Thursday, January 28, 2010

Proof That Marketing Pays

My friend and my publisher, Peg Silloway, is going to be on the radio this Saturday January 30th beginning at 5:05PM. The live interview is on Talkin Pets Radio

Here's your chance to call in with questions about your cats. Can we keep the board lit up?

Peg is scheduled for the first 30-60 minutes. If there are too many calls, they might have to keep her on longer.

Toll free call in number: 866-606-TALK (866-606-8255)

Website - Listen online:

Via Peg Silloway (The Silloway Press):

The Cat Lover's Book of Days coverI realize I'm preaching to the choir on this one - the concept that it pays to market is not new to the real estate professionals that hang out in the Rain. But I got positive proof just yesterday that letting people know what you do is the first and maybe most important step to building your business.

You probably know by know that I wrote a book - The Cat Lover's Book of Days - and several folks on Active Rain have said nice things about it. (Yes, I'm talking about you, Russel and Jim!) But to meet my definition of success for this book I needed to reach a wider audience, so I chose to work with a PR professional to get the word out. She drew up a list of target media, we prepared a press release, and started to spread the news.

And it worked! In a matter of a couple of weeks we've sent review copies of the book to radio stations, magazines, and websites. Yesterday I got confirmation that I'll be interviewed on a national radio talk show, "Talkin' Pets" with Jon Patch, on this Saturday! It's going to be great fun and I would love it if Rainers called in with questions or comments. Here are the details:

Talkin Pets header

"Talkin' Pets" with Jon Patch - 5:00 p.m. EST - Saturday, January 30, 2010

Toll free call in number: 866-606-TALK (866-606-8255)

Website - you can listen online:

The show runs from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm, and I'm scheduled to be on during the first 1/2 to 1 hour. To find an AM station near you that carries the program, go the website and click on the "Station Info" button on the left.

Please call and say "Hi!" - I'd love to hear the friendly voices of Active Rain. This Saturday. 5:00 p.m. Fun!

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Automated Showings and Automated Follow-up? No Thanks! I Make My Own!

Automated Showings and Automated Follow-up? No Thanks! I Make My Own!

Last weekend I had a really good reminder of why I make my own appointments and do my own follow-up. Here's what happened.

Home Rome agentI made an appointment with the showing desk of a large brokerage for Saturday at 2:00 pm. At the appointed time, we went and spent an hour or so at the property with the buyers and some family members. As we were leaving the seller came home, and the buyers and seller had a very nice conversation about the home, the neighborhood, some repairs that had been made, complimenting the seller on his care of property, and so forth.

On Sunday, the agent called me for feedback, and I requested the Seller Disclosures (which have to be submitted with any offer), and made an appointment directly with the agent for a 4:00 p.m. showing that afternoon.

Later on that same Sunday I got an email from the automated follow-up system asking for feedback on Saturday’s showing. I responded by email with "Please send me disclosures" even though I had already requested them by phone from agent.

In the afternoon we spent a couple hours at the property with the buyers - they brought friends this time - from 4:00 p.m. until it was so dark we had to go into the kitchen for some light. There was lots of discussion: Do we make an offer, what to offer, speaking with a lender, inclusions, settlement date, EMD, inspections etc., all pertinent information to writing an offer. Meanwhile, we were still waiting for disclosures.

Woman at computer confusedThe next morning, Monday, I received an automated confirmation for showing the house on Monday at 4:00 p.m. Nope, the showing already happened on Sunday! Once again I emailed the office and told them I was still waiting for the disclosures and had an offer to present.

House sold Monday at 4:09 p.m. I got a phone call from the agent – the property is sold! The seller signed the contract 20 minutes ago, and "I guess you are at the house now." Um…not really…that was yesterday!

Less than half an hour later at 4:31 p.m. I got an email thanking me for showing at 4:00 today…and saying, "We would appreciate some feedback." Here is the feedback I sent:

"John, as you know I made two appointments, asked for disclosures twice, once from you, showed the property both times on Saturday and Sunday. Was asked by email twice and a call from you, the listing agent, for feedback. Wrote an offer, while still waiting for disclosures, and got a call from you yesterday stating that the property was sold.

Today I am being asked again what our opinion is.

How do you think I should answer? Wonder what the seller's opinion is? There must be a better system!"

Talk about wasted weekend time and not just mine, but the buyers', the buyers' parents', the lender, not to mention the emotional time spent for first time buyers.

Yes, I do, make all my own appointments, and this is a really good example of why I will not trust my clients and my business to an automated system!

Automated Showings and Automated Follow-up? No Thanks! I Make My Own!

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Buyers Bought an UGLY House! Now What?

My Buyers Bought an UGLY House! Now What?

I made a promise but need a lot of help keeping my word.

At a holiday party, I learned that one of the guests was selling a home in an area needed by my buyer. This house was not on the market yet, so I called the agent stating we would like to get in as quickly as possible. An appointment was made for Sunday, the day before this home would hit MLS. So on the way home from the party, I put the address in my GPS and drove by. Oh Noooooooo! Now What?

Ugly House

They wanted charm. Does this look like charm?

So I called my buyers and asked them to take a ride, and do it right now...prior to the showing. Why did I ask that? Because this was one U-G-L-Y house!

When working with buyers, I have them make a wish list of features in a perfect home. In my opinion, this house did NOT meet the kind of property they described..not by a long shot!

They wanted a charming home with a fireplace that they could feel good coming home to. In my opinion, this was not the charming home I envisioned for them. On the surface, this property did not seem like the "right" choice.

