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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Little Steps for Saving

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I am a fan of saving money where I can.  I work hard to earn the income I do, and I like to utilize my money as efficiently as possible so I can save to do the things I really want to do!  Aside from increasing how much I earn, which is not always an option, another way to increase my disposable income is to cut costs in other areas.  Whether you are looking to improve your financial situation, or simply free up some money to do more "fun stuff" has a great article, Little Steps: 100 Great Tips For Saving Money For Those Just Getting Started, to help do just that!

This article has a TON of great tips on simple steps to not only help cut back on expenses, but some of the tips will help with home maintenance, and de-cluttering! Take a moment to scan the tips for some quick tips, or read a bit more in depth on the items that are really interesting! Everyone can benefit from saving a little money where possible!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Simple Health Steps making a big Difference!

How to fight the war on obesity is an item that many people have debated.  I have had my own struggles with weight in the past, so I understand how easy it is to become overweight in our society.  Fast food has made unhealthy dining a cheap, convenient alternative to eating right, and technological advancements in personal transportation have reduced the level of physical activity that many of us will undergo. 

This morning, I read an article about a study that was done in New York, which has shown dramatic effects on increasing a preventative health measure that could make a dramatic impact in the health of many people! This incredible advancement making such a huge impact? A simple sign, telling people to burn calories, not electricity, by taking the stairs, conveniently located next to the elevator.  Click the link below to read this interesting article, and find out what an impact taking the stairs can make!

I Saw The Sign … And It Made Me Take The Stairs

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Top 10 Irresistible House Tips!

F.C. Tucker Emge REALTORS®  has teamed up with Terry Haas from HGTV's  Designed to Sell, along with several local vendors, to help 2 lucky homeowners make the necessary changes to get their home SOLD!  Terry came to speak at our company's annual kick-off breakfast, an opportunity that I consider myself extremely fortunate for being able to participate in! Her experience as a home staging expert has helped her develop a list of tips to help Sellers get their homes SOLD, that I think every home owner could find useful if they plan to sell their home, and I would like to share them with you!

A staged home will sell, on average, 17% higher than an unstaged home. (US Housing and Urban Development)
As a seller in today’s real estate market be prepared to have your house sit on the market upwards of 6 months before selling. You are competing against so many homes and some price well below market due to foreclosures and short sales. You have to do everything in your power to stand out to buyers and show them the value of your home. By preparing your house for sale, and make it as desirable as possible you are more likely to not only get an offer but to get more money. You can’t expect your agent to work magic if your house is not in good condition and doesn’t show well. Participate in the sale of your home, you can’t sit back and watch the offers come in like the old days you need to get your hands dirty and contribute. Spend the money now to prepare your home for sale and you will get more money when you sell it.

In controlled tests selling identical homes professionally staged vs. those not staged, the unstaged houses sold in 102 days, the staged houses sold in 45 days! (
The goal is to provide the buyer with the most value when compared to similar homes for sale so that they will want to purchase yours. Visit Open Houses, arrange to preview the other listings in your neighborhood so you know what you are competing against. Is your home “upgraded”? Over “upgraded”? How do the other homes show? Make sure your house shows the best so you get the offer. Buyers will pay a little more for a house that is ‘turn-key’. By being aware of the other homes in the neighborhood you know how to put your best foot forward. Especially if you live in a track neighborhood where the homes are the same, you need to separate yourself and attract positive attention.

Buyers will judge a home in the first 7-10 seconds and whatever emotion is evoked will carry with them the entire showing. Curb appeal is so critical! House numbers must be visible so buyers can find the home. Make the exterior of the home immaculate so that buyers are wowed from the start and want to come inside. With so many homes to choose from if the curb appeal is lacking there is a good chance buyers will keep on driving.

It is estimated that only 10% of home buyers can visualize the potential of a home.
As the seller you need to address and fix major issues that everyone else will notice like stained carpets, chipped paint, a bad odors. Don’t sweep it under the rug, address it and fix it. Don’t be in denial because we guarantee that if the buyer has to fix the issue it will cost you more money. Buyers estimate repairs to be three times the price. You might not want to spend the money now but if you don’t it will cost you more money later. Most buyers can’t see past these major flaws and even though your home may have potential all they see is a house they don’t want to put work into.

Would you be ready for a showing right now? Make sure the house is clean, de-cluttered, neat and tidy. All beds should be made, all mess cleaned up and items stored where they belong. We understand that this is difficult when you are living in your home but you have made the choice to have your house on the market in an effort to sell it and there is a certain amount of responsibility that goes with that. Remember buyers get to be really critical, the media tells them to be because the assumption is that everyone selling right now must be desperate. There is no excuse for mess. Clean it up!

Most buyers are very sensitive to smells. Take care of negative smells. Think “neutralize” but make sure to not go overboard with floral or vanilla scents. We want to appeal to all five senses in a positive way. It is imperative that the house does not have an odor of dirt, must, food, pets, laundry, bleach or anything that will trigger a negative emotion. Would you stay in a hotel room that smelled awful? Probably not, why would you buy a stinky house?

