Category Archives: Tips and Advice

Counseling Sellers – Repost

What Is a Seller Counseling Session? 10 Reasons Why You Need One
RISMEDIA, Thursday, October 12, 2017— The following information is provided by the Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD)

A seller counseling session occurs at the beginning of your relationship with a current or prospective seller client and is a strategic activity that helps ensure a high-quality experience for everyone involved.

The consequences of unprepared sellers cannot be overstated. In a recent article from REALTOR® Magazine, agent Ryan Zwicky outlines some lessons learned the hard way, one of which was about setting appropriate expectations from the start. Zwicky says, “I learned that trying to please the seller only harms them in the end. It is better to be completely honest and open from the start.”

A seller counseling session is a powerful expectation-setting tool. It can be a sit-down meeting in person, a virtual web-based teleconference, or even a long phone call—all supplemented with a print resource, to help guide the conversation. The mode of communication that you use for it is not quite as important as your ability to carve out uninterrupted one-on-one time for yourself and the seller to get to know one another a little more deeply, and to go over how everything will work.

There is no one set way to do a seller counseling session, but there are some best practices and resources—home-grown or for-purchase—that can help you plan the conversation beforehand so that you don’t forget any aspect that needs to be discussed. For example, the Real Estate Business Institute (REBI), an affiliate of NAR, offers sets of customizable PowerPoint® presentation templates to help with structuring the conversation. The slides can be reorganized and adapted as needed to your situation. For those that want to take their seller representation skills to an even higher level, REBI also offers its Seller Representative Specialist (SRS) Designation course online at NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Development. It also offers the course for classroom delivery, and a schedule of upcoming courses.

Regardless of the exact structure and the exact resources used, a seller counseling session is an invaluable strategic tool that will help you succeed as a seller’s representative. Below are 10 reasons why.

1. Demonstrate Your Value – The session helps you showcase your service package by giving you the opportunity to highlight and explain your business background, your education qualifications, the extent of your experience, and the value you bring to the process. Your expertise and service orientation will help your client feel at ease and taken care of.

2. Set Expectations – The session will help you set expectations so that in the long run there will be fewer surprises (and therefore fewer delays and less confusion). The client will come to understand their role, your role, and the roles of everyone else along the way. Things will run more smoothly. Smooth transactions lead to more referrals.

3. Get on the Same Page – As confusion and potential misunderstandings are addressed and cleared away up front, the session will help put you and your client on the same team so that you are working together with each other, and not at odds or toward opposing goals.

4. Reduce Risk – Because of this meeting, there will be fewer chances for confusion, missteps, breaches and conflict. Whenever processes are made clearer at the outset, the risk of veering off into antagonistic or dangerous waters is greatly minimized.

5. Explain What You Can and Can’t Do – An important aspect of further reducing risk is addressing what you as the client advocate can and cannot do. By addressing this early, there will be fewer or no client expectations or demands that you do something which is unethical, illegal, uncomfortable or just plain fishy. You can go over how agency works in your state and all of the seller disclosures required. You can also discuss what the REALTOR® Code of Ethics requires of you, your fiduciary duty to your client, and what that looks like in day-to-day practice.

6. Outline the Process – Your client will be a more calm, confident, and cooperative partner once they have a big-picture scheme in their mind about what the entire process will entail. Do this for them in the seller consultation session; give them the big picture, 50,000-foot view. This may be second nature to you, but to them, the entire process may be foreign and disorienting. They may not need as many check-ins along the way, and it will be less likely that they will become upset with you if you have explained the overall process beforehand.

7. Position the Property – Having an in-depth conversation about the property, its current position in the market, what can be done to improve this position, like staging (and what can’t be overcome) will help you down the road when you and your client have to deal with price reductions, price negotiations, concessions, contingencies, multiple offers, deals that fall through and so on.

8. Explain Fees – Understanding the line items of the different services clients are paying for will head off a number of questions, objections and frustrations down the road, especially if things get challenging. Having a talk about fees as connected to the value of what you do to help the property succeed in the marketplace is key.

9. Gather Preferences – The seller counseling session is a great time to gather information to help you understand how your client prefers to communicate and be treated. Do they want a daily or weekly check-in, by phone or text? How would they prefer open houses be handled? What makes them stressed and what puts them at ease? You’ll want to gather this information to help you serve them in the way that works best for them.

