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10 Staging Secrets From the Pros for a Quick Home Sale at Top Dollar

Staging Secrets

According to the National Association of Realtors, staging a home prior to listing it can result in a faster and more profitable sale.1 In fact, the Real Estate Staging Association estimates that professionally staged properties spend 73 percent less time on the market, receive more foot traffic, and typically sell for more money.2

Following are 10 tips you can use to get your home “show ready” prior to hitting the market. These easy and cost-effective ideas will help your house look its best—and help buyers visualize themselves living there. Even if you’re not currently in the market to sell, you can use these tactics to breathe new life into your existing home decor.

 

  1. REMOVE CLUTTER

Decluttering is typically the first thing we tell clients to do to prepare their home for sale. And according to the National Association of Realtors, a whopping 93 percent of agents agree.1 Decluttering is the act of removing excess “stuff” from your home to make it appear clean and spacious.

Overflowing closets and cluttered countertops can make your house feel small and cramped. In contrast, sparsely-filled closets and clear countertops will make your home appear larger and assure buyers that there will be plenty of room to store their belongings.

Don’t neglect drawers, cupboards and even your refrigerator in your decluttering efforts. Serious buyers will check out every nook and cranny of your home, so pack up anything you don’t use on a daily basis and store it off site. The same goes for jewelry, sensitive documents, prescription medication, firearms and other items of value. Store them in a locked safe or storage unit before opening your property to buyers.

Make sure any items that remain are clean, tidy and well organized. The good news is, when it comes time to move, a large portion of your packing will be done!

 

 

  1. DEEP CLEAN AND DEODORIZE

From carpets to bathrooms to appliances, having a clean home is a MUST. If you’ve ever checked into a dirty hotel room, you can imagine how buyers can be turned off by a home that hasn’t been thoroughly cleaned.

If you have a large home, or are short on time, you may want to invest in a professional cleaning service. And if you have carpet, we generally recommend you rent a steam cleaner or hire a company to clean your carpets for you.

In addition to cleaning, it’s equally important to neutralize odors in your home that can be off-putting to buyers, especially pet smells and cigarette smoke. If the weather allows, open your windows and let in fresh air. Empty the trash frequently, and especially before a showing. Avoid cooking any strong-smelling food such as fish or heavy spices. You may need to clean (or remove) drapes and upholstery if odors are particularly strong.

Try to keep your home in clean, show-ready condition while it’s on the market. You never know when a potential buyer will want to drop by for a viewing.

 

  1. DEPERSONALIZE

Your family photos and personal mementos are often your most treasured possessions. For many of us, they are what make a house a home. However, buyers will have a hard time envisioning themselves living in a place if it feels like YOUR home.

Pack up any items that are personal to you and your family, such as photos, books, children’s artwork, travel souvenirs and religious items. Collectibles and excessive knickknacks can be distracting to buyers. Instead, keep your decor items minimal and generic to appeal to the largest number of buyers.

 

  1. NEUTRALIZE YOUR COLOR PALETTE

Along those same lines, bold color choices may not appeal to all buyers. By incorporating a neutral color palette throughout your home, buyers can better visualize the addition of their own furniture and decor, which may contrast with your current color scheme.

But don’t limit yourself to white and beige. Incorporating earth tones and midtone neutrals—like mocha and “greige” (grey-beige)—can add a touch of modern sophistication to your decor.3

 

 

One of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to neutralize your home’s decor is with paint. Walls painted in dark, bold or bright colors can turn off buyers. A fresh coat of paint in a neutral color like greige (try Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter) or warm white (such as Kelly-Moore’s Rotunda White) offers a clean palette upon which buyers can visualize adding their own personal touches.4

If your sofa is worn, stained or has a bold pattern, consider purchasing a neutral-colored slipcover. Dated or overly busy window coverings should be taken down or replaced. Instead, bring in tasteful pops of color with throw pillows and accessories.

 

  1. INCREASE YOUR CURB APPEAL

 You only get one chance to make a first impression. According to a 2017 report by the National Association of Realtors, 44 percent of home buyers drove by a property after viewing it online but did NOT go inside for a walkthrough.5 That means if your curb appeal is lacking, buyers may never make it through the door.

