Staging Tips: Styling for the Photo Shoot


By Julea Joseph, Reinventing Space

You have worked tirelessly preparing your home for sale. Don’t let all your hard work fall short with the often forgotten, most overlooked step in a great home staging – The Pre-Photo Shoot Styling. Before those photos are taken, your home needs one last interior makeover before making its grand debut on the internet. I often compare it to going to the hair salon before a big event, getting a great color, cut and style, only to go home and wash it. Don’t stop short right before you publicly introduce your home to potential buyers by not making it perfectly groomed for its Internet close-up.

Home Stagers are experts in styling homes for photo shoots. In an hour or two, we can whip and flip a home into a stunner. Your on-line photos are the #1 advertising element of your for sale home. Here are a few of our tips and techniques.

  • Remove all scatter rugs from floors. Have cleared counters and make the space extra inviting with a bowl, vase or pot of something fresh.

Photo Credit: Julea Joseph, Reinventing Space,

HOME STAGING TIP: Room look bigger and spacious in photos without rugs or counter clutter breaking up the room’s lines or distracting the eye.

  • Set a spectacular bed. Perfectly tucked, primped and pampered – the bed is the trophy of every bedroom.

Photo Credit: Julea Joseph, Reinventing Space,

 HOME STAGING TIP: Create added interest on a bed with a colorful accent pillows and textural throws.

  • Every bath needs fresh, clean, fluffy towels, a seat down, glistening surfaces, and not a personal product present.

Photo Credit: Julea Joseph, Reinventing Space,

 HOME STAGING TIP: Nothing says fresh and super clean than a stack of fluffy white towels.

  • Light it right. Showcase rooms and the home by making sure the space is lit well by turning on light, opening shades and pulling back drapes.

Photo Credit: Julea Joseph, Reinventing Space,

HOME STAGING TIP: Photograph the home at the time of day that allows just the right light in.

This post originally appeared at Julea: Reinventing Space. Copyright Jan. 4, 2015.


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Learn the True Costs Behind Rehabbing a Fixer Upper


The average cost of a midrange bathroom remodel is nearly $17,000, according to “Remodeling” magazine’s “Cost v. Value Report.” That may be just the tip of the expense iceberg for buyers considering purchasing a fixer-upper.

Help buyers plan wisely before purchasing a home that needs TLC by branding, printing, and hand-delivering a free article on “How to Assess the Real Cost of a Fixer-Upper House” from the REALTOR® Content Resource.

Visit for more articles like this.




























That’s just one of five free articles to help clients from the “Start Your 2015 Home Search Smartly” theme that you can brand, print, and hand deliver (or post to Facebook, Twitter, your website, or blog; email; or add to your e-newsletter).

REALTOR® Content Resource is brought to you by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. With it, you can download free homeownership content from HouseLogic to your marketing materials.

HouseLogic is a comprehensive consumer website — from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® — geared to helping homeowners make smart decisions to enhance, maintain, and protect the value of their home.

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Point of Sale Mandates for Real Estate: From Cumbersome to Destructive


Sam DeBord

By Sam DeBord

Government entities often attempt to place additional restrictions or costs on the transaction or transfer of real estate.  While there are often good intentions involved in the creation of these “point of sale” mandates, most proposals for new or increased transactional hurdles have serious negative consequences.

Point of sale mandates are a concern not only for real estate industry professionals, but also prospective and current home owners in a community. Barriers to the transfer of real property slow down the marketplace and often reduce home owners’ equity through transactional costs. Point of sale mandates can also create overall market depreciation by increasing failed transactions.

©cohdra, 2007. Morguefile

There is a wide range of point of sale restrictions on real estate transfers across the country. Some are minor in nature, while others are significant.  Any restriction adding costs, inspections, or bureaucracy to a real estate transaction is a drag on the industry and on home owners, but the effects of some mandates are much more severe than others.

Utility Inspections

Some point of sale mandates are intended to improve the community. Sausalito, Calif., has a mandate that requires owners to inspect their sewer laterals (which connect to the street sewer lines) and repair them before selling the home. While a buyer can (and often should) have a sewer scope inspection independently, the city has created a broad mandate that is sometimes unnecessary for certain property types, ages, and situations.