10. Provide Resources – The session will provide you the opportunity to share resources that the seller can take home with them, review in detail on their own time, and ask questions about later. The value of takeaways and reading material as time-saving educational tools cannot be underestimated. The seller counseling session helps you present and offer these materials so that the seller knows they exist and understands how to review them.

To learn much more about seller counseling sessions and seller representation overall, please consider checking out the education, benefits, and resources offered by REBI and its SRS Designation. In October, the featured 25% OFF course at the Center for REALTOR® Development is the Seller Representative Specialist (SRS) Designation course, which is the basic requirement toward obtaining this credential. 

Why should anyone have “Buyer Representation” in a real estate transaction?

It wasn’t long ago when state and local associations, and consumer advocates, began examining “buyer agency” in real estate transactions; this lead to adopted legislation which now mandates the disclosure of agency representation to consumers by licensed real estate professionals. The term “agency” is used in real estate to help determine what legal responsibilities your real estate professional owes to you and other parties in a transaction. Buyer Representation, AKA “the buyer’s agent”, allows for purchasers to have their interests represented throughout the course of a home search, and the eventual purchase of a property. We are no longer subject to a system in which agency representation only supports the Seller. Increased demand from consumers, and years of experience from Realtors, has enabled purchasers to enjoy a professional advocate who only works for them and their interests. Why wouldn’t you choose to have this type of assistance when purchasing your next home?

Just a few of the benefits you’ll receive include expert guidance, objective information and opinions, expanded search power, negotiation knowledge, transactional expertise, career experience, and your anchor during emotional moments. Not to mention that your understanding and satisfaction with a real estate transaction increases when you have your own representation. In most instances it costs you as the buyer very little to have representation, and will very likely save you money and anxiety along the way.

Talk to a buyer’s agent about assisting you with your next real estate transaction, and find out in detail the benefits of receiving the personal representation that years of experience has made available to you. The conversation is free; the knowledge you’ll gain from it is priceless!

Architecture and Real Estate – a blend that works for our Clients

Ideas we develop for our clients needs










Ann and I consider our professional experience in design, construction, and architecture to be a seamless benefit to the clients we help to buy and sell real estate – Real Property.

Many people don’t initially grasp the subtle advantages they receive when working with us, or how our design and architectural expertise within the Richmond real estate business separates us from our competition.

We’ve been involved with residential construction and design since 1986, a licensed Architect since 1995, a licensed Realtor since 2002, and we are both Associate Brokers; these complementary and overlapping disciplines have created for us a unique and specialized knowledge in our field. We share these assets with the people we work. Together with our client-centered approach to business, we deliver the “Service You Deserve & Expect” in your real estate transaction.

We like to ask the question, “What makes a house a home?” The answer is likely to be different for everyone. We help you to explore this subject, as well as the multitude of other considerations we face in real estate sales and service. This is true on both sides of the transaction, weather buying a home or selling a house. It’s important to understand “objections”; we have the ability for one to overcome them by turning them into “opportunities”.

It’s one thing to talk to a knowledgeable sales person about “possibilities” that may exist at a property; it’s quite another experience to discuss practical and achievable solutions, which meet your particular needs, with a qualified and licensed design professional.

A home is more than just a structure, no matter what the style. The essence of architecture is what makes a house so personal. There is a certain feeling that good design embodies – it’s the fundamental ingredient in what makes a house a home – the perceptible difference that you may wish to consider during your next real estate transaction!

Architecture & Real Estate – What Makes a House a Home?

I’m not going to get to the heart of this thought in such a brief article, but many people don’t initially grasp the subtle advantages they receive when asking themselves this question. The answer is likely to be different for everyone. Consulting a good design professional can help you to explore this subject, because it’s an important concept on both sides of the transaction. Design consultants have the ability for one to overcome perceived “objections” by turning them into “opportunities”.

In today’s real estate market, even with lower than normal inventory, it is still critically important to have properties which show at their best. There is no question that homes sell faster, for a higher price, when they look their finest. In addition to design professionals, Realtors are able to compile lists of helpful services and associates that can assist in staging a property, consult on finishes, color selections, materials, and correct any areas that are in need of attention.

A home is more than just a structure, no matter what the style. The essence of architecture is what makes a house so personal. There is a certain feeling that good design embodies. It’s the fundamental ingredient in what makes a house a home – the perceptible difference that you may wish to consider during your next real estate transaction!

architects as real estate agents

I recently came across a 2009 online article by Nigel F. Maynard asking, “Why should architects become real estate agents?” Maynard points out the opportunity for architects to gain access to properties they might not hear about otherwise, and furthermore, supposes that this exposure may lead to additional work as an architect. My experience as a licensed architect as well as a licensed Realtor and associate broker says otherwise; at least within the confines of a small scale business model.

