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  • 8 in 10 homeowners expect the value of their homes to go up either "a little" (55 percent) or "a lot" (26 percent) in the future.
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    July 28, 2014
    For Realtors: Being Smart Home Savvy

    Technology is a wonderful, wonderful thing. It makes our lives easier (most of the time), and we’ve accomplished things with it that would’ve been impossible a few decades ago. We have all the information known to man in our pockets, available to us with a few taps of our thumb; we can instantly connect with someone on the other side of the world in seconds, heck, we could even fly there in a matter of hours. Touch screens still seem like witchcraft to me. However, until recently, houses have pretty much stayed the same. You’ve got running water and electricity, maybe a security system… but that’s about where the tech ends. But now, houses are catching up. You may have heard of “smart homes”- homes enabled with the technology of smart phones. Basically, it connects all your appliances together and lets you control them with a tap of your phone or tablet. So, how do you market a smart home as a real estate agent or as a seller? The important part is the highlight the benefits of the technology. Check out this post by Graham Wood at Realtor Mag for tips. Be sure to stress features like:

    -Remote access to security cameras

    -Smart temperature control

    -Automated lighting

    Photo Credit: Jon Rawlinson 

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    July 25, 2014
    Friday Fun Video: Patio With Hidden Pool Underneath
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    This is crazy! I definitely need this for my secret lair :)

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    July 24, 2014
    Proper Real Estate Manners

    As with most aspects of social life, in the real estate world, there are plenty of unwritten rules you need to follow. It can be a bit confusing for a newcomer to learn all the etiquette, but a real estate agent can help with it. Now, I am not a fan of the concept of “manners”. I don’t care what fork I eat with, I have no idea what a doily is, I don’t stick out my pinky when I’m drinking something, and sometimes I wipe my hands on my pants instead of a napkin. Ok, maybe I’m a little bit of a slob. But, I also don’t believe in being rude to people. “Manners” also includes saying “please” and “thank you,” holding the door open for people behind you, tipping your server, and giving your chair to an elderly person. It’s about making a good impression, and generally not coming off as a jerk, It’s the same in real estate. If you aren’t aware of the social rules, you can seem rude to a potential buyer or seller. Check out these etiquette tips by Laurie L. Fisher at the Trulia blog:

    Sellers: Have the house in guest condition, leave your home for showings and open houses, no secret surveillance.

    Buyers: Act like a guest, wipe your feet before entering, show up on time, keep children in control at all times, feel free to check out closet space but avoid snooping through drawers, no taking pictures unless you have permission from the seller.

    Photo Credit: Kevin Dooler 

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    July 23, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Balcony Overlooking Tiered Fireplace

    Photo from Houzz

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    July 22, 2014
    Inexpensive Staging Ideas

    Staging can either be the fun part of selling a house, or the most painful one. On one hand, it gives you the chance to transform your space: you can see it in sparkling, showroom quality for maybe the first time. It can be a moment of pride. On the other hand, staging often requires you to move out all of your personal belongings, rearrange everything, and even bring in outside décor. For those who don’t like change, it can be a challenge. However, staging is an effective way to sell your home more quickly. The best part is– it wont cost you a fortune. Most staging is done with finds from around the house. You may spend a few bucks on a can of paint or some decorative throw pillows from the thrift store, but in the end, it’s worth it. Check out this post by Debra Coe at Smart Real Estate Lady for some frugal staging tips:

    -Less is more: decluttering is the biggest key.

    -Deep cleaning after getting rid of clutter

    -Pick a color scheme for each room

    -Highlight the purpose of each room: make sure the table is the main focus of the dining room, etc. Remove all other furniture and distractions

    -Create warmth in your home: use warm color schemes, unlit candles, bust out the fireplace in winter, feature artwork depicting love and family… make the buyer feel at home.