Walk around your home and look for any neglected areas that might seem like “red flags” to buyers, such as missing roof shingles or rotted siding. Trim trees and shrubs if needed, and make sure your lawn and flower beds are well maintained. Add some colorful flowers to your front beds and/or flower boxes to brighten up your landscaping.

Make sure the exterior of your home is as clean as the interior. This can often be accomplished with a simple garden hose. But if your siding, walkway, or driveway are stained or dingy, you may want to rent a pressure washer.

Thoroughly wash windows and screens, and remove and store dark solar screens if you have them. Open shutters, curtains and blinds, which will not only make your house look more inviting from the outside, it will brighten the inside.

Consider a fresh coat of paint on your front door, trim and shutters. And small, cosmetic improvements like new house numbers, a colorful wreath and a clean front doormat can have a big impact.6

 

  1. FRESHEN KITCHENS AND BATHS

 Kitchens and bathrooms will show better and appear larger if all items are cleared from the countertops, except for one or two decorative pieces.7 You should have already packed up non-essentials during your decluttering process, and the remaining items should be neatly stored in pantries and cupboards.

If your cabinets are dingy or outdated, adding a fresh coat of paint and new hardware is an easy and inexpensive way to make them modern and bright. Consider purchasing new shower curtains, bath mats and towels for the bathrooms and new dish towels for the kitchen.

Before each showing, make sure kitchens and baths are spotless and trash cans are empty and out of sight. To add a comforting aroma, try baking cookies, or in the fall, simmer some cinnamon sticks and cloves in a pot of water before you leave the house. In the spring, try a vase of fresh cut lilacs.7

 

  1. SET THE TABLE

Buyers often imagine hosting family gatherings in their new home, and the dining room plays a large role in that vision. If your dining room chairs are stained or outdated, you may want to recover them or use slipcovers. In most cases, an imperfect table can be camouflaged with a neutral and stylish tablecloth.

Be sure the table is centered underneath the chandelier and on the area rug if you’re using one. If your dining room is small, remove all other furniture and leave only four chairs.8

Dress up the table using nice tableware and cloth napkins or a table runner and centerpiece. For a long table, try lining up a series of small vessels down the middle.

 

 

  1. REARRANGE FURNITURE

Start in your living room and think about what you want to emphasize (and de-emphasize) about the space. For example, do you have a beautiful fireplace or a stunning view? If so, arrange the furniture with that focal point in mind. Use a symmetrical seating arrangement to create a cozy conversation area adjacent to the focal point.

If the room is small, consider removing some of the furniture to make it feel larger, especially oversized pieces. That includes oversized television sets, unless it’s a designated media room. Pulling furniture away from the wall can make the room feel more spacious, and placing your largest furniture piece in the far-left corner (as opposed to near the entry) can create the illusion of a larger space.9

For small bedrooms, remove all the furniture except the bed, bedside tables and a dresser. If it’s a large room, add one or two chairs and a table to create a seating area. Place lamps on the bedside tables and seating area if you have one.10

Make sure each space in your home has a clearly defined purpose. For example, if you’ve been using an extra bedroom as a catch-all storage space, stage it as a guest room or office instead. Turn an awkward alcove into a workstation or a reading corner. Help buyers imagine how they could use the space themselves.3

 

  1. LIGHTEN UP

Lighting can have a drastic impact on the look and feel of a home. Few buyers seek out a dark house; most prefer one that’s light and bright. Make sure windows are clean, and open curtains and blinds to let in the maximum amount of daylight.

Each room should have three types of lighting: ambient (general or overhead), task (such as a reading lamp or under-cabinet light), and accent (such as a floor or table lamp). Aim for a goal of 100 total watts per 50 square feet.11 If your mounted light fixtures are dated, replacing them with something more modern is an easy and inexpensive upgrade that can have a big impact.

Strategically placed landscape lighting can add a dramatic effect to your home’s exterior. Welcome evening visitors with a lighted walkway, or use a spotlight to accentuate trees or other landscaping features. Solar lights require no wiring; simply place them in a sunny spot and they will turn on automatically at dusk.

 

  1. HIGHLIGHT YOUR BACKYARD’S BEST FEATURES

 While your home’s interior often takes center stage, don’t forget about staging your home’s outdoor areas to help buyers imagine how they could utilize the space.