I will confirm that being a licensed architect, with experience in construction going back 30 years, has been a material benefit to my real estate clients for the last fifteen years. There is without a doubt real value to the conversations about the opportunities available to buyers and sellers that I bring to the table wearing these two distinct but overlapping hats; especially when there are challenges surrounding a property. But when it comes to being an architect or a Realtor, a choice has to be made regarding the primary focus of the business – at least if you intend to be successful at one or the other.

I can tell you that both jobs are a full time proposition. There is little in-between that will allow you to succeed at performing the duties of each profession successfully, at least as a small business person. The time it takes to get involved in a building project, or to work with buyers and sellers, are both all encompassing. They each demand your complete attention. Perhaps if one has a business which supports a staff, where tasks and responsibilities may be delegated, it might be a more viable option to do both jobs at once. I don’t think it is realistic to do this within the confines of a small or single proprietor business model.

Early in my real estate career – as an independent single contractor, as most Realtors are – before I began to develop a team model, sometimes when my sales business slowed I would attempt to pick up a bit of design work to compensate for the down-time in RE sales. It seemed, just as I got into the depths of that project the phone would start ringing, and my attention needed to be redirected back to real estate. Since, at this stage in my career, real estate was my primary focus, the design work would become a nuisance rather than a benefit. I found it exceedingly difficult to give adequate attention to each discipline in order to satisfy the demands of both practices.

I have now found new ways to incorporate both real estate and architecture into our current business model, but this business is real estate driven. My point is this – in contrast to Maynard’s suggestion that being a licensed Realtor will support and benefit your real estate business, or vice versa, I think that if you plan on being a successful architect, then let that business speak for itself. I did a business plan for both approaches and decided to pursue real estate in lieu of architecture. Yes, my being an architect does support and benefit being a Realtor; however, it is the attention and detail that I put in to being a Realtor that ensures my success in this business.

It will be the same thing if you plan to hang your shingle as a licensed architect. Your eventual success in that field will build on itself – if you pardon the pun. You can then find a Realtor who you can get close to, who wants to support your business, and be the eyes and ears of your real estate pursuits. I do not believe that one should count on building an architectural career by becoming a licensed Realtor.

Bathroom Design Ideas


7 Brilliant Bathroom Design Ideas
By Craig Middleton
RISMEDIA, Thursday, October 06, 2016— The bathroom, along with the kitchen, is the most frequently used room in many homes and the basic necessities – bathtub, toilet, sink, medicine cabinet and shower – determine how most of the space will be used. Bathrooms also require room for stashing towels, paper products, grooming appliances, soaps and shampoos, so maximizing storage is crucial in a well-appointed and well-planned bathroom. Much activity goes on in this small space and the design and decoration should emphasize function, comfort and style equally.

Utilize Extra Space
Use the space between wall studs to make shallow storage for small items such as bars of soap and nail polish bottles. Cut away the dry wall between two studs and install narrow shelves that are just the depth of the stud, usually about four inches. Possible finishes for the opening include paint, tile board, mirror tiles or wallpaper designed for bathrooms. Leave the space open or hang a door; indoor shutters work well in this application.

Bathroom Color
Buying and installing bathroom fixtures represents major commitments of money, time and labor. Keep permanent features such as the tub, sink and tile neutral in tone. Classic white is always popular, easy to find, and provides a versatile background for any decorating scheme. Inject color and style into the room with paint or wallpaper, linens and accessories that are easy and inexpensive to redo when a change is desired.

Drying Accessories
If you have swimmers or beach-goers in the family, a place to hang wet bathing suits and towels is a must. Look for hooks or retractable clotheslines that can be installed in a shower or tub enclosure to keep water and sand off floors and furniture.

Lighting Fixtures
Adequate light is needed in a bathroom where grooming tasks such as shaving, hair styling or applying makeup take place. Many bathrooms do not have windows, which means artificial lighting is even more crucial. One fixture over the vanity is not sufficient. Install decorative sconces on both sides of each mirror and add recessed or surface-mounted lighting fixtures in the ceiling, being sure to follow building code regulations.

