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Real Estate Resource Center

Eliminating the Home Selling (and Buying) Jitters

House23Selling your property and buying a new home can be a potentially intimidating experience… so much so that these jitters may even prevent some people from making a move!

It doesn’t have to be that way.

A big part of the stress of selling and buying comes from not understanding the process or having unanswered questions. You might worry about how the state of the market will affect the value of your purchase over the long term or what you would do if you found your dream home before receiving any offers on your current property.

That’s where a good REALTOR® comes in. We can explain the process to you, answer all your questions, and show you how to make your move go smoothly.

Looking for a good REALTOR®? Call me today!

Do You Know the Basics of Home Security?

houseMost people feel confident about the basics of home security. For example: Keep all doors locked. Have a light on in the house while away. Never hide a key outside in an obvious place, like under the mat.

Yet, almost a million and a half properties get burglarized in North America each year. So how can you prevent that from happening to your home? Here are a few less known home security basics:

  • Actually, never hide a key outside. Thieves know all the hiding places. Instead, make sure all family members have a key.
  • Two-thirds of home burglaries occur during the day. So be extra vigilant about making sure doors and windows are locked while you’re away during the day.
  • Surprisingly, most thieves are not daring. They are 2.7 times more likely to target a home without an alarm system.
  • Thieves will attempt to force entry through sliding-style doors and windows first. So make sure these have a locking bar or extra bolt lock.
  • Surprising, 40% of household burglaries do not involve forced entry. The thief is able to slip in through an unlocked window or door.
  • Don’t show off possessions! An imported racing bike parked next to the garage, or expensive audio equipment clearly seen through a window, is an invitation to burglars.
  • Take a look at the lighting and landscaping around your property. Are there spots where a thief could easily hide? If so, make some changes.
  • When planning a trip, have a trusted neighbor pick up newspapers, flyers and anything else that may accumulate at your door.

Your local police department may have more tips and special programs for keeping your home secure. Give them a call.

My Keller Williams Story

At least once a week I am asked by my clients, other Realtors, and people who I am connected with on Facebook about Keller Williams.     Each time the question has been asked it goes something like this:  “It looks like moving to Keller Williams was a really good decision for you, what is the difference?”     So I decided to write a short blog on My Keller Williams Story to share with everyone who may have had this question but didn’t ask.

To answer the question completely I need to give you a little bit of my Real Estate history.   I became a Realtor in 2004 and started with Long and Foster due to the payment structure of the company there gets to be a point when it makes more sense to investigate other companies.     I joined Re/Max Advantage Realty in 2008 right around when the real estate bubble burst.    Like most Realtors my level of production dropped significantly that year.     I continued with Re/Max Advantage until April of 2011.   During the three and a half years there my production levels had plateaued.   For those of you who know me (even a little bit) my personality is not the type to be satisfied with plateauing.     I constantly try to improve myself in all aspects of my life.     I utilized all of the training and coaching opportunities that Re/Max had to help increase production and nothing was changing.

The first four months of 2011 was the worst beginning I had in regards to level of production.     If I had continued on that path for the remainder of 2011 my business would have been down 81%.    To be completely honest my family and I were in a financial place that was extremely scary and seemed to have no hope of changing.  It was personally one of the hardest times in my career.    I was doing everything right, so I thought, I was in the office every day by 8am, I was being coached by my manager at Re/Max, I was in a mastermind group with other agents, I was attending training and implementing all of the ideas and suggestions given to me.   But ultimately it was just not working.

During that time I had been talking with the Team Leader at Keller Williams of Greater Howard County, Rachel Resch about the Keller Williams model and the difference it could make in my business.   I really did not want to change companies again but I was out of options.    I was either going to have to get out of the business or I had to make a change.   So at the end of April in 2011 I made the switch to Keller Williams Realty Centre.

boardWhen I left Re/Max Advantage Realty two things happened that explained partly  why I had not been as successful as I wanted.    The manager who was meeting with me weekly to coach me on my business admitted that she did not know “my numbers.”  This means each and every week I was meeting with a manager for advice on how to grow my business and she did not know my current levels of production.      Anyone in business or coaching knows the first rule to causing growth is to know the current situation.   This was disappointing.      The second thing that happened is I received an email from another manager.     In that emailed she expressed her disappointment of me leaving and then at the end of the email she wrote “You’ve got some great ideas and I am sure given a different market you would be soaring.”     What that meant to me is that Re/Max Advantage and/or that manager has the belief that no matter how good of an agent you are with great work ethic and good ideas you cannot be successful in a “down market.”     That quote from that manager is actually on a piece of paper directly in front of me.  It is one of my motivators each and every day.    So on one hand I am so grateful for that comment.

Please don’t mistake my comments as bashing my former company.    I actually really like all the people that work there.   However, the Re/Max model in general is one in which they are unable to help their agents grow.     The agents that do grow at a Re/Max company are doing it on their own.    I am the type of person that craves, desires and needs support, coaching, and systems to help me achieve dream after dream after dream.  So for me the Re/Max model did not work.

