Archive for May, 2011

Technology Has Changed How Realtors Set Showings

Until two years ago, the most common way for a Realtor to set a showing was by picking up the phone and calling the Listing Realtor. This usually turned into a crazy game of phone tag and ultimately a two minute long message left by the Listing Realtor of all the showing instructions and a short plug about why the Buyer should buy their listing.  I was guilty of this myself but it was the custom.

Recently, most of my showing requests come in through a appointment calendar through our MLS called Showing Assist. It allows the Showing Realtor to request an appointment online and then the system emails or texts the Listing Realtor regarding the request. After a confirmation from the Seller, the Listing Realtor can accept the showing and write an additional showing comment such as “don’t let the dog out” or “the lockbox is on the water faucet.”

One of my favorite aspects of Showing Assist is the automatic showing feedback.  The system sends a feedback request to the Showing Realtor with four multiple choices questions asking about the condition, Buyer’s interest, opinion of price and how Buyer/Realtor would rate the property on a scale of 1-5.  There is also a place for additional comments which Realtors are starting to use more. I try to always include some kind of detail as to how the showing went for the Listing Realtor to share with the Seller.

Showing Assist keeps track of the showings and the feedback responses so that Seller reports are easy to compile and share. At a time when feedback has become crucial to marketing and pricing through the process, this technology really helps.

I appreciate being able to do a lot of my correspondence outside of normal business hours. Showing Assist allows me to send my feedback reports and set showings at a time that I would never call. It is waiting on email and not intruding at a late or early hour.

More Realtors are using Showing Assist and it is great to see. If you are a Realtor and are not using it but would like too, talk to your local board about training for this great new tool.

Heather & Alan Davis
http://www.alanandheatherdavis.com
Heather: 405.473.8887
Alan: 405.834.5485

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How To Make Your Home Office “Workable”

If you are looking for ways to not only work from home but to get work done, one important thing to keep in mind is to make your work station “workable” – that is to say, make it ideal for working on your business. A home office must be pleasant enough to make you comfortable, creative enough to inspire you to work and organized to make things flow smoothly.

Though a home office would basically require you to have your computer, chair and table, it needs more than that for you to stay there a long time while still retaining much of your enthusiasm to go on working. Below are the tips on how you can make your work station at home more effective.

  1. Find a viable nook or area in your house.
    Most of the time, people who are working at home would want to work most of their hours in the areas of the house where they would actually spend their time before. For mothers, they would prefer having it near the kitchen so they can easily shift to cooking or food preparations when it calls for it.
  2. Invest on a good chair and table.
    Having a comfortable and ergonomic chair will make things a breeze for you. Since you have to sit down for longer hours, you need to have a soft and convenient chair that works well with your body. A table must be big enough to hold your computer as well as your other work essentials. You do not want to end up having to stand up to getting important papers in cabinets or on other tables because your table cannot hold everything you need.
  3. Make use of your wall
    Storage or having extra space to put your things is important- but for work stations with minimal spaces, this can be impossible. So, why not make use of your wall instead and save your extra space? You can install wall brackets and bulletin boards – or even a creative wall for inspiration. Decorate it with designs that fit your personalities or perhaps something to look at once in a while between working… Like that island picture you know represents the vacation you’re working for!
  4. Two is never a crowd
    If you and your partner are working from home, take advantage of that opportunity by creating an entire room as an office for the two of you. You can have a customized table that is long enough to accommodate two work stations. You can even save space and combined things into a single storage shelf… but word to the wise, makes sure to create a division that separates all your stuff so you won’t have to fight for ‘whose stuff goes where’.
  5. Make use of other home furniture as storage.
    This is more applicable to small work stations. Yes, it will look good to have your own office where everything is perfectly positioned and organized, but let’s be realistic- you cannot help that you have more files than you do space. Therefore, make use of other cabinets that may not be as convenient as you would like, but are files that are referenced less often than your most important ones. This will not only keep you from feeling like you are drowning in a sea of papers, but it will help to keep you organized and the space attractive.

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Running Till You Fall

One big risk with all of us is that these things we pursue are constant-feeling and nonstop, and in the effort to get where we think we need to go, we sometimes run faster and faster, because we sense we’re “almost there.” We run because we know that stumbling requires that we get up and keep running. We run because motion feels much better than inaction.

But sometimes, you’re just running and you don’t count the costs. You aren’t hydrating. You aren’t stopping to be with the people around you. You aren’t looking at the scenery. You lose sight of the little things that are really the big things because the race is such a draw, or the distance is such a draw.

Balance in all things. Running is a series of controlled falls. And if we don’t pay close attention to how what we’re doing fits in with the rest of our life, then we might end up winning the wrong race.

The above blog was provided by Chris Brogan at ChrisBrogan.com

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How to Choose Tile for Your Home

Tile refers to any kind of durable material that can be laid in rows over a surface. While people have interpreted that to mean everything from solid gold to broken seashells, in kitchens and baths it most commonly refers to stone, ceramic, porcelain, and glass. All of these materials are beautiful, strong, and come in a variety of shapes and colors.

