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Does a real estate agent really need to be a REALTOR? - 12/30/11 12:05 PM
We're about to lose a lot of our colleagues next month. The annual renewal of local association dues is coming up for many agents. Many associations will lose members who can't afford the cost of renewing - typically several hundred dollars in many places (over $700 for my association). The membership includes many so-called "member benefits" including forms, business discounts, and political advocacy. If they stay in business, is it necessary for them to be REALTORS? In the State of California there are a large number of agents who opt not to be REALTORS. I'll bet there are agents in other (97 comments)
I just earned my Accredited Consultant in Real Estate certification. Now what... - 12/29/11 11:42 AM
Last week I wrote a blog about my "Naught and Nice Lists" for 2011 and in that list I included the Accredited Consultant in Real Estate (ACRE) designation on my naughty list. Why? I didn't think I could easily fit into my business model and I didn't have time to finish up the testing (even after completing the fee schedule). Well, guess what. It's officially off the naughtly list. The last two days I finished the testing and graduated! Why did I change my mind so quickly? Well, this week has been all about catching up and I had the time. (10 comments)
Are your blog and comments offending both consumers and colleagues? - 12/28/11 11:12 AM
I read a post yesterday from a fellow blogger that got a huge stream of negative feedback comments. The article was supposed to be funny but several agents found it offensive and when I read it, felt that consumers might take offense as well. Without going into details, suffice it to say the blog would have been better off being "Members Only". My point is, do you know what content will offend consumers, colleagues, or both? Let's start with the first rule of blogging: Once you post to the Net, it's there FOREVER! If you write and post something that could (67 comments)
Did you write a contract or show property on Christmas Day? - 12/26/11 10:16 AM
I happen to know a few agents around the country who did get emails or calls from clients asking to show property on Christmas Day. I also know at least one agent who wrote an offer on Christmas Day. On what is arguably the most sacred day off in the United States, apparently there are a few people (buyers and sellers) who have their heads so far up their posteriors that they don't think twice about calling their agent on Christmas Day. Did you write a contract on Christmas? Did you go out looking at property on Christmas? Personally, none of (17 comments)
2011 December Blogging Challenge - Day 25 - Creating my own blogging challenge! - 12/25/11 01:19 PM
This challenge, like so many others, is designed to drive bloggers to write more. That's the hard part of blogging, right? It's hard to make it a routine. So you sign up for these contests because they require you -- force you -- to blog more than you normally would. OK, so here's a challenge... CREATE YOUR OWN BLOGGING CHALLENGE! As a personal blogging challenge to myself, I vowed to blog every day this month (even thought the contest didn't require it). I also vowed to enter every contest. So, I entered all the contests I could see in the Contests (43 comments)
The Ultimate Guide to Christmas Light Displays in Silicon Valley - 12/24/11 12:38 PM
Are you looking for the best neighborhood Christmas light displays in the San Jose / Silicon Valley area? Anyone who drives around Silicon Valley enough will happen upon one or more truly epic displays of lights in their neighborhood. Do you have a local "Clark Griswold" who puts up 25,000 lights? We do! And it's all kinds of awesome. Some displays are just lights. Others have music timed to them broadcast on an FM channel. Either way, there are lots of nice displays. The website with the list of many of the best displays is CaliforniaChristmasLights.com Some great displays to see (1 comments)
Merry Whatever™...the alternative to so many salutations - 12/22/11 04:50 PM
While a few folks argue the merits of saying "Merry Christmas" versus "Happy Holidays", I've decided to go with Merry Whatever™. The beauty of Merry Whatever™ is that it covers everything. Just substitute "Whatever" for the holiday appropriate to the person you're addressing. You see, in cosmopolitan Silicon Valley, I've got friends and clients who are Pagan, Jewish, Persian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, African, and many other cultures who have absolutely no interest in Christmas. It's just another day, which is why they keep calling to buy and sell property (yeah!). For the record, I'm not a Christian. For me, Christmas is (8 comments)
Agent related to seller...and other ways to never sell your home in Silicon Valley - 12/20/11 04:25 PM
I saw a great article from Renee Burrows this morning about expired listings in Las Vegas and some of the many reasons they didn't sell. In Silicon Valley, we have a lot of expired listings and many of the reasons they don't sell include those she cited; overpriced, poor photography, badly staged, ridiculous showing instructions, and so forth. There are thousands of licensed agents in Silicon Valley and a large number of those sell nothing all year. They get their license to help family and friends sell their homes at a discount, largely as a favor. So, as a home seller, (1 comments)
Help! Activerain contests are killing my SEO! - 12/17/11 10:31 AM