Municipalities in some areas, including Seattle, require inspection of on-site sewage systems or septic tanks to ensure they meet state regulation standards for operation. This point of sale mandate, much like the sewer lateral mandate, is intended to protect the groundwater and the health of the local community, but it only applies to those home owners who are selling.

This often causes an uneven distribution of responsibility and cost. Consumers can already get their own septic inspection independently when they buy a home. The governing authority may truly believe that all sewer lines or septic systems need to be inspected regularly to promote healthy groundwater. If so, they should propose a policy for all residents’ systems to be inspected on a regular basis and let the community decide if they agree.

Full Home Inspections

Some of the most concerning mandates include some form of government-managed home inspection at the point of sale. These can create fines, repair requirements, and even loss of occupancy rights if they are not adhered to by the home owners.

In Marin County, Calif., home owners are subjected to resale inspections before they can close escrow on a sale. These inspections can call for remediation or charges for items which are not in line with current code or permitting. This often leads to current building standards being applied retroactively to work that was previously done without a permit but according to the building code as it was written at the time.

In Austin, Texas, an energy performance audit is required to be performed and delivered to the buyer before a closing. These pricey inspections must be paid for by the seller. They rate the home’s windows, insulation, ducting, HVAC equipment, and even appliances for energy efficiency and make suggestions to buyers for improvements. They can generate significant repair requests from buyers that can scuttle sales agreements.

In Berkeley, Calif., resale inspections are focused on energy improvements as well. Toilets, shower heads, faucets, water heaters, water lines, duct work, chimneys, insulation, and weather stripping are all required to meet city standards. The cost to the home owners can reach thousands of dollars in many cases.

Point Of Sale Mandates Taken To The Extreme

The Cleveland area has some of the most heavy-handed point of sale mandates that exist in the country. In at least 20 of the metro’s suburban cities, inspections must be done before selling, and in some cities even before the home owner enters into contract to sell their home. If the inspection finds code violations, they must be repaired by the home owners even if they decide not to sell.

The onerous nature of these inspections is exemplified by the city of Maple Heights’ mandate. When home owners receive their point of sale inspection report, if there are code violations, they are granted a 90-day temporary permit to occupy. The city has taken the authority to revoke the home owners’ occupancy rights if they don’t fix the violations within that time frame. Even if the sellers never received an offer from a buyer, they are required to make the repairs to the home at their own expense.

Home owners may have to fix basement floors, electrical wiring and outlets, lighting, hot water tanks, window screens, gutters, fences, or even a concrete slab with three or more cracks. There are more than 40 categories of potential violations which a city-approved inspector can call out for repairs. If sellers can’t finish the repairs before closing, they must put the money for the repairs into an escrow account managed by the city to ensure they will be done. The occupancy permit for the home is dependent upon it.

Sensible Policy For Point Of Sale

Home buyers certainly want their homes to be safe, but they need to be able to make their own decisions about asking sellers for repairs or doing repair work themselves. Some neighborhoods are full of homes built in the 1920s or earlier. These homes have many features that would be considered outdated to an inspector and inefficient by new energy standards, but are often perfectly acceptable to the buyers.

Forcing a person who has lived in a home for 50 years to upgrade all of its systems before selling to a buyer who would have been happy with its previous condition is inefficient and an overreach of authority. It creates a significant financial detriment to the participants in the transaction and to real estate values as a whole in that community.

Our focus through REALTOR® policy has been to continue to educate the public on important safety and energy concerns about their homes. We educate home buyers about energy efficiency options and costs. We implore our buyers to have home inspections and, where appropriate, specialized inspections for sewer lines, septic systems, etc. We’ve taken on the primary role in advising home buyers and sellers about the dangers of lead paint, mold, and other hazards.

We don’t need point of sale mandates from government agencies to make these ideas into costly blanket inspection requirements for all home owners. Buyers and sellers already have the opportunity to research relevant information about their homes, and make their own decisions as to what kinds of features are valuable and necessary to them.