So, how do you decide which material, cut, and size is best for your bathroom or kitchen? Like most problems in design, this is an issue of functionality and practicality. However, it can be resolved by answering three questions:

1. Where will this tile be placed?
2. What is your budget?
3. How often will this tile be used?

1. Where will this tile be placed?
Deciding exactly where the tile will be placed will help you narrow down size and material. Are you using this tile for a backsplash? A counter? Floor? Walls? Most commonly, stone, ceramic, and porcelain are used for counters and floors. Glass is mostly used for walls and backsplashes. This shower has a ceramic mosaic floor (which provides a solid grip in an otherwise slippery shower), accented with easy-to-clean rectangular glass tiles.

Glass tiles are a common choice for bathrooms and kitchens today because they’re easily recycled and come in a wide variety of colors and finishes. Mosaic tiles — usually shaped in rectangles, squares, or “pennies” — have become increasingly popular. These glossy mosaic tiles work well on this bathroom floor because they’re easy to clean and provide traction during your post-shower dry down. Remember that a glossy floor tile isn’t the same as a glossy wall tile — before buying, explain to an in-store expert where your tile will be installed. Floor tile has to be safe to walk on, so you want to make sure that the texture and strength of the tile is correct.

A no-slip grip and incredible strength make porcelain a common flooring choice. It’s an extremely durable and water-resistant material that can even be used outside.

Ceramic tile is a good fit in bathrooms or other moisture-rich environments. It’s easy to clean and install, it’s waterproof, sturdy, and is a great value for the price. Designers also like ceramic tile because its surface is ideal for paint or decal ornamentation.

When it comes to durability, natural stone is the crème de la crème. It has a completely natural beauty, and since no two stones are exactly alike, a natural pattern will emerge on tiled floors or walls. Pay attention to maintenance requirements when choosing stone. Some stones need to be sealed, otherwise they’ll stay porous and can become stained or even crumble. A smooth stone works well for kitchen clean-ups, but a textured stone floor will help prevent slips on a bathroom floor.

Consider shape and size. This is particularly important if you’re planning to install the tile yourself. Larger tiles have a distinctive look and are easier to fit and place than smaller tiles. If you’re using ceramic tile, check that all the edges are straight; this will make grouting much easier. Also make sure that all of your tiles are the same size — the manufacturing process can result in variations up to 1/4 of an inch.

Square and rectangular tiles are also much easier to place than those with an irregular shape. These porcelain tiles with mirror inlays are absolutely stunning — but if this is a look you’re going for, it’s a good idea to call in a professional.

2. What is your budget? There’s a wide range of prices for tile. Some general estimates (not including installation):

• Ceramic tile ranges from $2-$20 per square foot.
• Natural stone ranges from $7-$20 per square foot.
• Glass tile ranges from $7-$30 per square foot.
• Porcelain tile ranges from $3-$25 per square foot.

Ceramic tile is usually less expensive than glass and when glazed is just as easy to clean.

3. How often will this tile be used?

While there’s no set industry standard for tile durability, most tile is classified using PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) ratings, which are:

1: No foot traffic.
2: Light traffic
3: Moderate to light traffic
4: Moderate to heavy traffic
5+: Heavy to extra-heavy traffic

A lot of porcelain tile is classified as a 4 or a 5. This makes it a great choice for a family kitchen.

It’s important to choose a floor tile that can stand up to the daily wear and tear of your household. Scuffs, spilled foods, cleaning supplies, dog scratches, etc. should all be taken into account. Make sure to choose a tile that is specifically formulated for floor use. This natural stone tile shower is a great example, since it has a high COF (coefficient of friction) to keep it from being too slippery. You’ll definitely want to do this when choosing a tile for your bathroom floor. Something with a slight raised pattern or texture will increase friction, even when wet.

If doing an entire stone or porcelain floor isn’t quite your style, consider doing what this family did, and create a kitchen “rug” out of tile. This part of the kitchen floor will probably be used the most by the family, and this tough and long-lasting stone won’t suffer the same damage as hardwood in this area would.

If you’re feeling resigned to a practical, durable tile to protect your kitchen from kids and your golden retriever, take heart. The backsplash is one area where you can get really creative. This is an area that doesn’t take direct traffic, so you can be more free with materials and design ideas. You still want to make sure that your backsplash can still take a few hits — as it’ll still have to withstand splashes of hot water, oil, grease and cleaning materials. These colorful ceramic tiles are a great fit for a backsplash behind a stove: they can withstand the heat and are easy to wipe off. Ceramic is also a great choice for an accented bathroom backsplash …

… as is glass for this beautiful mosaic backsplash. This is a great decorative alternative if you’re not quite ready to commit the money or work to tiling your entire bathroom in mosaic tiles, but still want to get the look.

Happy decorating!

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Real Estate Neighborhood Farming | Grab Your Hoe, Let’s Get Started!

Constantly, we are fielding emails and articles about technology and real estate and all the things we should be doing to promote our listings and ourselves as Realtors. So much of it is beneficial but it’s support to traditional real estate and the practices that have worked for 50 years.  People talk about Back to Basics a lot these days and I find that one of the most important basic principles in real estate is neighborhood farming.

