How to Have An Effective Open House

When selling a home your success or failure often boils down to the open house. Home sellers with an excellent open house draw in many potential buyers, while those with a lackluster presentation drive them away. Most home buyers make up their decision based on first impressions, so deciding to take the time and properly set up a wowing open house is important. Thankfully, by following a few easy steps, brought to you by the best minds in realty, this is achieved without too much hassle or expense.

Haul Out the Trash

HGTV recommends eliminating half of your home’s clutter, either by renting a storage facility or hiring a junk removal service. “Clutter can cost a sale. Rent a storage unit or portable pod for extraneous pieces of furniture or knickknacks. Another idea is to ask a friend if you can borrow some space in his or her garage.”

Outside of clearing away unwanted items, also be sure to clean up every room and make the aesthetics of each minimal. De-personalize the house. Buyers want to see themselves living there, not you.

There’s an App for That

Bankrate advises home sellers utilize social media and other Internet services to their fullest extent. It’s essentially free advertising that can sometimes do wonders. “Make sure your agent uses the latest technology to market your house. Agents can advertise open houses on a host of popular real estate sites, such as,,, and portals on Yahoo and Google,” says Joan Pratt, real estate broker with RE/MAX Professionals in Castle Pines, Colo.

By using the Internet and online mobile resources, you’re also saving money on paper flyers and brochures. Bankrate acknoledges, “these days, many agents put all of that information online, says Pat Vredevoogd Combs, past-president of the National Association of Realtors and vice president of Coldwell Banker AJS Schmidt in Grand Rapids, Mich. People are more likely to read the material online, she says. And she finds that most of her attendees have reviewed it before they come to the open house.”

Organize the Cabinets suggests that “storage space is a vital selling point of any property. More is more when it comes to the nooks and crannies of where to put belongings. Cluttered linen closets, kitchen cabinets and bedroom closets make it appear that your home doesn’t have enough storage. Solve this issue by streamlining and organizing all these spaces — we guarantee a buyer is going to look.”


US News believes that you shouldn’t be at the open house, or if you are that you need to have limited to no interaction with potential buyers. “You shouldn’t be home during an open house. If you’re absent, buyers will feel more comfortable asking questions to the realtor, and discussing the benefits and drawbacks of your home. You’ll also feel better not having to hear all of the potential buyers’ opinions first hand. Find something fun to do that will take your mind off of things. And if you have pets, make sure you take them with you.”


The Top 5 Moving Mistakes

These tips will help anyone preparing for a move, whether they currently live in a house, an apartment, a dorm, with friends or with mom and dad.

1. Hiring a shady mover.

We’ve all heard horror stories about moving scams, and perhaps maybe you’ve been the victim of a moving scam yourself. You can steer clear of a less-than-upstanding mover by doing your homework. The Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, your state transportation regulator and the U.S. Department of Transportation — and even your relatives, friends, neighbors and colleagues — are all good sources of information about whether a moving company is on the up-and-up. Doing some homework online can save you a lot of heartache on moving day.

If you’ve done your research and still aren’t confident in the movers you’ve come across, you always can go the DIY route — just be sure you’re up for the task.

2. Messing up the quotes.

If you hire a mover, you should be able to have someone from that company come to your place for an in-home moving estimate. If a moving company won’t do an in-home estimate, you should think about shopping around for another mover.

Along those lines, don’t rely on just one quote from one mover. Contact several movers for quotes. If you really like one mover over another but your favorite company is a little pricey, try negotiating for a lower price. Always make sure to get a moving estimate in writing.

3. Packing too much stuff.

Do you really need those old boxes of baby clothes that you haven’t laid eyes on since your 6-year-old was in diapers? Before you move, you need to “edit” your belongings. Think about whether you can trash some of your possessions, donate them to charity, or give them away to friends and relatives. Perhaps you could hold a garage sale to clear out some of the clutter. If you haven’t seen, worn or used something in a year, it’s best to think hard about whether you need to keep it — and whether you need to haul it to your new place.

4. Failing to schedule your move well in advance.

During the summer months, good moving companies are booked up quickly. Rather than waiting till the last minute, make sure your move is scheduled weeks — or, better yet, months — in advance. You don’t want to be scrambling to find a mover the day before you’re supposed to head out. Moving already is stressful enough without adding that frustration.

5. Ignoring the need to pack ahead of time.

You’ll find very few people who’ll say that packing is fun. In fact, a 2013 survey commissioned by SpareFoot found that people who’d moved in the past year identified packing and unpacking as the biggest hassle in the process.

You can lessen the load by beginning to pack well before moving day comes along. Start by boxing up stuff that you won’t need right away — for instance, if you’re moving in the summer, pack up your winter clothes so that they’re out of the way. Also, be sure to carve out time in your schedule to check items off your packing to-do list.

If you get down to the wire and need help with packing, enlist friends, neighbors, relatives or colleagues to lend a hand. Make sure you’ve got plenty of food and beverages as a “thank you” for your volunteer helpers. If you can’t rustle up any free help, consider hiring laborers to do the packing for you; that may be a small price to pay to alleviate moving-related stress.


Perfect Your Grilling Technique


Bacteria on the outside of your grill can eventually affect the taste of things inside your grill. Every few weeks, sprinkle baking soda on a wet sponge or brush and give the outside of your grill a thorough clean. 

