberty of the Seas docked on the island, and on Saturday, January 9, Navigator of the Seas, Carnival Inspiration, Fantasy, Columbus and Carnival Destiny were welcomed to the island.

As this list shows us, Cozumel attracts the most prestigious cruises in the area, in addition to attracting large numbers of both ships and visitors. This leads to the question – why do cruise visitors become interested in buying real estate here and making this island their new home? It’s virtually the same reasons that attract the cruises in the first place. Visitors arriving are welcomed by the more traditionally Mexican town center, with its town square decorated by trees, gardens, benches and walkways. Surrounding the town square are many little shops, selling local hand crafts, as well as excellent restaurants and museums. For those that choose to buy real estate on the island, this quaint atmosphere is embellished with many options of activities, such as snorkeling, diving, boating or fishing. Many of the MLS properties on the island are also in close proximity to Cozumel’s beautiful natural settings.

The healthy number of cruise visits to Cozumel shows that the island will not loose its appeal, either for visitors or for residents; and those that buy real estate in Cozumel will also find that leading a relaxing life in a place that balances tradition with nature and convenience also does not loose its appeal. Those who like the sound of this kind of lifestyle should browse through Cozumel’s MLS listings; they’ll definitely find the perfect property for the lifestyle of their dreams.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/3658547

An architectural masterpiece is a building that has been carefully designed by the architect to bring out a particular uniqueness.

Buildings such as the Sydney Opera House constructed between 1957 and 1973 and designed by Architect Jorn Utzon from Denmark are masterpieces that will forever become major landmarks due to their unique designs.

An example in Kenya is the Kenyatta International Conference Centre which has graced the covers of postcards for years since it was constructed.

From Rahimtulla natural stone finishes

The KICC building was designed by Norwegian Architect Karl Henric Nostoric in 1967. The architect was inspired by the traditional African architecture, mainly the hut. The late president Jomo Kenyatta was also instrumental in guiding the architect regarding the African concept.

This brought out a unique Architectural masterpiece which has unanimously won the hearts and eyes of many Kenyans to be the best designed high-rise building in Nairobi.

The use of just one colour and rough texture on the exterior that looks close to the traditional African adobe house increases the aesthetic appeal in that its comfortable to look at-it does not look too ‘busy’ like other high rise buildings that have multi colours and textures on the exterior.

The perfect balance achieved through the shape of the tall structure versus the pyramid also helps in creating the aesthetic appeal.

No other building in Nairobi CDB can hold a candle to KICC.

UNLOCKING VALUE

Buildings that have been designed to be unique usually give better returns to their owners in terms of rents.

Since the buildings are attractive, they will always have a higher demand for rent hence the rent shoots up. Most well-to-do institutions require such buildings which are landmarks in themselves. This helps in their marketing since their customers can easily relate their location hence more business. It in turn works out as a win-win situation between the land lord and the tenants in that the land lord charges a higher rent while the tenants have more customers due to their prestigious and conspicuous physical address.

ENHANCING PROPERTY VALUE

Developers who acquire land in an area that is generally viewed as undesirable can use architectural design to enhance the value of their real estate.

A good example is the Motor World Centre at the Jogoo road/Landhies road roundabout. The area has several unkempt buildings that would not fetch competitive rents in the market place. The Motor World Centre has been uniquely designed to be very attractive therefore its true potential is realized even though its surrounded by the un-maintained buildings.

RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE

Residential buildings designed uniquely always attract more tenants than the ordinary ones. In Kenya, unfortunately, the housing deficit is approximately 100,000 units per year.This means that even poorly designed buildings will attract tenants. In other countries such as South Africa where the housing deficit is not high, its design that sells. The well-designed houses will sell faster than the badly designed ones. Therefore, most developers in these countries usually put a lot of emphasis on design to be able to attract buyers and tenants.

Since buildings last for tens of years, its advisable for a developer to request their architect to come up with a unique design since as time passes by, the housing deficit keeps reducing so there will come a time where the design will be the single most important factor in attracting good rents.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/5877647

I would not give up our house to live in an apartment unless it was one of the luxury apartments for Tampa. My wife had been wanting to move to Florida since we first vacationed in Tampa years ago. She kept working on me to make the move permanent. I have a hard time changing my ways. I admit that. However, I do like the warm weather. I thought I would have a hard time with the hot summers, so we did a test and went on vacation to Florida in July instead of January. I had no problems with the sun or heat. I felt invigorated with all that light. That was the last proof I needed before agreeing for us to go ahead and lease a luxury apartment for a year.Continue reading

The Real Estate Investor

A real estate investor makes money through real estate. An active investor that is good at analyzing real estate market values and trends can become rich. Investors use several different methods to turn a profit in the real estate market. This article discusses the following types of real estate investments: development properties, distress properties, fixer-uppers, long-term investments and rentals.

