Thursday, December 28, 2006

When Is a Dining Room Not a Dining Room?

That's easy – when there's a grand piano in the middle of it! Not long ago my daughter, Erica, placed a gleaming grand piano where most people would have a dining room table. This makes sense because she's a professional accompanist and needs a piano for her work. But it is different to say the least.

It got me thinking. What else do people do to change a room into a unique expression of the owner? I mean, if you call it a "living room"…what do you do in the rest of the house? I've known people who took a bedroom and turned it into a luxurious walk-in closet. A formal dining room that was never used became a poker room and home to a regular gathering of old friends. Even a living room morphed into a media room with the addition of a massive wall-hung state-of-the-art TV and a comfortable sofa.

And then there are the collectors. One man had a "turtle room" to house his collection of turtles. I've seen rooms and whole basements devoted to trains, dolls, chairs, owls, turtles, giraffes, hippos, butterflies, and dragons. There are Superman, Spiderman, and Elvis collectors with rooms that are more like shrines. Barbie takes over spare bedrooms and turns them into pink palaces.

One family had a room in their Victorian farmhouse that was furnished with tree limbs, high shelves, and cozy beds for their cats – real ones. There was no room for a human to sit, but the "cat room" was heaven for three felines.

There's a grand piano in my daughter's dining room. What have you done with a space in your home that makes it uniquely yours?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

How Do You Handle Turbulence?

You might call them potholes or bumps in the road or detours; I call them turbulence. All those things that can happen between the time you sign a contract to buy or sell a house, and the day the keys change hands at settlement.

So what is turbulence? It might be a contract with contingencies: You agree to sell your house to someone who has to sell their house in order to buy yours. That means your sale is contingent on their sale. What happens if your buyer is not able to sell? Oops – turbulence.

You find a house you love, that you just have to have. At first look you know it's a stretch for you financially, but it's the perfect house. Then you go back and crunch the numbers, adding in all the costs you didn't think about at first – closing costs, moving, new appliances, etc. Uh-oh – that house you love just became unreachable.

Or you are selling your home and have a buyer who looks perfect. They want your home, they offer full price, and sign a contract. Sounds great, but are they qualified, can they get the mortgage they need? If they don't, there's a pot hole for you.

How do you handle these bumps? It's up to me to prepare you for them. My job as your Realtor® is to be honest with you from the start, to let you know that there will be turbulence. When you are prepared and know that we will get past these bumps, you recognize them as normal and move on.

Turbulence bounces you around, but a top professional Realtor will help you get through the rough spots and on to a smooth settlement.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Exceptional Service...Without Exception!

In Boston there is a fantastic lady named Mollie Wasserman. She's written a new book with a snappy title: Ripping the Roof Off Real Estate: It's Not What You Save, It's What You Keep. Mollie also worked with her partner, Paula Bean, to create a new ACRE course (Accredited Consultant in Real Estate) for training real estate agents in working and getting paid for their consulting and expertise.


Not long ago Joeann Fossland, Master Certified Coach and a dynamo herself, interviewed Mollie for the Agent Real Estate Roundup Podcast on December 9. In her introduction, Joeann talks about the different choices an agent has in selecting the market segment they want to specialize in. You can imagine my delight to hear her use me as an example of giving what she calls "Nordstrom service" - personal service that has clients lined up waiting to work with me. I never gave it that name, but that's the idea - people know that working with me means they get exceptional personal service, always.

Whenever Joeann is involved I always learn something, and this Podcast is no exception. Take a few minutes and listen to this terrific interview.

What did you learn today?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Big Daddy's New Toy!

I went out one day to look at some land with a potential seller. Little did I know that looking at building lots could be such a cold and thrilling adventure!

A few years ago I sold "Big Daddy" his 6 bedroom, 5 bath house. It's a wonderful place that he made even better by adding a gorgeous in-ground pool, 3 decks, and finishing a great deal of the basement. Did I mention that this house is 8,000 square feet?

But now he's ready to buy some land and build a new house. Big D has 200 pairs of shoes and lots of toys, and he wants an even bigger house with at least five garages for all his toys. And his 14 grandchildren's toys, too. So when I asked about his NEW toys, he opened the garage and showed me this wild red beauty. And then he kind of dared me to go look at properties on his new toy. His wife said, "It's way too cold, I'm not going on that," but I can't resist that kind of challenge. So he put me in a leather jacket, goggles, and a "brain bucket." (As a former nurse I know the worst accidents involve motorcycles, and I had to have a helmet.) Then off we went on the Trike, riding behind 440 horses in a Corvette engine. Cold….oh, you have no idea how cold 50 degrees can be! It was so windy that his helmet blew off and we had to make a quick stop to retrieve it. Everywhere we went, cars were blowing their horns and everyone waved. This is not a way to travel if you're going incognito!

We looked at some properties, and then when we returned he told me that as soon as we find the right three acre piece of land, he wants me to sell his home.

How far will I go for a listing? Now you know!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Talking Tech with Nelson's Team

What a fabulous morning! We drove to Worchester, MA because the marvelous Nelson Zide invited me to speak about technology at his office. I figured maybe there would be a handful of agents, but I was wrong - the room was packed!

I showed them my tech tools and talked about how using them helps with listings and sales. Of course my tablet PC is part of me now – I don't go anywhere without it. The group was fascinated by how I've customized the "bump" case, another example of finding ways to make your tech tools useful.

I illustrated how an electronic measurer can be a real "Wow!" factor on listings. I took a couple of measurements and then wrote 14’ x 14’ on the tablet screen. Sometimes I have the seller do the measuring; sometimes I hand the tablet to the seller and let them write.

We talked about using a website and advertising for a buyer, as in my Buyers4YourHome page. It started several years ago when I advertised that I needed a home within five miles of the Baltimore Beltway. That covers Baltimore City and a lot of the suburbs; they quickly saw how an ad like that would reach a lot of potential sellers! From that print ad I moved on to the B4YH page that is one of the most visited pages on my site now.

Still on websites, we talked about formatting the individual listing pages so that they are full-color flyers for each property. Sellers never run out of flyers if they have a color printer – they can download and print off their home's details and photos any time. The same thing works for other agents, and potential buyers can print and carry with them all the information when they visit.

There were lots of questions and much fun and laughter. Nelson was a delightful host - he is the absolute BEST marketing person I know. He is always covered with his company ERA logo right down to his shoelaces. You might see him with Red Lobster hat on too, the mark of his mentor group. Nelson is not known to be a high tech person – and I did tease him about that a bit – but he has a wonderful way of selling a whole lot of real estate and getting a whole lot of referrals.

I told the group that had I known there was going to be such a large crowd I would have planned what I was going to say. On the drive to Worchester from Boston I tried to write some notes on the back of a few envelopes but didn't get very far. It wasn't because I couldn't think of anything, but my go-anywhere office was busy!

I think they got the most important message about technology. It's a great tool but the creativity has to come from the real estate professional. I know how to list, I know how to sell. I know how to listen, I know how to negotiate. I know how to meet people, I know how to network, and NO one can show a house better than I can. All the technology in the world will not teach you how to do these things. A computer can show you photos but it cannot "show" a house with the warmth and personality needed to have that buyer already living in the property.

What technology can do is save me time and allow me to have more personal time. And it does all this without me being tied to an office. That's the real advantage of technology today.