After every use, protect your grill with a cover. This is especially important if you store your grill outside – it will help prevent hardware failures, rusting and dirt buildup.

Before placing any burger patties, coat the cooking grid with oil or cooking spray. This minimizes stuck-on food and helps your meal stay moist as it cooks. 

For the best tasting grilled treats, clean your grate before and after each use. Heat the grill for 5 to 10 minutes, then use the back end of a wire brush to scrape off any remains. 

For optimal airflow, stack your coals in a pyramid shape in the middle of the grill. This shape creates maximum heat efficiency and the least amount of smoke.

To make clean up easier, place a tarp or grill mat underneath the grill. It will catch debris, grease and any fallen food.

To prevent excess smoke and bad flavors, dump your charcoal and ash after each use (don’t forget about the ash catcher!). Once the grill is empty, clean it out thoroughly with a wire brush.


Weekly Marketing Tip

Weekly Marketing Tips

Be Your Own Marketing Personal Trainer

  • Be accountable- Make time to devote to doing marketing, and doing it properly.
  • Strategy- Don’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.  Have a goal and find a way to reach that goal.
  • Keep it fresh- Consider adding something new to your marketing workout, like a video or a very recent article with great content to start a discussion.

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Here are five common causes of clutter, paired with easy solutions for change:

1. Recreational Shopping

We’ve all been guilty of buying a thing or two we don’t need – so much so, that this habit is the number one culprit of clutter in the home!

Solution: Stay out of stores and shopping malls unless you absolutely need to buy something. Before you go, look through your closet to remind yourself of what you already own. Do you really need another gray cardigan or pair of black flats?

2. “Clutter Creep” Throughout the Week

You start Monday morning with a clean house, only to be left with a messy disaster on Friday afternoon.

Solution: Don’t go to sleep during the week with a cluttered home. Before bed each night, pick up at least five things and put them in their place. By the end of the week, your home will be a lot more organized.

3. Emotional Attachment

Some items – like priceless family photos – should be cherished and held onto forever. Other items – like that surfboard keychain from Mexico – could be causing clutter in your home.

Solution: We’re not saying you should toss everything from your beach vacation in Mexico ten years ago, but there are likely a few things in your home you may be unnecessarily holding onto for sentimental reasons.

How can you decide what to keep? Ask yourself this question: “If I lost it by mistake, would I really care, or could I even possibly be glad?”

4. Letting Junk Mail Linger

It’s all too easy to bring in the mail only to open it, set it aside, and leave it in a messy pile for the next week.

Solution: Take care of mail as soon as you bring it in. Recycle anything that needs to be recycled, and file any bills immediately. Use PaperKarma to stop junk mail for good. Then, create a fun mail holder with a basket or upcycled coffee can so it always has a place to go.

5. Keeping What You Never Use

Whether it’s that kitchen gadget you ordered from a late night infomercial or that label maker from 1995, it’s easy to collect useless items year after year. It’s time to start letting them go!

Solution: Do a monthly purge of 15 unwanted or unused items. Go throughout your entire house and choose 15 things that you no longer use or want. If you haven’t used the belonging in the past year or if it is no longer functional, toss or donate it.


Weekly Marketing Tip

Weekly Marketing Tips

What are Infographics and Why Should You Use Them in Social Media?

  • Infographics are visual presentations of information that use the elements of design to display content.
  • Infographics can be used to show complex information in the form of easy to follow graphics
  • Use infographics as posts on social media to send valuable data in a visual and appealing way.
  • Simply Google “real estate infographics”, “realtor infographics”, etc. and copying the URL for the infographic into your social media status will display the graphic.

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Faster Sales, More Buyer Traffic in Hampton Roads

Properties sold faster in March — at a median of 55 days — due to low inventories of homes for sale nationwide, according to the latest REALTORS® Confidence Index. The index is based on a survey of more than 3,800 REALTORS® about their transactions in March.

Short sales were on the market the longest, for 112 days in March compared to 98 days in February, according to the report. Foreclosed homes were on the market for 55 days.

About 37 percent of real estate professionals report that properties sold in March had been on the market for less than a month. In February, 34 percent of practitioners reported the same.

Buyer traffic was also up in March, although demand was softer than a year ago, according to the report.

Still, REALTOR® confidence about current market conditions ticked up in March, reflecting a typical seasonal increase. Their confidence about the outlook for the next six months also improved but is lower than what it was a year ago, according to the report. The biggest concerns among REALTORS® remain low levels of inventories, tight credit conditions, and uncertainty about flood insurance regulation, according to the REALTORS® Confidence Index.

REALTORS® continue to be confident that prices will increase over the next 12 months but at a “modest pace.” They expect prices to increase at a median of about 4 percent over the next 12 months. The states that have the most optimism about price increases — expecting increases of about 5 percent to 7 percent over the next 12 months — are California, Oregon, Nevada, Georgia, Florida, and Hawaii. States that expect a 3 percent to 5 percent price increase are Washington, North Dakota, Texas, Michigan, New York, and the Washington, D.C., metro area.

“Low inventory compared to demand is expected to continue to buttress prices, as well as the declining share of distressed sales in the market,” the report notes.

Source: “Properties Sold Faster in March, Typically at 55 Days in March 2014,” National Association of REALTORS®’ Economists’ Outlook Blog (May 5, 2014) and REALTORS® Confidence Index for March