Point of sale mandates, at their very core, are not an effective way to make policy. They put an inordinate weight on the small part of a community that happens to be selling a home that year, while others who stay in their homes for decades don’t share in the cost. We need to continue to educate our clients, as well as our politicians, that empowering home buyers and sellers to learn more about the safety and efficiency of their homes is a far better way to promote those values than adding roadblocks to the sale of their homes.

Sam DeBord is a director for Washington REALTORS® and Seattle King County REALTORS®, and managing broker with Coldwell Banker Danforth. Connect with his team, Seattle Homes Group, at and

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Dated Kitchens Get Long Overdue Makeovers


By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Dated kitchens are getting a makeover in many homes this year. About a quarter of about 3,500 home owners recently surveyed say they are remodeling kitchens that are more than 30 years old and another 41 percent are updating kitchens that are 16 to 30 years old. Wow, have styles changed in three decades too – when red oak cabinets, laminate countertops, and brass fixtures were “in.”

Here’s an interesting stat: Home owners seem to be more committed to their kitchen than their spouse. Most kitchens last two to four times longer than the typical U.S. marriage – which is 8 years, according to Houzz’s Kitchen Remodeling Survey. That means when home owners remodel a kitchen, they devote a lot of time to making sure it’s just right since they’ll likely stick with it for many years to come.

“We already know that kitchens are the biggest driver of discretionary spending in the remodeling market,” says Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. “As the economy has improved, many home owners who delayed spending on kitchen updates feel like they now have the means to remodel. We should continue to see an uptick in discretionary spending on home improvements into 2015.”

So, what are home owners’ kitchen renovation plans?

Classic finishes: Home owners mostly are sticking to the classics, with finishes like white cabinets (49 percent) in shaker (37 percent) or raised-panel (22 percent) styles. They’re also staying loyal to granite countertops (45 percent) and stainless steel appliances (83 percent).

Added storage: Ease of storage (65 percent) is a top priority driving remodeling trends. Organization features like a built-in pantry (44 percent), pull-out shelves (62 percent), deep cabinet organizers (38 percent), and built-in pet bowls (6 percent) are popular.

Entertainment spaces: An open-concept layout (52 percent), bar with seating (27 percent), and built-in wine storage (21 percent) are making kitchens a gathering place for family and friends.

Big makeovers with big dollars: When home owners choose to undergo a kitchen remodel, the majority are going big with projects requiring substantial construction (68 percent). As such, home owners are spending big too, with 36 percent planning to spend between $25,000 and $75,000 on updating their kitchens. More than half of home owners budget $25,000 or less for their upcoming remodels.

Complimenting the rest of the house: Home owners want their kitchens stylish and beautiful (59 percent), but they also want to make sure that the remodel integrates with the rest of the home too (55 percent). Other characteristics they say are important is that it is filled with natural light, adds to the resale value of their home, energy-efficient appliances, and pro-style cooking set-up.

Source: Houzz Kitchen Remodeling Survey, 2014

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Use Your Tweets Wisely


Bill Gassett

By Bill Gassett

So, you’ve finally joined Twitter. How do you know what to tweet about to maximize your time and energy on this rapid-fire platform? How often can you tweet without annoying people?

Your followers’ Twitter feeds moves at lighting speed, so it’s okay to post up to 10 times per day or more. Just don’t do all your postings at once, as this floods people’s feeds and is considered spamming. Spread your tweets out through the day and evening for maximum visibility. Switch up the types of posts so it doesn’t get too boring for your followers. Since you are a real estate professional, it’s expected that you’ll post about real estate topics much of the time. However, you can also tweet about other things that are interesting or helpful to your followers.

Here is a typical day’s worth of Twitter posts:

  • Post around five informative articles or interesting pictures/videos from around the web.
  • Re-tweet interesting posts from people you follow (see below for more on this).
  • Respond to a couple of tweets from others. This is especially effective if you can find people asking questions about real estate, and answer them.
  • Post personal comments about real estate or links to content you have written on your blog. It doesn’t have to be a recent piece, either. For example, here is an article about the inaccuracy of Zillow home value estimates. Most real estate agents are constantly explaining why a “Zestimate of value” should be ignored to both their buyer and seller clients. We all know how far off base Zillow can be! This is the kind of helpful information your followers will enjoy and gladly re-tweet. You can even add some humor into your tweets. Here’s a popular tweet I sent along with the blog link: “You have better odds of seeing Big Foot than an accurate Zillow estimate.”