They drove by and they commented:

"It is an ugly house with no curb appeal."...and to my surprise they said..." but it can’t hurt to take a look. It is in the right neighborhood."

Having a qualified motivated buyer, it also helps to keep an open mind.

Actually, the inside was near perfect for their needs, minus the charm and the fireplace. It has a complete lower level (room for a playroom, office and a guest area), walk out patio and large family room. Many things met their needs, like the “newish” kitchen, and the cathedral ceiling bringing in lots of light. There are two full baths plus a powder room, the big fenced back yard, gas heat, gas cooking, room to make a guest room and hardwood floors. But it still looked the same on the outside. No landscaping, no curb appeal...even the grass clashed with the house!

After a bit of discussion..." let's make an offer" but not for the asking price. They had work to do to bring up the charm they so yearned for.

Armed with area would you answer this next question?

How much do you take off for UGLY?

We got past that part. A price was agreed, contract ratified, home inspections performed, and our settlement occurred a few weeks ago. They are now in the process of painting, cleaning, refinishing floors and all the many things necessary to move into a new home.

But remember...a promise was made! And here it is:

LandscapingPlantingI promised to help design the outside!

I really did not think we would get a suitable price. Ha! - but we did now I need help make this UGLY house a home these buyers could be proud of…and a house that I wanted to be proud of selling!

So here's the challenge: come up with your best ideas, best designs, best color schemes, and best landscaping. You know what I need. I can make this a contest. Not sure of what to offer as a bribe prize but I bet there are some creative readers, designers, stagers, landscapers out there who could ....

Help me make this UGLY house a pretty house!

Will you help?

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Timber Way..The Perfect Name for a Contemporary Rancher With a Four Car Garage in Sagamore Forest 21136

                                         14 Timber Way HomeRome Realty
My newest listing, located at 14 Timber Way Ct. Reisterstown, MD 21136, is nestled on a wooded 3 1/2 acre lot at the end of a cul de sac.  This is another special home and one of my favorites.

It is a large contemporary ranch with lots of light, high ceilings and shows pride of ownership.  This home has been beautifully maintained by the original owners and is a pleasure to show. Arriving at the private driveway, enter through the double door garage where there is room to park FOUR cars inside. Lots of space for guest parking. The front is a nature lover's dream..lots of trees,waterfall and a pond. Two entrances, one into the foyer..Making an Entrance..Does it Say "Come In" ?  
                          14 Timber Way Ct HomeRome Realty
          14 Timber Way Ct HomeRome Realty14 Timber Way Ct HomeRome Realty

The living room and family room are divided by a state of the art gas fireplace. With the touch of a switch you have romance and warmth in each area.                                                                                

                     14 Timber Way HomeRome Realty   14 Timber Way HomeRome Realty
Notice the gleaming hardwood floors, the 10 foot ceilings, lots of windows, crown molding and recessed lighting.
                 14 Timber Way HomeRome Realty

A fireplace and lots of light bright windows to watch the changing seasons.                               
                                      14 Timber Way HomeRome Realty

14 Timber Way HomeRome Realty 14 Timber Way HomeRome Realty
Kitchen is oh so spacious with its own entry door, a breakfast room, and separate area that would make a delightful home office. Again notice the wood ceilings, wood floors,  stainless appliances and an abundance of storage.
14 Timber Way HomeRome Realty    14 Timber Way HomeRome Realty
There are 3 bedrooms, enclosed sunroom, office, an inlaw/guest suite with separate entrance, foyer and bath for family or out of town company all on the first floor. The huge lower level is finished with a media room, 2 bedrooms and bath. Tremendous storage and space for even more rooms. French doors to patio. This property has public water and clean warm gas heat!

When would you like to tour this Contemporary Rancher on  Wooded Acreage with a Four Car Garage?
 14 Timber Way 21136
Timber Way..The Perfect Name for a Contemporary  Rancher With a Four Car Garage in Sagamore Foreste II

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Monday, January 04, 2010

Al Capone Cooked on This Stove in Baltimore...Really!

Al CaponeWhen you hear "Al Capone" if you're like most people you think "St. Valentine's Day Massacre" or maybe "mobster" or "Scarface." You probably don't think "Baltimore"…yet Capone did live here twice during his criminal career.

Gangster carAs a young man he married Mae Coughlin and had a son, Albert Francis Capone. In a short-lived attempt to get away from his gangster life in Chicago, Capone moved his family to Baltimore and became the bookkeeper at a construction firm. Before long, though, one of his crime mentors offered him a job managing brothels, and Capone moved back to Chicago.

Capone made hundreds of millions of dollars on alcohol and prostitution during Prohibition, but was never convicted of any of the many crimes he committed. When he was finally sent to prison in 1932 it was because of simple tax evasion. At first he was able to bribe guards for special treatment, but a move to Alcatraz where he was cut off from his friends and power put an end to his reign. Capone slowly deteriorated and was diagnosed with dementia.

Back in Baltimore again, he spent several years in the Baltimore State Mental Institution before his release in 1945; he died two years later.

Capone StoveDuring those last years, there was a time when Capone lived at a home on Pimlico Rd. with Maishe Katz. Mr. Katz was his personal bodyguard while waiting to be called as a witness. Capone had purchased his own kitchen equipment..according to my seller at 6211 Park Heights Avenue

My seller's family thought having the stove was a good conversation starter and purchased it many years ago. Happens to be in good condition since it was only used for a few short months.

Capone was a larger-than-life figure, and his connection, even though small, is an interesting bit of history that adds to the attraction of this amazing property.

Baltimore City's Million Dollar Mansion...6211 Park Heights Ave 21215 Make Me an Offer!

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