Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Choosing a Holiday Wreath - Bringing Warmth to the Season

Fresh Cut Christmas Wreaths Bring the Holiday Season Home

If you have been out shopping lately, you probably realize that many stores are filled with cloned Christmas d├ęcor that barely resembles the crafted ornaments they were meant to imitate. Few products look less natural than big box store wreaths. These plastic renditions of pine and cedar barely reflect any of the beauty and ambiance that you want from a wreath. You don’t have to settle for cookie cutter plastic products this year, instead, go for the natural beauty of a freshly cut wreath or swag.

So how can you find a wreath that reflects your own originality? Choose a wreath made from fresh greenery. The options for a natural wreath are seemingly endless. Whether you choose cedar branches from Oregon or evergreen branches from the eastern United States, a fresh wreath or swag can create a warm holiday welcome for your house guests this year.

Then, take the next step and add personal touches to your natural wreath. Whether you choose sturdy ornaments, ribbon or home spun crafts created by your children, natural wreaths become the perfect platform to allow your creativity to flourish.

So how do you know which materials you want for your one of a kind wreath? Begin by deciding whether you want a broad leaf evergreen or something from the cedar family. You should also decide whether you want to include ornamental grasses or ornamental items like holly on your wreath. Whatever you choose as you foundation materials, look for originality and craftsmanship in cthe construction in addition to the general aesthetic appeal.

When you choose which fresh wreath to purchase, be sure to pinch some of the needles to ensure that the branches are actually fresh cut. If the needles are overly dry or brittle, move on to another wreath. The needles on your wreath should be pliable and supple. Remember, the fresher your wreath, the more likely that it will last through the New Year holiday.

If you want a wreath that really defines the holidays for your family and guests, consider purchasing a fresh wreath with at least some cedar and pine. These lovely branches will produce a magnificent scent that is as welcoming as a warm fire. 

Many people love to put a personal touch to Christmas decorations. Try exploring your landscape and look for any evergreen shrubs or branches that could withstand a gentle trim. In particular, look for broad-leaved evergreens like Oregon Holly Grape, Boxwood, Barberry or Holly. Trim the plants carefully so that your holiday project won’t turn into a spring nightmare.

If you do happen to make a mistake, don’t worry, the friendly folks at John A. Pinto Landscaping can help you get the place looking good again in the spring. Their 38 years of experience in Philadelphia landscaping will offer you the look you have been working to create without breaking the bank.

Go ahead, express yourself through an original Christmas wreath or swag. It will reflect your personality and send a warm and friendly greeting to everyone who visits your home this holiday season.

Monday, November 19, 2012

How to Get Started in Real Estate Blogging

New to Real Estate Blogging? What Do I Write About?

Blogging is not a new term but it may be a new field for you. People often ask, “why would I blog? Who reads these things?” But you might be surprised to know that many websites that you find information often are in the form of a blog. All a blog is really, is relevant and continual information that’s being refreshed and added to constantly. While not everybody is looking for the best way to buy a house or top ways to sell your property, they may be looking for localized information either in the form of reviews of local businesses, events, activities, and area news on parks and recreation. This is where real estate blogging can really skyrocket.

Real estate agents and brokers that are blogging on a regular basis have already covered all of the do’s and don’ts to buying, selling, investing and getting into real estate. What they’re doing now is talking about the local information; news that’s important today, not last year and maybe not next year but what’s important today.

People want to know about local restaurants, ratings and reviews; they want to know about upcoming events and festivals in the area; they want to learn about the prices of those new homes in a subdivision down the street; credit card rates, and they want to be informed as to any breaking news story that might affect them in the real estate market such as new housing laws, mortgage refinance news, or ways they can improve their existing home.

This is where the real estate agent can really shine. While most real estate agents, pretty much all of them, are looking for leads, they also want to be found for a variety of other sources as well. If a real estate agent in your area is only coming up for real estate topics and nothing else, they may not be well-known.

So how do I get started?


The best way is also the easiest way. Find a blogging platform that you like, can learn, and is easily indexed. Google’s own a blogger is a great place to start. If you already have a Google plus account you can simply set up a blogger website and go for it. WordPress is another great blogging platform that you can build and design a complete website around including having your IDX solution provider ready to go for those that want to search for properties while there also reading your blog.