Re-tweeting Other Real Estate Content

It is important to understand that you shouldn’t just broadcast your own content on Twitter. To be successful with Twitter and grow a following, you have to share others people’s content and engage with them. Keep in mind the social aspect of social media. When someone tweets your content, the best way to return the favor is to look over their profile and re-tweet something they have shared that you find interesting.

Follow Important People and Industry Leaders

Who you follow is just as important as who follows you. It gives you a chance to interact with people, build relationships, and perhaps even get a shout-out. Seek out local news anchors, hot-shot agents (besides yourself, of course), or anyone else you would love to mingle with. If you are lucky, they may even follow you back. You will also want to follow your past or present clients, other agents, mortgage brokers, builders, and anyone else with whom you want to build a connection.

Have Conversations

Twitter is absolutely a two-way street. It’s not just about getting your message out, but building lasting relationships. Whenever you are mentioned, reply. If you are new to Twitter, send out a quick thanks when you get a new follower. If you see something interesting in your Twitter feed, comment on it. It’s a pretty simple concept, yet it’s one that often gets ignored.

Manage Your Time

I often get questions from real estate agents such as, “How do you manage your time on social media?” or “How can I possibly be thinking about tweeting real estate articles if I am out selling houses and meeting with clients?” Time management is always an important consideration when it comes to social media. Fortunately, there are some great tools that can help you manage your time on Twitter. One of my favorite applications is Buffer. Buffer allows you to set what you want to tweet throughout the day on auto-pilot. You could schedule ten articles you want to share and Buffer will tweet them out for you.

Additional Twitter Tips and Advice:

Update Your Profile

When someone views your profile, they instantly form an opinion of you. Can they trust you? Are you a professional? Do they want to interact with you? Make sure that both your profile and header picture give the right first impression. You also get 160 characters to summarize who you are, so come up with something different and catchy that still makes your profession apparent.

Sure, you might gain some website traffic from people viewing your profile, but it is more likely that people will click on interesting blog posts that you share on Twitter (in moderation, of course). In addition, include the Twitter icon—linked to your profile—on your marketing materials, your email signature, and your website.

Add a Period

Did you know that if you start a tweet with someone’s Twitter handle, only that person (and people who follow both of you) will see your tweet? To get your comments to your entire fan base, put a period before the @ symbol if you’re beginning a tweet with someone’s profile name.

In summary, Twitter is all about making connections and staying relevant. As long as you are active on the site and really consider whether or not your tweets add value to your followers, you should be golden. Before long, you will notice an increase in website traffic, and you may even gain a client or two. If you are interested in learning more, read my previous post, “6 Twitter Rules for Real Estate Agents.” You will be a social superstar in no time!

Bill Gassett is a nationally-recognized real estate leader and one of the top RE/MAX salespeople in New England. See all his real estate articles at

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CES 2015: Why the Light Bulb May One Day be Your Favorite Staging Tool


By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine 

Photo Credit: Misfit, Bolt Wirelessly Connected Smart Bulb

Just flipping a light switch on your listings may not be showing the home in its best light, per se. Lighting matters greatly in the appearance of a home. Too dark? The space can look dingy and dreary. Too bright? The space can send a harsh, uninviting glare.

Proper lighting can go far in making a home feel warm and welcoming and even sometimes make a space feel larger. The 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show, this week in Las Vegas, buzzed about the coming of the “smart home,” but it’s the light bulb – or the “smart” bulb, we should say – that could be one of the most exciting in the smart-home front for real estate and staging professionals.

These bulbs allow you to set a certain mood with the lights, creating lighting presentations, and even possibly adding extra security and some music too.