Even a small patio can become a selling feature with the addition of a cafe table and chairs. Add a tray of plates and coffee cups to help buyers envision a peaceful breakfast on the back porch. Place chairs and wine glasses around an outdoor firepit or hang a hammock with a book in your favorite shady spot.3 These small, simple additions can help buyers visualize the possibilities your backyard has to offer.

 

BEFORE YOU GET STARTED

 If you’re in the market to sell your home, this list provides a great starting point for your preparations. But nothing beats the trained eye and expertise of a real estate agent. Before you do any work, we recommend consulting a professional for advice about your particular property.

 

Please call or email us today with questions!

Sources:

  1. National Association of Realtors –
    https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/migration_files/reports/2017/2017-profile-of-home-staging-07-06-2017.pdf
  2. Real Estate Staging Association –
    http://www.realestatestagingassociation.com/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=304550&module_id=164548
  3. Houzz –
    https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/2661221/list/sell-your-home-fast-21-staging-tips
  4. HGTV –
    https://www.hgtv.com/design/outdoor-design/landscaping-and-hardscaping/10-curb-appeal-tips-from-the-pros-pictures
  5. National Association of Realtors –
    https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/reports/2017/2017-home-buyer-and-seller-generational-trends-03-07-2017.pdf
  6. The Spruce –
    https://www.thespruce.com/must-try-neutral-paint-colors-797983
  7. HouseLogic –
    https://www.houselogic.com/sell/preparing-your-home-to-sell/home-staging-checklist/
  8. com –
    http://www.stagemyownhome.com/staging-the-dining-room.html
  9. com –
    https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/small-living-room-staging-tricks/
  10. SFGATE –
    http://homeguides.sfgate.com/stage-master-bedroom-34573.html
  11. HGTV –
    https://www.hgtv.com/shows/designed-to-sell/15-secrets-of-home-staging-pictures
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Happy Birthday, TRID: How Do Realtors Like You Now?

National Association of Realtors survey finds pros and cons for agents in the first year under the new mortgage transaction regime.

TRID's 1 Year Anniversary

Key Takeaways

  1. One year after TRID’s implementation, the National Association of Realtors surveyed its members about their experiences with the regulation.
  2. Consumers have a better understanding of the homebuying process thanks to TRID, though real estate agents still struggle with the rule’s complexity, according to the poll.
  3. The main challenge from the regulation’s inception has been Realtors’ ability to access the Closing Disclosure.

This past Monday marked an important anniversary in the industry, and Inman’s Amy Swinderman says it’s doubtful that any real estate offices busted out the champagne to celebrate a controversial 1,800-page, sweeping reform of the mortgage transaction process that took effect on Oct. 3, 2015.

Amy goes on to say, nevertheless, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) polled about 55,000 Realtors about their post-TRID experiences, in honor of TRID’s first birthday.

It revealed that one year since the implementation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID), or “Know Before You Owe,” rule, consumers have a better understanding of the homebuying process.

However, real estate agents still struggle to comply with the complex landmark regulation.

“Looking back at the first year of Know Before You Owe, we saw a solid mix of challenges and success,” said NAR President Tom Salomone in a statement. “Consumers now have a clearer picture of their mortgage when they buy a home, and that’s a good thing, but transaction delays and errors on the closing disclosure continue to frustrate our industry.

“Realtors report ongoing struggles getting access to the Closing Disclosure, making it harder for our members to advise their clients. The CFPB’s commitment to improve the rule is encouraging, and I’m hopeful that with time and some responsible fixes to the rule, the process will get smoother in the year ahead.”

TRID drives a wedge between lenders and Realtors

TRID has caused strife between lenders and Realtors, according to the survey’s respondents. Realtors said lending remains the main problem under TRID, and they pointed a finger at large, retail lenders specifically.

TRID Aniversary

Almost half (43 percent) of the Realtors surveyed said they did not develop a TRID plan with their lender partners.

Another 41 percent said they at least enhanced their email, phone call, text and face-to-face communication with lenders.

Almost 35 percent of Realtors said they have been working exclusively with lenders that were ready to demonstrate their TRID expertise, and almost 5 percent of Realtors said they simply changed their “preferred” lenders to work with compliant partners.