There are several real estate blogging platform specifically designed for Realtors; ActiveRain and RealTown are two of the most popular ones. ActiveRain gets indexed almost immediately so whatever you post out there will get found by Google and you’ll be found almost immediately. Of course, you’ll be found for what they call long-tail searches. If you’re simply writing about Savannah real estate and that’s the title of your blog post then you probably are not going to show up for such a broad term. But if you’re writing a more detailed title on “Short Sale Homes in Savannah Southbridge Neighborhood” then that’s a more specific phrase that may be searched for and found immediately.

If you already have a blog site set up but unsure of how to start it might be easier to start with a simple market report for your area. From here, you can customize different market reports for different communities and neighborhoods. If you specialize in one neighborhood or community over another make sure that you emphasize that neighborhood in several different blog posts not just limiting it to one. Dave Grbich does a great job with that with his San Juan Capistrano blogs. This is the community he spends most of his time in his so he really wants that phrase to be a major keyword for his entire blog.

What Else?


Brenda Jackson with San Angelo real estate specializes in helping investors find the right home, get the right rate of return, and manage their properties. Many of her blogs focus on this type of real estate. Rich and Beth Witt spend their time and training other agents and investing in brokerages and serving their fellow brokers and agents. They have several websites; one for capturing buyers and sellers, one for training agents, and a Long Island real estate blog that covers a variety of local information and general real estate news.

Another way to get started blogging is to simply re-blog someone else’s blog. You have to do this correctly though and there are certain programs that allow for an easy re-blogging feature. You want to make sure that you have the permission to re-blog with a link back or attribution to where the blog originated. Lloyd McKenzie does a great job of this and when he’s stuck on something to write about many times he will simply re-blog an existing blog discussing the pros and cons and adding in his own opinion.

Community Information


Each major city is going to have a variety of subdivisions, suburbs, communities and neighborhoods. If you do live in one of these large areas you have an abundance of information to write about. There’s always a new twist, new information, and a different perspective on the different varieties of neighborhoods, homes, communities, and amenities within a certain area. Bob Sokoler with WeSellLouisville.com has a wonderful community page that he updates with new information and events for different communities within Louisville.

Find phrases and keywords that somebody may actually be searching for. Don Payne does a great job in helping folks find where to live in Columbus Ohio. This is another great type of post for a larger metropolitan area that has many suburbs, communities, outlying neighborhoods and subdivisions

The possibilities and choices for blogs can be endless especially in a larger County. Buyers and those relocating to the area will need to know where the best schools are, how to get around, local utilities and emergency resources. Huntsville real estate professionals, the Amanda Howard Team, has an extensive amount of neighborhood searches, local information, pictures and maps.



Can I blog about listings? Of course you can! You can blog about anything and that’s the best part about blogging. Unless you’re completely defaming someone, stating something that is not true, or doing anything illegal, you can absolutely blog about your opinion, your perspective, and your listings. If you plan on blogging about anyone else’s listing you must get their permission before doing so. But this is a great way to promote your own listings by creating an entire blog post solely around this listing. DenLin Properties always features each of their listings with a dedicated post that they can promote and market for their clients.

Other Points:


Make sure you add images and video when you can. People like to see pictures and images, listen to music or audio files while there reading your content, or view a video as long as it’s not too long and it fits into the topic of the blog post. Most all videos on YouTube are free for the sharing but make sure you view them ahead of time so that you’re not promoting a competitor. Rob Shepherd does a great job in adding visual life into his blog posts about the Florence Oregon Coast. Any images that you do use must either be copyright or royalty free, paid for, or used with attribution and permission from the photographer. It really is not that hard to get their permission. Pictures on Flickr and other Google image sites must be used with attribution and credit after obtaining permission through a quick email to the photographer.

Don't wait; your competition isn't waiting. Get out there and write about your community and you find that you're better at it than you thought.

Some other great resources for real estate:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What is the Difference Between a Realtor® and an Agent?

What is the Difference Between a Realtor® and an Agent?

If you are considering the purchase of a new home, you probably already know you are going to need help. Why? There are few things in life that compare to the impact of buying property. The gains are virtually limitless and unfortunately so are the potential pitfalls. Get it right and you will look back on the experience fondly. Make a mistake and you will likely be paying for it for years to come.

Convinced? I thought so. When it comes to buying a home, the best way forward is with a Realtor. ® You can be sure that they are dedicated professionals who weren’t pushing buttons until the factory closed last week.

These men and women have spent countless hours learning the ins and outs of real estate. They have demonstrated their understanding by passing comprehensive exams and devote themselves to outstanding client service!

Think of it this way, you wouldn’t try to climb a mountain without an expert guide. Realtors® know the territory, the pitfalls and the best ways to make your way forward. When it comes to purchasing property, Realtors® have the wealth of experience and expertise to navigate the trail from the first viewing, the offer, and most importantly, the closing.