In the last couple of months, I've made an effort to join many of the contests run on Activerain. I do this especially when the contest calls for hyperlocal posts because those are the posts that get good rankings in search results. Let's face it, THE most important outcome of blogging is having it rank high in Google, Bing or Yahoo SERP and be found by a prospect. Points, schmoints - gimme leads. Problem is, in the latest round of posts written for the December Season of Celebrations & Sharing Contest my posts are ranking WAY below what normal Activerain posts (75 comments)
Christmas in the Park in San Jose, California - December’s Season of Celebrations & Sharing - 12/16/11 12:22 PM
I've been to this (in fact I went last year) and it's one of the largest Christmas displays I've ever seen. It takes up the entire 2-acre Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park with over 60 displays that include animated characters, community made Christmas trees, and holiday decorations. They even have "snow" that shoots out over guests from time to time. In addition to the displays, visitors can enjoy: Meet with Santa Live entertainment Amusement rides and games for kids and adults Concessions with fun foods including international favorites Gifts and toys for sale DONATION BOXES! This is important, please donate. ADMISSION: (4 comments)
December’s Season of Celebrations & Sharing - Vasona Fantasy of Lights in Los Gatos, California - 12/16/11 12:09 PM
There are lots of well known displays of lights throughout the Bay Area and Silicon Valley. One of the best known is the Fantasy of Lights held in Vasona Park in Los Gatos. This 1.5 mile drive through the park showcases an seemingly endless array of light displays and holiday displays. It's really simple, just pack your family, friends, whoever into your car and drive through the park to see the displays. The lines are long and you will drive slowly so don't think it'll just be a quick trip. So, that makes it a great opportunity to get out of (1 comments)
December’s Season of Celebrations & Sharing - Holiday Open House at Ainsley House in Campbell, California - 12/16/11 11:34 AM
The Ainsley House in downtown Campbell is a historic home with an old "Cotswold" style roof that stands out from more contemporary styles of the surrounding neighborhood. It offers a very "Dickens" feeling to the holidays when it's decked out in decorations and holiday lights. Thus, it's a great time for the Holiday Open House. This is a chance to: Tour Ainsley House See all the decorations inside and out Enjoy a few refreshments Listen to live entertainment Since you're within easy walking distance of the downtown restaurants, it's easy to stop by either before or after dinner to make a (1 comments)
December’s Season of Celebrations & Sharing - Holiday Family Concert in Saratoga, California - 12/15/11 05:29 PM
This Saturday, December 17th at 7:30PM, the Winchester Orchestra of San Jose will present a variety of classic Broadway musical tunes and Christmas music to celebrate the season. Music comes from some well-known Broadway plays including South Pacific and Gypsy. This event is also help on December 18th in San Jose. See the Winchester Orchestra website for details. The Saratoga concert takes place at West Valley College located at: 14000 Fruitvale Ave Saratoga, CA 95070 Tickets are either $10 or $20 and may be ordered by calling 408-866-5302 or visiting the Winchester Orchestra website. There should be plenty of parking in (2 comments)
December’s Season of Celebrations & Sharing - Breakfast with Santa in Los Altos, California - 12/15/11 05:26 PM
When you grew up, did you always wonder what it would be like to actually meet Santa? Of course, and you got a chance to at the mall. How about actually having breakfast with him? Well, kids have the chance to actually do that at Maltby's restaurant in Los Altos! When you go to the Breakfast with Santa event at Maltby's in Los Altos on December 17th at 9AM, you and your child will get to actually meet and greet with Santa. You can purchase tickets at the following locations: Adventure Toys Cranberry Scoop Los Altos Village Association Maltby's Seating is (1 comments)
December’s Season of Celebrations & Sharing - Holiday Carriage Rides in Los Altos, California - 12/15/11 04:52 PM
Residents have been enjoying old-fashioned carriage rides in Los Altos during the holidays for years. They've actually grown in popularity is recent times as people realize it's a nice way to enjoy a special memory and see all the bright lights in the slightly Dickensian downtown area. Los Altos lights up all the trees on State and Main Streets to set up most of the path used for the carriage rides. Rides are scheduled every 30 minutes from 5PM - 9PM on the following dates: December 16, 17, 18th December 23, 26, 27th The carriage is a spacious white coach with (2 comments)
Should foreclosures and short sales be used in appraisals? (or CMAs?) - 12/13/11 09:56 AM
In my opinion, no, they shouldn't. Even in a market where the bulk of the homes sold are foreclosures they still shouldn't. The National Association of Home Builders has made the claim, in a recent study, that using foreclosures and short sales as comparables in appraisals is creating a downward spiral in prices. The appraisals, they say, even come in at below the price to build a new home. Comparisons are made between a foreclosed older home to a brand new one with upgrades. How is that a fair comparison? It isn't.