TRID - Lenders

“In my opinion, the TRID guidelines have reduced the communication between lenders and Realtors, and it feels like a push to keep us out of the process,” one survey respondent commented.

Trouble with the Closing Disclosure

The main challenge from the regulation’s inception has been Realtors’ ability to access the Closing Disclosure (CD).

TRID requires creditors to provide certain mortgage disclosures to the consumer, but lenders are concerned that sharing this sensitive personal information will violate privacy and information-sharing laws.

TRID Closing Disclosure

At NAR’s urging, the CFPB clarified this issue in late July, saying that it “understands that it is usual, accepted and appropriate for creditors and settlement agents to provide a Closing Disclosure to consumers, sellers and their real estate brokers or other agents.”

The Bureau said it will propose additional commentary to clarify how a creditor may provide separate disclosure forms to the consumer and the seller.

Despite that clarification, Realtors say many lenders are still reluctant to share the CD with third parties, citing legal requirements and consumer privacy as their rationale.

As a result, more Realtors have turned to title agents to provide the CD — although some title agents may be reluctant to jeopardize their lender relationships by doing so. Realtors with higher transaction volumes had better success at gaining access to the CD.

TRID - Lender Cooperation

“It pays to have very strong LOCAL title and lending strategic partners, and be honest with buyer if they have decided to use a large lender or out-of-town title [company],” one respondent said. “Most every time when they decide to go this route, at the end of the transaction, they say they should have listened.”

Had more Realtors been able to gain access to the CD, they could have prevented or corrected errors before settlement, the survey concluded.

TRID - Closing Disclosure Errors

The share of Realtors reporting errors rose from 43 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 to 50 percent in the third quarter of this year.

Realtors said the most common errors are missing seller or buyer concessions; missing agent concessions; incorrect or missing homeowners’ association dues; and mistakes with clients’ names, addresses or other identification information.

TRID Disclosure Error Types

They also cited incorrect taxes, commissions, escrows and proration of bills as common problems that could have been avoided had they been able to review the CD before closing.

“How can us real estate agents protect our clients when we have the ability to see the Closing Disclosure taken away?” one respondent commented.

Impact on Realtors

Realtors have had to make other significant adjustments since TRID’s passage, most of which have to do with meeting disclosure deadlines.

Realtors reported adjusting purchase agreements; sharing contracts and amendments sooner with lenders, title insurers and closing agents; and performing inspections earlier, all to meet deadlines.

TRID's Impact - Forced Changes

In making those adjustments, Realtors have nearly doubled the time and effort they spend per transaction, with Realtors working about 43 hours per transaction in Q3 2015, and now 80 hours per transaction in the same quarter of this year.

Direct expenditures on items like marketing, salaries, postage and notary fees have also increased by about $154 per transaction since the same quarter last year.

Although lenders and settlement agents are still finding they must delay or cancel closings due to issues in their processes (such as an error not related to an appraisal, title policy or inspection), delays are actually down year-over-year, with about 10.4 percent reporting delays in Q3 2015, and 8.5 percent reporting delays in the last three months.

However, cancellations are up slightly, with 0.6 percent reporting cancellations in Q3 last year, and 0.7 percent reporting cancellations in the last three months.

Settlement Delays & Cancellations

All in all, nearly 62 percent of Realtors rated the new settlement process as more difficult. Only about 12 percent of respondents said the process has improved under TRID.

“I worked 23 years building strong relationships, and this new TRID experience has removed me from a lot of the process, making me feel my relationships are suffering as a result,” said one respondent. “The real estate industry, on the whole, is suffering from external influences, and the client is ultimately the one who loses that great service.”

Impact on consumers

Speaking of clients, although TRID was intended to make the home-purchasing process easier and simpler for buyers, the survey noted that consumers have still been impacted by the regulation in various ways.

Realtors reported that clients had increased expenses due to rental or mortgage extensions, lost vacation time or income from taking time off, incurred additional storage fees or lost deposits and moving expenses.

Expense to Customers due to TRID delay or cancellation

In the last three months, delays cost consumers an average of $410, and cancellations cost them about $226, according to the survey.

Is the CFPB hearing about these experiences firsthand? Only 3 percent of respondents said they had clients who provided comments to the CFPB and on the lending process, although about 49 percent of respondents said they did not know if their clients had done so.

via Inman’s Amy Swinderman


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8 Signs a Home Buyer Isn’t Serious

Pseudo Homebuyers

If all those excited home buyer declarations like “This place is just perfect for us” and “I have to have it!” were binding, selling houses would be a breeze. But, as with everything in life, it’s not what people say, it’s what they do that really matters.

Still, it’s hard for home sellers to not get their hopes up when a buyer’s gushing over their home—only to be disappointed when the buyer disappears without a peep.

So what are some signs a buyer isn’t serious about your home?

It’s a good thing experienced Realtors® can tell the difference between the buyer who means business and the one who has no intention of actually sealing the deal—and that these pros graciously agreed to clue us in.

Do any of the following red flags sound familiar? Keep each in mind, and you can save yourself the drama of dashed hopes.

Sign No. 1: The buyer is flying solo

If a buyer doesn’t have a real estate agent yet, he probably isn’t serious about shopping for a home.

“Buyer’s agents come at no cost to the buyer, since the seller pays the buyer’s agent’s commission,” explains Daniel Bortz, a Realtor in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. Do you think a shopper who can’t be bothered to enlist free expert help is motivated enough to start putting papers in motion? We don’t think so either.

To put things in perspective, consider this: 87% of buyers recently purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker, according to a survey conducted last year by the National Association of Realtors® of recent home buyers and sellers. You do the math!

Sign No. 2: The buyer just began shopping

The old adage that timing is everything applies to selling homes as well. Typical home buyers take three months to buy, so if a seller is entertaining interest from someone on Day 1 or Week 1 of her house hunt, chances aren’t good that she’s the one.

“Many buyers look at a number of houses before they decide what they want,” says Bortz. “And if they’re at the early stages in their search, you’re less likely to receive an offer.”

Sign No. 3: You meet the buyer at an open house

It’s also less likely that a seller will score an offer from a buyer at an open house. According to a report from the NAR, only half of home buyers visit open houses—and those who do may be trying to avoid too much attention by hiding in the herd.

Serious buyers, on the other hand, will conduct their home search online, then once they spot a home they like, request a private showing.

It’s like dating: Asking to see a home one on one carries more weight than asking someone, “Hey, wanna hang out in a group?”

Sign No. 4: No pre-approval from a lender

There’s no need to read between the lines of this sign.

“You need to include a pre-approval letter from your lender when you submit an offer on a property,” says Bortz. “Without one, there’s no indication to the seller that you can actually afford to purchase the home.”

Sign No. 5: A speedy visit

Buyers who zip along while they’re checking out the property aren’t likely to cross the finish line with you.

“Rushing through an open house is a definite sign of lack of interest,” says Abigail Harris, a sales associate with Coldwell Banker residential brokerage in the Boston area. Breezing through without asking questions, however, isn’t necessarily a bad sign, she adds. “Many buyers feel that they have all the answers and don’t need to ask questions.”

Sign No. 6: All promises, no action

Call it a bait and … stall.

“You can tell that a buyer is dragging her feet if she says she’s very interested in making an offer but it is taking days for her to actually submit one,” says Bortz, who has encountered this phenomenon a number of times. “Typically such buyers are seriously interested, but they’re also strongly considering making an offer on another property, so they might be weighing their options before they make an offer on one of them.”

Sign No. 7: A (really) lowball offer

Everyone wants to score a deal, but if a buyer offers an “unreasonably low” sum, says Harris, that’s a “sure sign that they don’t really want the property.”

“Serious buyers in today’s market make their best offer right out of the gate,” explains Bortz. “So I’m honestly not sure why someone would throw out a ridiculously lowball offer. Maybe [it’s] just to test the waters?”

Sign No. 8: Lots of nitpicking

Even after the buyer has made an offer and you have accepted it, she still might not be 100% onboard with buying the property. Is she obsessed with finding faults and problems in the home?

“That’s a definite showing of disinterest,” says Harris. Bortz agrees, adding, “If she has a home inspection contingency and wants you to fix every single little thing that the inspector spots, such as a loose door knob, she might be looking for you to just give in and say, ‘No, I’m not fixing anything,’ so that she can back out of the deal.”

Thanks to Jennifer O’Neill, a Boston-area writer who just recently bought her first house. A former staffer at Allure, SELF, Us Weekly, and Yahoo Parenting, she admits that this new homeowner gig may be her most challenging pursuit yet. Realtor.com 


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Are You Too Nice for Your Own Good?

We’re taught to be kind to everyone, but that means keeping your guard down against potential predators. Unfortunately, to stay safe, you must adapt your nature to a more dangerous world.

Realtor Safety MonthFollowing up on our May Coffee Corner discussing Safety, and the fact that September is Realtor Safety Month, I wanted to share some additional insights on this important topic delivered by Realtor Magazine’ Graham Wood.

In Robert Siciliano’s eyes, no one is ever truly prepared to defend themselves against an attacker. “It goes against human nature,” says Siciliano, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, who teaches personal safety skills to real estate professionals. “We inherently need to trust one another in order to survive.”

According to Siciliano, most of us went through “civilized conditioning” as children, where our parents taught us to be courteous to others. While that’s a virtue of society, it also teaches us to keep our guard down — and hampers our ability to assess true danger — when dealing with strangers. “As good as it is to make [kids] behave, it also suppresses their instinctual need for survival. So when they come into contact with a predator, they don’t know how to deal with it,” Siciliano says.

Having the physical skill to thwart an attacker is only half the battle when it comes to personal safety. The attitude you’ve learned to adopt in social situations may be the biggest hazard to your safety. That’s why some experts suggest reconsidering your outlook on the world, even if it’s uncomfortable.

“A lot of people in society choose to ignore what’s going on around them,” says Gianni Cerretani, a martial artist and mortgage loan originator with HomeBridge Financial Services who teaches a mental-preparedness safety course for real estate pros in Atlanta. A year ago, the Georgia Real Estate Commission approved his class for continuing education credits for local REALTORS®. “We teach that you have to deal with the fact that violence happens and criminals are out there. If you’re aware of it, you have a better chance of surviving.”

Is It Rude to Be On Guard?
Cerretani was inspired to begin teaching safety after the case of a man disguised as a woman who brutally attacked several agents in the Atlanta area. The suspect, Jeffrey Shumate, was arrested last year after one such incident, but he has been linked to other attacks dating back to 2000. His first intended victim was Alicia Parks, an agent who was showing him a vacant property. “He was wearing white high heels, black stockings, and bright pink lipstick,” recalls Parks, GRI, a sales associate with Keller Williams Realty Lanier Partners in Gainesville, Ga. “He had on leather gloves, and he said his hands were severely burned and he didn’t want anyone to see them.”

Though she says she was on high alert from the moment they met, Parks thought the incident was a joke — even after the man began using provocative language. But after calling her his girlfriend and trying to get her to follow him to the back of the house, she knew she was in trouble. The meeting only came to an end after Parks accidentally set off the home’s alarm system, prompting the man to flee. “I didn’t even mean to set it off. I just pushed the wrong numbers,” she says.

Parks had an odd feeling when she first spoke to the man over the phone, but she went to the showing anyway. “Just the way he talked to me on the phone, he was so insistent that I come show him that house right away, and it was vacant. But I didn’t know him so I didn’t want to judge him.”

Siciliano, who helped formulate the original REALTOR® Safety initiative with the National Association of REALTORS®, says most people ignore gut feelings of fear or mistrust because they don’t want to come off as rude. They also don’t think ahead about safety because they adopt the mistaken idea that if they don’t think about it, it won’t happen to them.

“They live under the myth that if you’re prepared for a dangerous situation wherever you go, you’re paranoid,” he says. “It’s the it-can’t-happen-to-me syndrome.”

Modifying Your Frame of Mind
Cerretani aims to change how people think about safety. Teaching physical combat is an important component of safety training, he notes, but “to try and teach someone who has never done self-defense in their lives how to do martial arts training in a four-hour class is a waste of time. They’re never going to retain that information.” So instead, he focuses on mental tips such as these:

Look at yourself as a victim. “We ask people, ‘How would you attack you?’” Cerretani says. That question gets people thinking about the weaknesses in their daily routine. Are you often working alone outside the office? Are you aware of whether a door has been locked after you’ve entered a home with a client? Are you leaving a listing when it’s dark? Are your keys in your hand before you get to your car? “One or two people in every class say they don’t lock their house. People aren’t aware that they’re not aware of their vulnerabilities.”
Be hyperaware in “transitional zones.” Stepping out of your car and into a parking lot, or entering a gas station, particularly at night, are situations in which your level of safety can swing widely. “If you really pay attention to a gas station at night — we call it the ‘watering hole’ for criminals — there’s so much commotion going on that it’s very easy to have a criminal activity happen,” Cerretani says.
Watch people’s hands. Certain hand movements — such as balled-up fists — can signal an intention to attack. Other places to pay special attention to include beltlines and underneath shirts to determine whether a person is carrying a concealed weapon.
Focus on what’s near you. Most people focus on their final destination or goal, which can leave them vulnerable. For example, when entering a parking lot, those who are looking for their car are more focused on what’s further away. “If attackers are closer to you and you’re looking far out, you’re vulnerable,” Cerretani says.
Watch your back when you’re on your phone. Put your back against a wall when you’re engulfed in texting or talking on a device so no one can come up behind you and surprise you.

Is the Industry Better Prepared?
Timperis Robertson, founder of the Interactive Real Estate Academy, works with Cerretani to set up his safety class at real estate offices in the Atlanta area. She took his course before it was added to the CE curriculum, and she says it had a big impact on the way she thinks about her day-to-day routine. “It really makes you think about where you’re most vulnerable,” says Robertson, who is also a practitioner with First Home Realty in Lithonia, Ga. “It touches on the situations we face or may face every day. Those are things we don’t think about. We’re just so happy to have a client interested in a property.”

While it takes a concerted effort to change your thinking around safety, it appears many real estate professionals are making strides. With 42 percent of REALTORS® saying they use a safety app on their smartphone, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2016 Member Safety Report — a staggering leap from the 13 percent who said so in NAR’s 2015 survey — a sea change is evident in the way pros are preparing for danger.

More REALTORS® also say they carry a self-defense weapon in the field, the most popular ones being pepper spray, a firearm, or a pocket knife. However, fewer indicated that their brokerage has standard procedures for agent safety — 44 percent in 2016 versus 46 percent in 2015 — a possible indicator that agents are taking on more ownership of their own protocols.

Still, it can be difficult to get agents who have never experienced an attack to think about common-sense safety measures, says Kimberly Allard-Moccia, who helped develop the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®’ first safety class. “You think you’re going to just run if something happens,” says Allard-Moccia, GRI, broker-owner of Century 21 Professionals in Braintree, Mass. “Let’s face it: If most of us in the room are over 50 and wearing inch-and-a-half heels, you’re not going to make it.”

If you don’t think about safety ahead of time and prepare for the worst, “you will cycle in denial and delay,” she adds, “and that’s when you become a victim.”


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3 Reasons to Sell Your House Today!

Once again, the KCM Blog has some great tips pertaining to  the Residential Real Estate Market.  Last week, they ran a series of posts why NOW is the time to sell your home.

Part 1:  Demand for Real Estate is Much Stronger This YearHousing Demand

When selling anything, owners can only hope there is a strong demand for that which they are selling. The great news for today’s home sellers is that the current housing market is experiencing a stronger demand than we have seen in some time.

The  spring housing market of 2013 is projected to be one of the best in years. –Read More…

Part 2:  Housing Supply is Low

A seller’s ability to sell their home in today’s real estate market will be determined by both the supply of homes for sale and the demand for that housing. In real estate, supply is represented by the current month’s supply of homes for sale (the number of homes for sale divided by the number of homes sold in the previous month). —Read More…

Part 3:  New Construction Will Soon Be Your Competition 

Over the last several years, most homeowners selling their home did not have to compete with a new construction project around the block. As the market is recovering, more and more builders are jumping back in. As an example, theNational Association of Realtors revealed, relative to last year, year-to-date new home sales are up 19%.

These ‘shiny’ new homes will again become competition as they can be an attractive alternative to many of today’s home purchasers. —Read More…

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