Many times, seemingly simple deals can turn complicated. Realtors® take the time to listen to your needs and concerns. They have the skills to resolve most any problem you can encounter during a purchase and will help you determine the best option to get things back on track.

When it comes to buying a home, it is great to know that a Realtor® has your back! The commission Realtors® charge is not significantly different that less qualified agents. In the end, you can rest assured that your Realtor® will stand with you through whatever obstacles you encounter when buying your next home.

Need some great Realtors?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How Do I Know What to Sell My House For?

Finding the Right Price to Sell Your Home

If you are a home owner and think it might be time to sell your property, you probably have more than a few reservations. Nearly everyone has heard horror stories about under water mortgages, foreclosures and other developments stemming from the real estate market’s recent woes. Fortunately, selling a home does not have to be a bad experience! Source: http://www.greaternwrealty.com

How can you be sure to get the right price for your home?  You might not like my answer: hard work! Long before you list your property, you should begin comparing your home to other properties in the neighborhood.

Having said that, it is very important to compare apples to apples. If you have a 2 bedroom bungalow that comes in a just under 1000 square feet, be careful not to compare your property to that two story home on the corner!  Their 3500 square foot home is in a class all its own!  Instead, focus on properties that are within a few hundred square feet of your own. Be sure to factor in age, condition and any other factors that might impact pricing. - See Lloyd McKenzie for Albuquerque Values

Where should you begin? There are a number of great websites on the Internet that can give you a basic idea of home values on comparable properties in your area. BUT, they are comparison values, not necessarily close representations of what your home will bring on today’s competitive market. Use reputable sites like Zillow, Trulia or Realtor.com and chart the price variables from one site to another. Keep track of the increases or decreases in value for at least a month and then progress to step two.

Once you have data you have monitored from sites like Zillow or Trulia, talk to your friends and neighbors to find a real estate agent they trust. You should meet with at least three professionals and ask them for a comparative market analysis or “CMA.”

A CMA is created by comparing the prices of recent propertysales. This is important, because home owners tend to see their property through rose colored glasses. A seasoned professional will look objectively at the market and give you an educated guess as to what price buyers will find attractive for your home.

Compare the values offered by your potential agents, consider how easily you worked with that person and using both your research and theirs; set a price that you believe is reasonable for your property. Your agent can offer you valuable advice about what changes you can affordably make to raise the sale price of your home. 

It can be a daunting experience to set a sale price, but with a wise investment of time and by seeking professional help you can often accurately predict the sale price of a property. The important thing is that you detach your emotional attachment to your home, do your homework and see professional advice. After everything is said and done, it is important to remember, that the market will drive the sale price in the end.

Sources for information are from the local and national real estate providers mentioned in this post. Thank you for their cooperation.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Nanaimo - Waterfront Town, not just a Cookie

Where is Nanaimo BC?

Nanaimo Canada, located on Vancouver Island, about five hours to Seattle Washington and about three to Vancouver across the ferry and the Strait of Georgia. On Vancouver Island, we are about an hour and a half north of Victoria BC. Nestled in among the streets up against the water, Nanaimo is home to about 84,000 residents and offers a stunning landscape and backdrop against the fresh evergreens of the Pacific Northwest.

Maybe you’ve heard of the famous Nanaimo bars; a ridiculously delicious cookie bar named after our famous city which includes a cookie crumb base with vanilla or custard icing topped with melted chocolate. Well, we are much more than simply a cookie; we are an eclectic waterfront town steeped in history and culture. With a mild and Mediterranean climate shielded by the mountains of central Vancouver Island, Nanaimo is home to several boats docks in the Nanaimo Harbour, waterfront shops and restaurants, and several outlying neighborhoods and communities with schools, bus routes, churches and the main campus of the Vancouver Island University.

These communities provide different types of homes and apartments from Upper Lantzville and Pleasant Valley to Hammond Bay and Chase River.  Of course, there are luxury properties anywhere you go in the Nanaimo area but typically home prices are around $400-$500,000 with the buildable lots around $200,000. We still have room to grow and if you’re looking to find a perfect home or to build your dream home overlooking the stunning Straits of Georgia off of Vancouver Island Nanaimo may be your perfect destination. Don’t you think it’s time to find out for yourself is living in Nanaimo is right for you? Contact Lynn Donn at 250-802-7321 or visit her website at Nanaimohomes4sale.com for more information and to check out all the available and current listings in this Waterfront town.