Development Properties

Real estate investors that specialize in developing properties are often called developers. Developers purchase bare land and build on it. Alternatively, they may purchase land with an existing structure and tear it down to build a new structure, or add more structures to the property. The developer builds on the property and sells the developed property for a profit. A small development can consist of a small plot of land that one house is built on. A large development can consist of an apartment complex, office complex or a retail complex.

Distress Properties

Some real estate investors look for properties that are in threat of foreclosure, are in foreclosure, or have been foreclosed on and are bank owned. These types of properties are called distress properties because the owner of the property is close to losing his home. Investors can often purchase these properties for less than their market value, because the owners are desperate to get out of a property that they cannot afford.

For instance, if the seller purchased a house for $100,000 and has paid off $50,000 of the home loan, he may sell to the investor for $60,000 and lose the majority of the money he have paid into the property. The seller takes the loss to prevent a foreclosure on his credit file. Investors can usually purchase bank-owned properties for a fraction of the market value, because the bank often is just looking to recoup the remaining balance owed on the loan before foreclosure.

Fixer-Uppers

Real estate investors often purchase fixer-upper properties, fix them and sell them for a profit. Fixer-upper properties are usually a quick turnaround investment. The investor purchases the property, quickly has the repairs done, and instantly puts the property back up for sale.

Long-Term Investments

Long-term investments are properties that the investor buys and holds on to for a long time. Investors buy the property when the market is down and sell it when the market is high. Another strategy is to buy a property in an area that has very little development and wait for the area to grow in population. Once the population increases and development starts to increase, the property is worth more money and the investor sells it.

Rentals

Investors usually rent out properties that they are keeping for long-term investments. The rental income helps to pay for the property while it sits. One strategy that many investors use is to sell a house with owner financing. This is a popular strategy in a down market. Say the investor wants to sell a property, but the market is down. The investor offers the property for sell with owner financing. People with poor credit who cannot obtain a conventional loan through a bank will often overpay for a house that is offered for sale with owner financing.

Considered by experts to be one of the safest ways to invest your money, real estate investment can take a variety of creative and potentially profitable forms. The most common way beginners get started in real estate is to buy and rent out a second home as an investment property.

Build up your start-up capital by speaking to your bank about a savings or personal investment plan. Find ways to save your money, keeping in mind that you should have enough to put a 25 percent down payment on your first residential real estate investment.

Take a reputable real estate investment training seminar. As a general rule, bigger is better: trust professionals who offer courses at well-known convention centers or training institutions. In general, it’s also a good rule of thumb to head to your bookstore rather than the Internet if you want to read about real estate investing, as there are many websites that don’t deliver what they promise.

Learn to identify motivated sellers. A motivated seller is a person who, for one reason or another, has to sell her home relatively quickly. Often, you can buy a home for thousands less than its market value from a motivated seller, making what amounts to an instant profit.

Make sure you have enough knowledge to be able to make your own assessment of a house’s structural soundness. If not, bring along someone who does when you go house-hunting, or consider hiring an appraiser if you’re serious about a particular property and want an independent evaluation of its value.

Make a down payment on the home of your choice and rent it out as soon as possible, at as long a term as you can get at a rate that at least covers (if not exceeds) the sum of your monthly mortgage, fees and property taxes.

Build up equity in the home by having your renters pay down the mortgage for you, making sure you keep a cash float fund available for contingency purposes.

Use the equity you’ve built up in your investment property to put a down payment on another house, if you want to build your own mini-real estate empire. You can continue to buy and rent out homes in this manner to whatever degree you consider manageable in your present situation.

Remember that buying, renting out then selling or using a home’s equity for further investing is but one of many real estate investing strategies. You can also flip houses by buying them at below-market rates, having improvements made then selling them at a profit. You can also invest in commercial real estate, such as apartment buildings, mobile home parks, strip malls and other lands that businesses use.

Finding cash, whether your own or from other investors, is the biggest obstacle to developing a real estate investment business. Though new investors have invariably heard about no-money-down deals, buying properties for pennies on the dollar, and walking away from the closing table with cash in pocket, they quickly find out that most of that is hype. Some of it is just plain illegal. In the real estate business, cash is still king.

Prepare a business plan. No serious investor will consider a deal that’s all talk. At the very least, your business plan should cover expected expenses, income and where it will come from, a marketing plan, your business goal and the purpose of your business. Be clear about profit-sharing with investors.

Do a real-estate proforma for particular properties you have in mind to buy. A proforma will include all the income and expenses for a given property. You should know how much rent you can realistically collect; a guess isn’t good enough. Don’t forget to factor in debt service on the mortgage (interest and principle), property tax, insurance, a 5 percent vacancy rate, 5 percent for repairs, and other maintenance expenses. Ask for the current owner’s Schedule C to get much of this information.

