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: