Is Your Realtor a Bird or a Duck?

Even Ducks Know the Importance of Prospecting | Keeping Current MattersYou can learn so much just by observing nature. A couple years ago, Steve was staying at a fabulous hotel in southern California. He and his wife were having lunch at an outside table at the hotel restaurant. It was impossible not to notice the ducks that gathered around the tables at the restaurant looking for food. The birds would wait for the people to leave and then they would flock to the tables looking for crumbs that were dropped to the floor. There were dozens of birds fighting over the scraps left behind. Every duck did the same thing; except for one.

This duck was different. Instead of waiting for the couples to leave, this duck would wait only until the food was originally delivered. At the moment the staff delivered the food, the duck would race to the table and look up at the people who were about to eat. Surprisingly, every person immediately took something from their plate and fed it to this duck. They fed the duck BEFORE they began to eat.

This duck didn’t settle for scraps and leftovers. He ate the best food off the plate. This duck didn’t fight with dozens of others. He was alone when the customers fed him.

It was truly amazing.

It made us think about the difference in real estate agents. Some will list a house, put it on MLS and hope for the best. Others will represent a buyer by simply checking the MLS to see if a suitable house is available for sale. They are like many agents in the marketplace. They are waiting for something to happen. Just like all those other ducks.

Then there are agents who will take it upon themselves to make something happen. They will diligently search for the buyer of their new listing. They will knock door-to-door looking for the perfect house for their new client who is dreaming of a new home for their family. They are like that special duck. They are not waiting for the leftovers.

Bottom Line

In all of nature, some wait for things to happen and others make things happen. Don’t settle for scraps.

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3 Home Energy-saving Myths Revisited

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Myth 1: Replacing single-pane windows is a good investment.
According to the Energy Star program, replacing old single-pane windows with double-pane, low-E windows will save you money every month. While that’s true, it’s not the entire story. In an average house with 20 or more windows, it could take up to 30 years to recoup the cost. Most people don’t stay in their home that long. 

Money-saving alternative: Storm windows are less expensive, customized to fit over existing single-pane windows and installed by homeowners. Storm windows save energy by creating a second layer of air that reduces drafts and escaping heat. Newer models can be left on year round, as they open and close. 

Myth 2: Exterior caulking is the best way to seal leaks. 
The purpose of exterior caulking is to keep water out, not prevent heat from escaping. Making your house more energy efficient usually requires improvements on the inside. 

Money-saving tip: Underneath the house, the floor joists and sill plates around the foundation are usually poorly insulated. A simple bead of caulk where wood meets foundation can help reap rewards. Elsewhere, however, more is needed. In the attic, blown-in insulation will make a dramatic difference in energy savings (especially in older homes) helping keep hot air inside in winter and outside during summer. 

Myth 3: Closing registers saves energy.
Forced-air heating systems are more efficient with the registers open. And over time, ducting can develop leaks, so closing registers only forces more air out of the leaks. 

Money-saving tip: If you have easy access, patch or replace old ducting with obvious air leaks. Reduce the need for forced-air heat by placing more efficient space heaters in rooms you spend the most time in. 

Small losses of energy can add up, but locating them often takes specialized equipment. That’s why one of the best home improvement investments you can make, both to identify energy loss and get inexpensive and simple solutions to close those gaps, is arranging an energy audit through your utility company. Don’t forget to ask about rebates or incentives when you schedule the appointment! 

Source: The Family Handyman

Why you CAN sell your home in winter!

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If you’re listing your home now, use these ideas to make a great cold-weather impression.

Spring may still be peak home-shopping season, since most families want to move when the kids are out of school. Yet it actually pays to list in the winter, when buyers tend to have more urgency: A study by online brokerage Redfin found that average sellers net more above asking price during the months of December, January, February, and March than they do from June through November, even in cold-weather cities like Boston and Chicago. And homes listed in winter sold faster than those posted in spring.

Should you put your home on the market now? Unless you need to sell (say, you’ve purchased your next home or are relocating for a job), “timing always depends on supply and demand,” says Indianapolis real estate agent Christine Dossman.

To understand your local climate, check the number of days on the market for current and recently sold listings. If most are sitting for more than 60 days, it’s safer to wait until spring, when more buyers will emerge. Yet “if properties are selling quickly, take that as a green light to list,” says real estate broker Peggy Yee of Vienna, Va.

If you do move forward, these strategies will help make your home a hot seller this winter.

Price It Right

The quieter winter market brings special pricing considerations. Unlike in spring, when there are more shoppers—and it may make sense to price low to try to generate a bidding war—you’re less likely to receive multiple offers.

Winter is also a bad time to test the market and list high. If the house doesn’t sell, you may need to drop below market value to nab a buyer before new properties appear in spring and make yours look stale by comparison.

The upshot: Take a conservative approach and price at market value, Yee advises. Check closing prices of comparable properties sold in the past 30 days, then eye current list prices to make sure your home won’t look overpriced.

Schedule a Tune-Up

Winter buyers are particularly attuned to issues related to heating and maintenance. Get your furnace, HVAC, and roof inspected, and make any necessary repairs. Also on your to-do list: Clean the gutters, change air filters, and weather—strip the windows.

Many cold-weather house hunters will also be thinking about heating costs. Consider low-cost upgrades like insulating the attic or installing energy-efficient windows, which can slash utility bills, says Brendon DeSimone, author of Next Generation Real Estate.

Brighten Your Home

Snow and gray skies make for a gloomy first impression. Warm up curb appeal with basic landscaping, and add inexpensive cool-weather plants like holly to invigorate outdoor space. Fix chipped paint, caulk windows, and repair cracked window seals, which can cause condensation that freezes over and creates an eyesore.

Offset the season’s poor natural light by painting your house off-white throughout—it sets a consistent color palette and makes the space feel larger, says Sacramento interior designer Kerrie Kelly.

And create a sense of warmth throughout the home, starting with the living room, where staging can have the greatest impact, according to a National Association of Realtors report. Items like a throw blanket can set the tone since “people are in winter mode,” says Annette DeCicco, a New Jersey regional sales manager at Berkshire Hathaway. Just don’t tie the space to a specific religion or belief, advises Kelly. To stay neutral, use such seasonal touches as stacked wood by the fireplace rather than holiday decorations.

As always, de-clutter and depersonalize. Put away family photographs so that buyers can see themselves living in the home; instead display pictures that show what the property looks like when the temperature is warmer, like the garden in full bloom or the backyard in the summertime. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean buyers can’t appreciate what your home has to offer year-round.

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