    Photo Credit: Real Estaging 

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    July 21, 2014
    Building Up A Down Payment

    Buying a house can be a difficult process: you have to get your credit in order and determine how much of a monthly mortgage payment you can afford. However, one of the harder parts of the buying process is saving for that down payment. It can be anywhere from 3-10% of your home’s total value– if you looking for a more expensive place, that can be quite a financial chunk. So how do people do it? How do you pay rent at an apartment, buy gas and food, pay other bills…. and still put away a few thousand for a home? It may sound impossible, but it isn’t! You don’t even need to be making a ton of money– all it takes is some careful planning and budgeting. Check out this post by Kay Bell at Bankrate for some helpful tips:

    -Pay off credit card debt first

    -Ladder CDs to boost savings

    -Use government sponsored programs to your advantage

    -Tap Your IRA

    -Use Your 401K

    Some of those have a few drawbacks– here are some tips of my own:

    -Make saving a priority- every time you get extra money, put it towards your down payment.

    -Live below your means for now- to buy your dream house later.

    -Find small ways to increase your income: take more hours at work, pick up a part time job, or sell old stuff on Ebay– and put all the extra cash towards your down payment.

    Photo Credit: Sheila Sund 

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    July 18, 2014
    Friday Fun Video: Moving Organization For Smoother Unpacking

    Some really great tips here!

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    July 17, 2014
    For Renters: Get That Damage Deposit Back!

    I’ll let you all know where I’m at in my life right now: I’m in the process of moving out of my apartment to a new place closer to my job. It’s going well; I don’t have too much to pack up and I don’t mind the cleaning. The only thing I’m dreading is…. paying damages. You see, I have this adorable, amazing, destructive cat named Kevin. He has torn up the carpet, broken the window blinds, and ripped up two pieces of pre-furnished furniture. Yeah. So, I’m definitely not getting my deposit back, and I’ll probably have to pay for more. But I’ve accepted that, because I love my cat. However, even if you don’t have a demon cat that destroys everything in its path, it can still sometimes be difficult to get your deposit back. I don’t mean to sound snarky, but landlords are running a business; they will try to get as much money out of you as possible. If you leave anything dirty, anything broken, or anything behind– you can bet your bonnet that you will be charged. You have to be very meticulous and prepared to get that deposit back. Check out these tips by Jennifer Riner at Zillow:

    -I have taken pictures when doing a walk-through of an apartment. It really has saved me later on when I moved out and the owner claimed I owed money for damage that was already there.

    -The most common damages are usually stains to the carpet and screens. I also try to spot clean any stains on the carpet, so we are not charged.

    -Meet with the landlord on-site during move-in and move-out and get their assessment in writing of any damages they intend to levy. Also, check your local laws carefully to understand your rights.


    Pictured: Not my apartment, but it might as well be :)  

    Photo Credit: US Army Corps Of Engineers 

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    July 16, 2014
    Wordless Wednesday: Just Relaxing By The Pool

    Photo from Pinterest

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    July 15, 2014
    For Realtors: 3 Most Common Mistakes Of New Agents

    Starting out in real estate can be tricky, especially if you’re still learning everything. One of the downsides of a career in real estate is the start up money. In this case, the old saying “You have to spend money to make money,” is absolutely true. Plus, your “salary” isn’t even a salary -it’s all based on commission in a highly competitive field in a constantly fluctuating market. That being said, it’s no wonder that a lot of new agents…don’t make it. But- if you do your research, know what to expect, and stick with it- you can make it in the real estate world. Check out this post by Jim Droz at the House Hunt blog, for things to avoid as a new agent:

    Lack of training and experience: It is one thing to complete and pass your exams, but it’s another to utilize the lessons you learned during class and apply them to real life experiences. 

    Low on funds: According to Inman News, costs can range anywhere from $1,200-$2,000, and that includes MLS, NAR, state association and local association fees, marketing and advertising, business cards and lockboxes, among a list of other business expenses.

    Unrealistic expectations: Real estate shouldn’t be treated as a job, but rather a business

    Photo Credit: Rob Boudon 

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