Neighborhood farming is marketing to a particular neighborhood/area to gain a market share of listings.  There are so many good things that come from this practice;

  1. Having several real estate signs in one area creates name recognition.
  2. It can give you the title of neighborhood expert to BuyersSellers and to other Realtors and appraisers who may have a buyer looking in the area and call you to see what you have coming available.
  3. Having a farm area is a better way to manage your time. You can service your listings and not drive across town.
  4. Have a mailing list created that is ready to print and go.
  5. People call you to list their homes without having met you before but they know you are the Realtor for the area.
  6. Open Houses can be an event holding several open at one time and generating more traffic for your Seller, you and the neighborhood!

There are many ways to get started. First you must pick an area and get a plan of how you are going to contact the homeowners/get your name out there. Consistency is key. Content is the next important thing. You should start by doing something at least once a quarter but sometimes every other month is necessary. When you get your first listing, work it as much as possible with an open house, just listed cards, great signage and make that Seller a raving fan. Once you get the house under contract, put a sold sign up immediately.

Most important, farming is creating a small community where you are the expert in the area and people come to you. You must be honest, professional, trustworthy and show results. If you want return business from this group, it is the only way to do it!

We chose our neighborhood as our farming area.  It has been wonderful for us because we get to be involved in the community through volunteering and also sell the homes we love and believe in.  In the three years we have been farming, last year was the year that we captured the market share and January’s postcard that was mailed stated that we were the “Top Selling Realtors” for the area for 2010. Our listing interviews have drastically increased and it’s only getting better.  Now it’s up to us to keep them happy and get the homes sold!

-Heather & Alan Davis
Heather: 405.473.8887
Alan: 405.834.5485
http://www.AlanAndHeatherDavis.com
@AlanHeatherOKC

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Tech Meets Workout

Exercise. For some, it comes easily. Some truly love it. Others need it to stay healthy and others stay as far from it as possible.  The normal reasons people state for not exercising: cost, time, lack of knowledge. I fall into the lack of knowledge category.  I have fear of doing the exercise wrong and ultimately injuring myself. Going to the gym and seeing all the weights in that big room intimidates me. In the past, the answer to that has been to just do cardio and/or hire a trainer.  Hiring a trainer is the best way to get the personal attention and correct advice.

While there is no 100% replacement for a actual trainer, Alan and I stumbled upon the next best thing.  KoKo Fit Club is a franchise out of Boston. Chris Lucas has opened two locations, one in Edmond at 309 S. Bryant and in Nichols Hills at 7316 N. Western.  KoKo is based on a 30 minute workout, 3 days a week.

The entire workout is done on a specially designed universal machine for KoKo.  After an initial strength assessment,  a workout is specialized for you and loaded on a flash drive that you bring to each session. This flash drive has a different workout each day that is played on a monitor connected to your machine. It tells you the exercise, does a video demo of the exercise, chooses the weight, the reps and you are ready to start. As you do the exercise, the monitor gages the pace and accuracy of your performance (think Wii) and at the end, you receive an overall grade. The flash drive backs up each session to a personalized website with your progress and the exercises for the next session.

For us, it is a lifestyle addition that works great with our erratic schedules.  We can stop in, get a 30 minute workout  completed and get back to work. If you decide to go in for a short demo, please mention that you first heard about it here!

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New Tools In The Kitchen | Simplicities

Yes it’s true that we are cooking more than ever but our path to fine cuisine is combined with the constant search for ways to do it in as little time as possible. The microwave is the obvious solution to fast preparation but  the flavor doesn’t always remain as well as traditional cooking. Hence the reason I am not a fan of One Minute Rice and Easy Mac and Cheese (I know this is sacrilege to some of you and I apologize) 😉

Our solution has been the addition of a rice cooker and a dutch oven.

The rice cooker has brought us delicious and perfectly cooked rice and risotto. We enjoy the selection of both at Forward Foods and recently learned that on a shortcut night, we can cook the flavored boxed rice in the cooker. It does take an average of 20 minutes to cook so we turn it on when we walk in the door and 20 minutes later after getting the mail, giving the kitties their treats and changing into comfies, it is ready to serve!

So, here is my segue to the dutch oven. One of our favorite new recipes from the Williams Sonoma website (they have yummy recipes) is the Baked Risotto and Asparagus.  This was out first attempt and it was a great success. The dutch oven has become our best friend in the kitchen. We saute a colorful selection of vegetables in there with a tablespoon or two of yogurt butter, olive oil and some fresh cracked pepper. Top with blue cheese (feta and goat work well too) and bake for 5 minutes. Just one pot to clean.  Yes, you can use it on the cooktop and in the oven. What a dream!  For our non-cooking friends or for our friends who love to cook but are looking for a way to simply, try the dutch oven.  They aren’t new to the kitchen. Dutch ovens date back to the late 17th century but they have seen a rebirth as of late.

 They range in price from $50 at Walmart to $250 at Williams Sonoma or the Le Creuset store. Prices go up from there for larger sizes.

They’re also referred to as one pot cooking and there are many cookbooks for dutch ovens/one pot cooking.

“Genieten” 
-Dutch for enjoy!

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