More than 1 out of every 7 people has a pet allergy (Discovery Health)
Pets must be removed from the house for showings and open houses. Arrange for pet sitting or make reservations at the pet hotel. Most people who have pets are uncomfortable around pets that are unknown and a very high percentage of people have pet allergies. Pets are very distracting to potential buyers. Pets can break a deal, this is critical for sellers to grasp. Do the right thing and find a place for your beloved animal while the home is on the market.

Remove all offensive or distracting décor from the home. Buyers that are offended or distracted are not going to consider making an offer. Think of the TV shows that upgrade or redo homes. The color schemes are neutral, the paintings simple and decorations follow the ideal that less is more. You want buyers to concentrate on the home not on the décor. Make the look classic, simple and sophisticated.

Making homes more accessible, with an open flow is the top future trend according to a poll by The National Association of Home Builders
Make sure your home has a natural flow so buyers can move freely through the home. This includes catering to the baby boomer population who need to be able to move easily through the home but also because younger buyers may have a parent living with them. Make sure your home is logical in that people can visualize all the possibilities for their own needs. The living room should not be overcrowded with furniture and the bedrooms will look bigger with less crammed in them. Less is more, make it easy to move around. Staging is not just rearranging furniture. It is knowing what to remove, what to add and how to place items to appeal to a majority of buyer. The more buyers that like the home the higher the percentage of an offer and a sale.

Sellers who spent $500 on staging recovered over 343% of the cost when they sold their home. (
Treat your buyers as guests. Provide water, snacks and/or candy. Leave extra information out regarding the property or the community. Turn on all the lights, open the blinds, make it warm and inviting. The more comfortable you can make buyers in your home the more likely they are to visualize themselves as the owners. Think about how nice it feels when someone spoils you and try to pass along that emotion. This will lead to better negotiations and therefore a better sale.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

January 2012 Market Watch

     We have started a new year and it’s a great time to compare 2011 to 2010.  In our market we sold 9 fewer homes in 2011 compared to 2010 (3999 vs. 3990).  The average price of the homes sold was 2% higher than the previous year.  2011 average sales price was $125,697.  Total sales volume was up 1.8%.  None of these statistics sound very exciting but I am pleased with the direction of the market.  Our market has improved and there are other items that bode well for the future.
     Shadow inventory, as mentioned in previous Market Watches is the total of homes 90 days or more delinquent, homes currently in foreclosure and homes banks already own but that have not yet been listed for sale.  Two years ago this inventory was estimated at 2.4 million homes, nationwide.  The current estimate is that there are about half as many or about 1.2 million homes.  Although 1.2 million is more than anyone wishes, the reduction from the previous year is very positive. A reduction in these foreclosed homes helps price appreciation, and as these homes are liquidated, demand for new home construction increases.  New home construction provides a significant boost to employment which also helps the economy.   Assuming no big hiccups this year, shadow inventory will be back to near normal levels a year from now. 
     Listed inventory levels also improved this past year.  Our average month’s supply of homes averaged 8.71 months for 2011.  2009 and 2010 averaged 9.4 months.  Reduced inventory, both nationally and locally, stabilized, or slightly increasing prices, and exceedingly low interest rates bode well for the future.  I anticipate continued slow improvement to our market in 2012 and more improvement in 2013.
     We have recently enhanced our website.  You can now search for virtually all open houses in one spot and from your smart phone.  You can also sign up for open house alerts and even map your open house schedule all in one convenient spot.
     Best wishes for a prosperous new year and please let me know if I can help you sign up to automatically receive information about open houses or new listings from our website. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Planning for Purchasing

I am currently reading Dave Ramsey's "The Total Money Makeover", in an attempt to help myself keep control over my budget, debt, and overall ability to build wealth for the future.  Dave Ramsey repeats over and over, "If you live like no one else, later you can live like no one else," a mantra that I repeat over and over to remind myself that sacrifices now will lead to higher wealth in the future. 

Making purchases with cash, and altogether avoiding debt, is a practice touted by many who have experienced a "Total Money Makeover", which is best achieved by budgeting your income, and planning out your purchases. posted an article to help guide consumers on the best times of year to buy specific items at the lowest possible costs.  The Best Time to Buy Anything in 2012 is a great guide to helping you plan out large purchases that you may want to make this year.  If you're a Dave Ramsey fan like I am, with a little budgeting and planning, and the use of this guide, you can spend as little cash as possible to make these purchases.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Tips to Gaining Super Customer Service

The holiday season has come and gone, which means several of us will have to endure long lines when exchanging or returning gifts.  Anyone who has endured this process in the past can agree, there are many times when customer service representatives are, shall I say, less than thrilled at the site of another unhappy customer.  Having worked in the service industry since I was 15 years old, I understand the demands that unhappy clients or customers can make, and the stress that it puts on the customer service provider.  Most of us have had an unpleasant experience with a customer service representative that has affected us strongly enough to  either complain or switch providers.   If you would like to learn the tips and tricks to receiving Super Customer Service, read this article, and start receiving greater customer service!

7 secrets to super customer service