Shower Designs
Shower designs should meet the needs of all family members. A built-in bench in a shower is a good choice for small children, the elderly or anyone with limited mobility. A detachable shower head brings the water to the bather. It has the further advantage of making the shower stall much easier to clean, as the water can be directed into corners to rinse away grime, soap residue and cleaning products.

Heated Towel Racks
For a real touch of luxury, especially in colder climates, install heated towel racks. They are available in many sizes and styles and not only supply toasty towels but will also help to warm the air in the bathroom. Towel warmers can be plugged into a nearby outlet or hardwired into the bathroom’s existing electrical system.

Pocket Door
For a very small bathroom with limited wall space for swinging doors, consider a pocket door that slides neatly between walls. They are available in styles and finishes that will complement any décor and are easy to install. It is even possible to mount a full-length mirror panel on the pocket door, solving two problems at once.

Because the bathroom is a relatively small and mostly utilitarian space, it can be overlooked when remodeling, redecorating or in a new build. However, this is not the place to pinch pennies. A comfortable, functional and attractive bath makes a home more livable and increases resale value if the home is placed on the market. Plan carefully and shop wisely to create an appealing, usable space for your family and guests without going over budget.

This post was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for top real estate tips and trends.

Discover Key Ingredients to a Happy, Healthy Marriage. Join us March 24!

Passion & Purpose For Marriage

What’s the most important word in a marriage? What is really going on in your wife’s head? What do you wish your husband knew about you? Discover key ingredients to a healthy and happy marriage at the Passion & Purpose for Marriage event. Take your relationship to a whole new level.

Regardless of any religious affiliation, we trust this event will speak to anyone in a married relationship, and hope you will join Ann and John at this event in March.


Increase Your Home’s Value with a Fresh Coat of Paint

One of our top three suggestions for improving value when it’s time to sell a house.

Increase Your Home’s Value with a Fresh Coat of Paint
RISMEDIA, Tuesday, September 27, 2016— Getting ready to sell your house or condo? One of the easiest home improvements to get buyers’ attention is a fresh coat of paint. Plus it’s a cost-effective fix that will make your home look updated—which can translate to increased value. Sara McLean, color expert and blogger for Dunn-Edwards Paints, offers tips on how to choose interior colors that appeal to most people.

  • First, she cautions on painting everything white or beige, because your home might end up looking more like an apartment, rather than upscale.
  • Stick to earth tones and nature-based colors. Warm browns and milky tans—think latte. Light greens and blues are classy, and even some reds and oranges.  Warm grays are popular now, rather than cool grays.
  • Take the flooring into consideration and lay your color chips on the floor to see how they pair.  Warm tones tend to look better with most hardwood, whereas tile, terrazzo or carpet may dictate other colors.
  • While neutrals are safe, don’t make the entire home so neutral that it’s boring. An occasional accent wall in a darker or complementary shade adds a designer look.
  • Give a room life without being personal. Many people have a visceral reaction to bold colors and buyers’ first thought is that they will need to repaint.
  • Kitchens and baths work well with a little more color to brighten up and make them fresh, clean and inviting.
  • In the kitchen, soft buttery yellows with slight brown undertones are popular, happy colors. Olive and sage greens make it feel garden-y and fresh. If you don’t have a tile backsplash, create one with an eggshell or semi-gloss paint—either a solid color or with a decorative stencil.
  • Baths, laundry rooms and powders can incorporate brighter colors because they’re smaller—play with color a little bit. Oranges and reds are trending now and through next year, as well as teal and turquoise.

“Once you have chosen a color, pick up a few samples and paint a section of the wall near permanent structures like fireplaces, flooring and cabinetry,” McLean recommends. “Live with the samples at least a full a day to see them in all light sources. What looks light and bright in the morning, may look dungeon-y at night.”

Next step, she advises, is to choose the gloss level. Flat, velvet or eggshell are­ good for interior walls, while a higher sheen looks pretty on trim and in kitchens and bathrooms. The higher gloss levels are easier to clean, so they are ideal for high traffic areas. Look for trim paint that is water-based but with the upscale look of oil-based.


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5 Dirt Cheap Home Staging Ideas

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5 Dirt Cheap Home Staging Ideas
By Melissa Neiman
RISMEDIA, Friday, September 23, 2016— (TNS)—We all want to make our houses look like they are “Designed to Sell”-worthy. But hiring a professional stager to prepare the home for prospective buyers can cost anywhere from $50 to $150 per hour, according to Jessica Page, a REALTOR® near Denver.