Foreclosures seldom sell at market rates. I'll repeat (119 comments)
Mountain View real estate market report for December 2011 - 12/13/11 09:54 AM
The Mountain View real estate market is facing a typical seasonal downturn in terms of pricing, with the average selling price at $907,110 which is down from just over $1 million last month. What's interesting is that the number of homes sold was 22 which is a substantial rise compared to October. This strange combination of figures is because several older, less expensive homes have been selling in sections of the town that don't normally do well. The top markets such as Cuesta Park and Waverly Park have little inventory and this can't counter all the low-end sales. Another factor shifting (0 comments)
Los Altos Hills real estate market report - December 2011 - 12/13/11 09:32 AM
Last month was a fairly "normal" market for Los Altos Hills. The average sales price was $2,279,000 which is on par with September and fairly reasonable compared to most months, perhaps a bit on the low side. Sales of homes in the Hills slow down a lot at this time of year so with 6 homes sold, at least buyers are still showing signs of interest. If that number had been at 3-4, I would say we're in trouble. As it is, inventory levels are dropping...a lot. There were only 3 new listings last month and 17 expired. Combined with 6 (0 comments)
Los Altos real estate market report - December 2011 - 12/13/11 09:13 AM
Talk about ending the year on a high note, the average sales price in Los Altos in November was $1,921,827 which is up from $1,775,630 last month. The median is down compared to last month but that's being caused by several low-end sales. We saw the same issue last month but more so in November and we'll see it again in December. A few sellers have been dumping smaller homes at really low prices which skews the average and median numbers quite a bit. Even with those in the mix, the market is showing a lot of strength. This time of (1 comments)
How a REALTOR can serve as a home inspector - 12/09/11 09:41 AM
A buyer finds the perfect house...sort of. They're in need of a home inspection, on top of the one the seller has already done. The REALTOR really wants (i.e. needs) this deal to go through and, in good REALTOR fashion, wants to be helpful to his/her clients. The buyer has a few questions about what does or does not need fixing and wants a second opinion. So, the conversation goes like this... BUYER: That roof looks like it's old. Do you think it needs replacing? AGENT: I read in the disclosures that they patched it up a couple of years ago. (12 comments)
If you're not executing your 2012 business plan now, you've already failed. - 12/08/11 12:10 PM
That's a pretty bold statement, huh. It's true. Business planning always happens well in advance and especially lead generation. It takes time so if you're planning on doing business in Q1 of 2012, all those things have to have already happened. Remember, it's CLOSED business that counts each quarter, not just active buyers and sellers. Let's assume you have a plan for 2012. If so, what you do NOW will have an impact on late Q1 and Q2 of 2012. Here's why. Lead generation timelines work like this, and I'm being really optimistic... Month 1 - Launch marketing program Month 2 (11 comments)
What is it like to sell a multi-million dollar home? - 12/07/11 12:11 PM
Selling a high-end home seems like a dream to many agents. The prospect of selling a mansion or estate with lots of space, a grand driveway, tall ceilings, exotic materials...the stuff you see on TV when stars sell their homes. And of course, there's the prospect of a huge commission at the end of the sale. Well, let's take the varnish off that image just a bit. Pre-market evaluations on a multi-million dollar home include several things that just cost more and take more time than the usual home. They require home inspections, termite reports, and other inspections just like another (5 comments)
Want to save time and money previewing homes? Here's a tip on using Google... - 12/07/11 11:48 AM
How many times have you driven up to a house that looked great in the MLS, only to find that it's in a less than ideal neighborhood or immediately next to a really messy neighbor? I'll bet it's quite a bit. No matter where you look, the neighborhood has an impact on how desirable a home is to a buyer. In Silicon Valley, it's very easy to go to a neighborhood where a new home is sitting next to a house with dead grass, peeling paint, and worse. So, how do I save myself the time and trouble of driving all (7 comments)