Photo Credit: Misfit, Bolt Wirelessly Connected Smart Bulb

At CES, Misfit, a company co-founded by former Apple CEO John Sculley, showed off its new Bolt Wirelessly Connected Smart Bulb. With swipes of an app on your iOS or Android-powered smartphone, you instantly can change a home’s lighting, having at your fingertips the potential to create millions of color combinations to make sure the lighting is just right. You can personalize with lightscapes, such as a lighting scenario for a room that mimics sunset at dusk. At $50, the bulb is much pricier than your typical light bulb but it’s an LED bulb with a life of 23 hours and it does mark a much lower price that is coming to the smart bulb arena. It requires no extra wiring to use. You literally just screw it into a lamp or ceiling and connect it to a smartphone to start playing with your lights.

Smart bulbs also may mean you never have to worry about flipping a switch again. You’ll no longer have to worry about arriving at a listing early to make sure all the lights are turned on. Stack Lighting’s Alba LED lights, $60, is a flood light that can be set to come on automatically as you step into the room. The lights also can be set to dim automatically to provide the ideal levels of brightness throughout the day – also helping to save on energy costs compared to standard LED lights. You can also control the lights from your phone, adjusting the color from a warm orange to a cooler blue tone, depending on the setting you want to create.

If you’re going to set the right mood with your lights, you may want to add some soft music to the background too. Your light bulb may be able to one day do that too. Sony showed off a prototype at CES of its “Symphonic Light Speaker,” which is a WiFi-connected light bulb with a built-in speaker. You can stream audio from your smartphone and tablet to several of the speaker-equipped light fixtures. No speaker elements are shown, and you may never guess that the light in the home is the one supplying the music.

Photo Credit: Sengled Snap Bulb

The smart light bulb may also offer extra security to your listing. Sengled Snap Bulb, a CES 2015 Innovation award winner, are LED light bulbs that contain speakers, microphone, and a motion sensor, allowing you to stream video to your smartphone. You can see who is standing on the front porch. No extra wiring is needed, and you could easily take it from listing to listing if looking for an extra security feature. Sengled’s Snap Bulb, $199, will be available in the spring of 2015.

4 Ways to Enhance the Lighting in Your Listing

Smart bulbs are still in their infancy and manufacturers are continuing to develop new models. Until then, what can you do you to improve the lighting in your listing with the bulbs you already have? Here are some stagers’ tips:

  • Add mirrors. You can use mirrors to bounce light, help making a home look brighter as well as possibly even making the walls look taller.
  • Watch the wattage of your bulbs. Always use the highest possible wattage in a room (except the bathroom where a 30-watt bulb may help create more welcoming, softer light settings).
  • Don’t just rely on overhead lights. Soften the look with wall sconces and decorative lamps too. Also, remove draperies to allow natural light to flow in.
  • Use clear light bulbs. Clear light bulbs can offer a cleaner look over opaque ones, stagers say. Avoid mismatching your bulb types, wattages, and color temperatures so the room is properly illuminated.

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At CES 2015: More Attempts to Dethrone Stainless Steel’s Popularity


By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Stainless steel’s popularity has outshined its competition for years in kitchen appliances, but has that shiny, smudge-prone finish finally worn out its welcome?

Appliance manufacturers have long been trying to find a potential successor to stainless steel, but none have yet to find one to top its popularity. But two companies are giving it another chance with showcases at the 2015 Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas this week.

Appliance giant Whirlpool and LG are showing off new appliance finishes — with Whirlpool betting on gold and LG debuting a glassy black.

Photo Credit: Whirlpool

Whirlpool is introducing Sunset Bronze appliances to its lineup — a range of warm, golden hue appliances that can fit into contemporary or existing kitchens. The color is an attempt to capture on the latest popularity of rose gold in interior decors. It’s not a complete verge from the stainless steel look, however. Sunset Bronze is a painted version of traditional stainless steel with a blend of gold, copper, and bronze tones.

Photo Credit: LG

Meanwhile, LG is showing off a new take on black finishes. At CES this week, LG debuts a glass-front refrigerator finish called Contour Glass. The refrigerator features tempered glass over a black patterned finish that is a chic, yet smudge-proof way, to enhance kitchens. The finish is featured on LG’s new door-in-door refrigerators, which offer hidden compartments for extra storage behind the front door to hold condiments and drinks.