This is the document that most investors will want to see first. They will also want to know what your experience is and what you plan to contribute to the deal, as well as what they will get out of it.

Attend local real estate investment clubs. People who attend these are already interested in real estate investments. Have your business plan and your proforma with you. Be prepared to give an honest, energetic and positive pitch.

Ask accountants if you can give them your phone number to pass along to their clients. They won’t give you names, but accountants often have clients who need tax shelters and may be willing to take a chance on a private endeavor. Though the risk may be greater, the potential pay-off is also greater.

Be professional about it and make an appointment and bring a copy of any proforma, supporting documentation and your business plan.

Join the local Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club and other high-profile organizations that attract professionals who often need tax shelters. Be sure to attend their local functions. People who attend those functions are there for professional reasons and want to make connections.

Contact financial planners in the same way that you contact accountants. They are in constant contact with a pool of investors.

Talk to loan officers. Loan officers often know of private investor-lenders who are looking for good opportunities, because investor-lenders sometimes help to make deals viable. You might not qualify for a mortgage on an investment property, but maybe the fellow who has often shown up as a partner on other deals will qualify.

Use word of mouth. Tell people you know about the opportunities and benefits of investing in real estate. Someone may know an interested investor and give you a referral.

How to Assign a Real Estate Contract. Flipping houses has many connotations. Investors buy a property, rehab and renovate and then sell for a tidy profit. This requires a lot of work. There are house finders also known as wholesalers, flippers or bird dogs that find good deals, get the property tied up and under contract, and then find and assign the contract to the actual buyer for a fee. This process is known as assigning a contract, and requires little if any money.

Locate a suitable property. Write an all cash offer to purchase. Once all parties have signed, take it to a title company or escrow company so that they can get it ready to close by doing a title search, ordering a survey and home owner’s association information.

Make an offer. The offer should include the verbage “and or assigns” after you are name as the buyer. You should also retain the right to inspect and reinspect the property prior to closing, giving the seller at least a 30 minute notice before any inspections. This allows you to let other investors come and see the property to make a buying decision.

Get the seller to put a lock box on the door to help facilitate entry if they are not home.

Write in an escape clause in special provisions that will allow you to terminate the contract at no fault if you are unable to find another buyer. An escape clause could be as simple as “the offer is subject to my partner’s approval.”

Find a buyer who wants the home. Have them execute an assignment contract with you, effectively taking over your position to perform on the contract based on the terms and conditions set forth in the contract. An assignment fee will then be collected from the new buyer prior to closing. This fee is typically $1000-$3000, but can be anything that is mutually agreed upon. Also, have the new buyer reimburse you for any earnest money that has been deposited. Hopefully there was none required on the original contract.

Collect the fee. Give a copy of the assignment document to the title company with the buyers contact information. That’s it. You’ve just tied up a property, assigned the contract, and got paid prior to closing.

Although the rules governing a 401k mean that you cannot tap into the funding until retirement, you can still utilize the value of your account for other purposes. If you are planning to invest in real estate and have a healthy 401k, you have the option of utilizing that 401k toward a real estate purchase. Many lenders make it possible for real estate investors to take out a loan against their 401k, using the equity of the retirement account without actually taking money out of it.

Research the rules for your specific 401k. There are restrictions regarding how much you can borrow against your 401k, with most financial institutions placing a maximum of $50,000 on the borrowing. This means that you cannot plan to borrow against whatever cap is placed on your individual 401k.

Research available real estate. Regardless of market conditions, investing in real estate can be a risk. In a tough economy, investing in real estate is an even greater risk, and you will need to prove to your lender that the real estate is a wise option and will see profit in the near future. Most experts advise against any type of long-term investment with a 401k. The goal is to establish the investment, make the profit, and pay off the loan to avoid tying up the retirement account for too long.

Check into a real estate investment trust (REIT). The real estate investment trust provides you with the opportunity to invest in real estate without doing the actual investing: the trust makes the decision about worthwhile real estate investments, taking the burden of making that choice up to you. Because the REIT is considered fairly stable, many lenders are more willing to provide a loan when you plan to utilize the trust.

Research and select a lender. Every lender is different, and some will be more amenable to the idea of utilizing a 401k for real estate investment than others. Keep in mind that your loan will likely come with other stipulations as well. Most important, perhaps, bear in mind that even though you taking out a loan against the value of your retirement account, you will still have to make any required payments based on the money you currently haveā€“not in the retirement account. The 401k simply secures the amount of the loan. Your lender will need to know that you can make payments from the income you have outside the retirement account.