Making your client Christmas card list - who should you send to? - 12/06/11 01:00 PM
I've made my annual Christmas card list and will send out cards to those clients who made the list. Now, many agents would naturally assume that list includes "all" clients. Well, not quite. Depending on how much business you do, if you have a client list going back a few years you could easily have hundreds of people to send cards to. Considering the cost of cards and postage, is that the best use of your time and money? Probably not. You really need to pare down the list of who you send cards to. It's not because you don't like (13 comments)
The back of my greeting card: May the warmth of the Los Altos community brighten your spirit this holiday season. Remember to enjoy all the community offers including carriage rides and fine shops in downtown. Thank you for being a great client.
I wrote this because I've been a long time resident of Los Altos and the town puts (6 comments)
Quick and easy place to take e-waste in Silicon Valley - 12/05/11 01:52 PM
If you're like the rest of us, you've got old appliances, printers, computers, and other electronic gadgets that have outlived their use. Hopefully you know that you can't just dump those leftover electronics into the garbage can. So, if you want to make things easy, I've got a tip -- tak them to Goodwill. Goodwill centers throughout Silicon Valley will take e-waste along with your other donations. Just let me know you're bringing items that qualify as e-waste and they'll take it off your hands. While you're planning to visit Goodwill this holiday season, why not consider taking your other donations (4 comments)
Los Altos schools use Khan Academy with great success. Should you? - 12/05/11 01:31 PM
In case you haven't heard, there's a great educational resource called the Khan Academy. It's a series of videos stored on YouTube that covers a wide range of topics suitable for kids from elementary to high school. The method of teaching has been widely praised and was recently covered in the San Jose Mercury News. Los Altos elementary schools, already among the best in the state of California, have been using their math videos to augment in-school training. Students love the videos and parents are happy that the kids get a little extra training, all for free. That's right, the videos (2 comments)
What's the #1 thing to give clients to justify your commission? - 12/04/11 10:37 AM
Broker Bryant wrote a great article this morning on the issue of justifying your commission. I get this question a lot because in my area and with the listings I engage in, sellers nearly always question what I'm paid. As the commissions rise, sellers are increasingly savvy and want to know that my efforts go well beyond just a little online marketing and a broker tour. For me, the #1 thing I give my clients is...experience. Not just any experience, the kind they need. There are different kinds of experience. Some good, some a waste of time, some bad. The value (8 comments)
The ethics of Photoshop with real estate photos - 12/02/11 12:06 PM
Everybody knows photoshop - the standard for taking photos from "blah" to "wow!" in a few clicks. It's even become a verb just like Google. You "Photoshop" a picture, instead of just editing it. The power of Photoshop or any other program that's used to improve the quality of photos is that, through digital magic, flaws and mistakes can be easily removed. While it's important to make a home look it's best online and in print, what is considered ethical when editing photos? Some of the ways to ethically edit photos include: Removing unwanted pots, weeds, or other yard features that (18 comments)
How much online marketing and social media can you manage? - 12/01/11 09:27 AM
If you count up all the sites where you have an "active" presence online, how many do you have? 5, 10, more? I'll bet you've got at least 5 sites where you're really active on and more (e.g. MerchantCircle) you update occassionally. You might also be on Yelp, Trulia, Zillow or similar sites where consumers can review you and you can promote yourself. Out of all of those, how many are really necessary? Put another way, how many do you really have time to manage? I've been good about blocking out my time to keep up on social media and blogging. (46 comments)
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