The Keller Williams provides exactly the opposite.   Keller Williams has studied the top agents around the country over the past 20 years and they have put together a PROVEN map to follow on how to be successful.   They have training classes, seminars, and coaching that specifically helps their agents follow that path.   Trust me they KNOW my numbers.   I have to report them in each and every day to my Mastery Coach.   I am never allowed to not be successful, even in a down market.    If you remember my start to 2011 was my slowest start to the year ever.   At Re/Max Advantage from January to May 1st I had only closed $220,000 worth of property.   In order to feed my family I had to make a switch.   After being with Keller Williams I ended up closing on an additional $5,025,900 worth of property.    I recently looked at my last 12 month period in comparison to my previous 12 months and I have had a 110% growth in my business and I am on track to a $15 million year of closed volume.     So I am officially changing the quote that the previous manager sent me to “You’ve got some great ideas and I am sure given a different real estate company you would be soaring!”

Joining Keller Williams was the best business decision I have ever made.   I finally know what I have to do each and every day to continue my success path and achieve any dream I have.      This is my Keller Williams story.   If you for any reason want to talk to me about my experience and my story I am happy to share in more detail.

Tips to Keep Your Garden Healthy

img011No matter what the weather, the official arrival of spring is a symbolic time for renewal, especially among avid gardeners. Whether or not you are prepared to get your hands dirty, there is plenty to do right now to help ensure your lawn or garden will have a good summer.

Here’s a few tips:

  • Test soil, consider nutrient supplements
  • Check tools and sharpen blades
  • Evaluate potential layout changes
  • Consult national hardiness charts
  • Consider indigenous plants
  • Investigate natural pesticides and herbicides

Enjoy your spring in the garden!

Howard County Energy Audit (Part 1)

Central Air Conditioning

Central Air Conditioning

About two months ago our family decided to apply to Howard County Energy Audit Program. We wanted to save money on our BGE bills and also be more environmentally responsible. To be completely honest I filled out the application and forgot about it! Then to my surprise I receive an email that we were selected as a Winner of the Energy Audit Program!

I am going to be doing a series of articles and videos as we go through this process. I am hoping you find this information helpful and interesting. Our first step is we had to provide Howard County with our Gas and Electric usage readings for the past 12 months. Initially I was thinking this was going to be a big process of digging through past bills and finding the information but BGE made the process EXTREMELY easy. I created an account with BGE and within minutes was able to pull up my last 12 bills that had all the information I needed.

So I am excited to learn more about what the numbers mean – but I was shocked that there was such a wide range in our usage during the different seasons. For example, on our electric usage we had a low of 944 kWh in February 2011 and a high usage of 2262 in August 2011. I know this is directly related to our air conditioning usage but it was interesting to see how much it changed.

Through out this process if you have participated in Howard County Energy Audit Program or another program I would love for you to share your experiences as well. Here is the link that takes you directly to the Howard County Energy Program. They are still taking applications to participate in this program.    Check out my video about this first step.    Please feel free to share with friends and family if you think this information will be helpful.

Real Estate Market Statistics for Howard County, MD | RBI

Real Estate Tip of the Day:  Here are the October Market Statistics for Howard County.  If you would like an additional County and/or zip code let me know.  I can even email them privately to you.

Real Estate Market Statistics for Howard County, MD | RBI.

9633 Larchmede Ct, Ellicott City, MD | Powered by Postlets

9633 Larchmede Ct, Ellicott City, MD | Powered by Postlets.

Can I take my flagpole?

I get a call from my seller after the final walk thru happens and the question of the day was “Can I take my flagpole with me?” My answer was – that is an interesting question and I don’t have a clear answer for you right now. He goes on to tell me that he has an emotional connection to the flagpole and his son already dug up the concrete and removed the pole and concrete and put it in his yard. This was the first discussion we had about the flagpole – I had made the assumption it was just a regular flagpole since he didn’t mention it before.

So I decided to post on facebook to see what other Realtors thought and I got a WIDE range of comments, suggestions, and opinions. At the end of the day, most Realtors thought it was in one of those gray areas.

What I ultimately told my client was that I was not sure whether it is considered a fixture or not but the contract says that the home has to be in the same condition as when the buyer put the offer on the property unless otherwise agreed upon. So since the flagpole was there when they wrote the offer there needs to be a flagpole with the home.

Client understood and has purchased another flagpole. My suggestion to all sellers out there is if there is something that is special that you want to keep make sure you tell your Realtor when you put the home on the market. This will save stress and problems in the future.

If you would like to get my thoughts on ANY real estate question or situation give me a call 443-904-3637. Make it a great day!

Appraisals – what every seller should know!

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Copyright 2011 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

How to Pick the Right Home?

In the process of buying a home there are many decisions that buyers have to make along the way.   Some of these decisions include:  How much can I afford?    New construction or Resale home?   Is this a good time to buy?   How much should I offer on a home?    What type of inspectors should I use?   Is this a good investment?        The list of questions could go on and on and on.     However, in my experience as a Realtor, I believe one of most important and often neglected questions tends to be “Is this the right home for us to purchase?”

A lot of people might believe that they will just know if it the right home for them when they see it.   However, I find that buyers will often get caught up in the excitement and the emotions of finding a home.   They will often either avoid some issues with the home and/or discount them as not being very important.       When you work with a Realtor they should be guiding you through these emotions. Your Realtor should ask lifestyle questions and point out everything these see in the home.  As I tell my clients, I will tell you the good, the bad and the ugly about any home and then you can decide if it is a good fit.   Check out the video on some of the tips that I give my buyers when they look at homes.   Hopefully it can help you too!

Buying a home is not like buying a sweater, you can not just return it if you decide later you don’t like it.   Before and during looking at a home there are many things you and your Realtor can do to help guide you to buying a home that you will love.   If you are in need of additional advice or tips on buying or selling a home please call me at 443-904-3637 or email me at laura.strunk@remax.net.