Fortunately, homeowners can take matters into their own hands, many times for less than the $2,000 budget of the HGTV show.

Page and veteran Florida REALTOR® Jennifer Radice share expert tips for staging your home that cost next to nothing.

1. Pack Away Personal Items
Packing away personal items is one of the simplest — and cheapest — things you can do to sell your house or condo quickly, according to Page and Radice.

“The reason you want to depersonalize your home is because you want buyers to view it as their potential home,” Page says.

“Pictures are extremely distracting. You cannot believe how long potential buyers will stop and stare at people they do not know in photos,” says Radice, who also recommends removing any religious items from plain view.

In addition to attracting the buyer, “you want the buyer’s agent to enjoy showing the home,” Radice says, because even if this particular buyer isn’t interested, the agent might represent someone who would be a good match.

The cost: $2 to $3 for a roll of packaging tape. You already have the scissors on hand and you can often score the boxes for free from a neighborhood store.

2. Clear Clutter
“This is the hardest thing for most people to do because they are emotionally attached to everything in the house,” Page says.

“After years of living in the same home, clutter collects in such a way that may not be evident to the homeowner. However, it does affect the way buyers see the home, even if you do not realize it. Clutter collects on shelves and countertops, and in drawers, closets, garages, attics and basements,” she says.

Radice recommends removing items from countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms. She suggests putting things in boxes and neatly stacking them in the corner of the garage. Anything extra should go in a small, rented storage unit.

Even better, ask a friend or relative to hang on to your items for free.

“Pack up 90 percent of your home,” Radice says.

The cost: The price of a storage unit varies (around $45 a month for a 5-by-5-foot unit).

3. Rearrange and Neutralize
Rearrange the rooms in your home to reel in prospective buyers. Make sure each room has a distinct, useful purpose.

Page suggests touring builders’ models to see how the rooms are furnished.

“Builders are experts on preparing their product for prospective buyers,” she says.

Radice says closets should be “neat and organized.”

“The pair of shoes that you haven’t worn in 10 years, get rid of,” she says.

If your home has been painted recently, consider yourself ahead of the game. If not, take a paintbrush to the rooms that need it most. Sellers who paint the interior of their home will see a large return on the investment, Page says.

“Fresh, neutral paint on the walls, trim and doors is worth its weight in gold — it makes everything appear clean and new,” she says.

The cost: Anywhere from $12 to $50 per gallon for paint, plus another $10 to $50 for other painting supplies (primer, brushes, dropcloths, etc.) You can get back some of that money as a refund on your taxes for any items you donate to charity (such as those extra shoes in the closet).

4. Scrub and Deodorize  
Make sure your house or condo shines from top to bottom.

Page says cleaning and deodorizing a home before every showing “should be first and foremost.”

The goal is to help buyers imagine themselves living in the home, Page says.

“When buyers see an unkempt home or smell something when they first walk in, they become turned off immediately,” Page says. “They can rarely see past it to look at all of the great features in the home.”

Radice suggests having the house professionally cleaned so that everything is spotless — windows, sliding glass door tracks, garage, basement, ceiling fans, etc.

She also recommends baking cookies in the oven, bringing cinnamon sticks to a slow boil in a pot of water or using air freshener to mask smells before each showing. Ridding the home of litter boxes is also a must.

The cost: Varies by the location and size of the home, but typically less than $100 to clean a 4-bedroom, 2,500-square-foot home. Cookie dough runs about $3.

5. Enhance Curb Appeal
Whatever you do, do not overlook the home’s exterior when selling.

“Curb appeal is just as important as cleaning the inside of the home — it’s the buyer’s first impression of your home,” Page says.

Radice agrees. “You only have one chance to make a first impression. …You want your home to stand out.”

Mow the lawn, make sure the sidewalk and driveway are free of clutter and debris, and ensure the house number is easily visible.

It may also be beneficial to pressure-clean the exterior of your home, driveway and sidewalk, if needed.

Another valuable low-cost solution? Mulch.

“Mulch is cheap and covers a multitude of sins. It makes everything look trim and neat,” Radice says.

The cost: Mulch costs around $3 per bag. The cost of renting a pressure washer varies, but you may be able to get one from a local hardware store for around $50 per day. It may cost double that to purchase a pressure washer. Professional cleaning with a pressure washer for a 2,500 square-foot-house may set you back about $250.

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