Will these smudge-proof finishes offer a convincing enough, stylish alternative to stainless?

“The kitchen is fast becoming a new canvas when it comes to home design and décor,” says John Hall, senior brand manager at Whirlpool. “More and more, consumers seek ways to customize their spaces with new paint colors, different countertops and backsplashes, mixing and matching cabinetry, and colored small appliances.”

In 2012, Whirlpool had introduced White Ice and Black Ice finishes to its products lineup in its first attempt to to provide an alternative to stainless’ popularity. The color failed to catch on, though. Other manufacturers have tried as well, such as General Electric’s low-gloss slate gray finish. (Read our previous blog post on the topic: Will Stainless Steel’s Popularity Ever be Dethroned?)

What do you think? Do you think stainless steel stands a chance of being outshined in the kitchen any time soon?

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5 Simple Life Hacks to Boost Experience


Sam DeBord

By Sam DeBord

Real estate rookies can really kick start their learning experience by picking up some simple shortcuts from those who’ve been selling for many years.  These are just a few of the real estate “hacks” I’ve learned over the years from seasoned practitioners that improved my experience and knowledge in simple yet effective ways.

1. Know the Concierge

Do you know every building and subdivision in your city like the back of your hand?  I’ve sold all over Seattle for many years, but there are more than 1,000 condo buildings in the metro area.  You can’t possibly know them all well.

©clarita, 2008. Morguefile

If you’re going to show a buyer a condo in a building where you’re not an expert, get a boost for your experience and your image by previewing or showing up 30 minutes early to talk to the concierge. Find out where the amenities are and tour the unit, but also get the concierge’s name. When your client arrives, you can stroll in together and greet the concierge with, “Hi Tony, good to see you again, we’re headed up to see the pool.”  You’ve already done the research to be prepared for your client, so you might as well add that splash of “in-the-know” to your appearance.

Of course, the same applies to knowing the security guard at a gated community, the marina manager at a houseboat community, or any other gatekeeper to a property you intend to show.

2. Point Out the Negatives Right Away

Consumers who don’t know us aren’t sure they can fully trust us at first. With new clients, they may be concerned that your goal is to sell them whichever home you can get them into as quickly as possible.

Show them that you’re a trustworthy source of information by not focusing solely on the positive selling aspects of a home, especially at your initial meetings. By pointing out the drawbacks of the home they’re touring right away, they’ll develop trust for your opinions and realize you’re not all about the sale.

I’ve had numerous clients thank me after our very first showing, because I started out with an analysis of the home’s weaknesses instead of a sales pitch. Have you ever pointed out that “ocean breeze” sound that you can hear from the master bedroom (freeway noise)? They love it. If you let clients understand upfront that you’re there to help them buy a home, as opposed to sell them a home, they will have have long-term loyalty.

3. Keys in the Back Pocket

This one is a bit silly, but still practical. Have you ever arrived at the fifth house on an eight home tour and found an extra set of house keys in your possession? Buyer tours can be complex, and sometimes agents make the mistake of setting keys down or putting them away quickly when they’re trying to pay attention to their clients. It rarely happens, but when it does it’s an embarrassing and time consuming mistake.

You’ll probably never drive away with someone else’s keys if they’re in your back pocket and you have to sit on them. Even better, put the whole key compartment from the keybox in your back pocket if it fits. It will be a constant reminder that the house isn’t secure until you’ve put it back, and even the most distracted agent won’t be able to sit on it and drive away (apologies to those whose fashion style doesn’t permit the use of pockets).

4. Spend Time Investing in Your Local REALTOR® Board

Think you know what’s happening in your local real estate market? Working with buyers and sellers is just the tip of the iceberg. Listen in on a meeting of your local board’s government affairs, business practices, or MLS issues meetings. You’ll realize how much more is going on behind the scenes.

Understanding the big picture issues of real estate that your REALTOR® board is dealing with every day will build your knowledge quickly. Joining a committee can give you the extra confidence and subject material to discuss these kinds of topics with clients. You can show them that you have unique industry knowledge as well as the ability to sell their homes.

Consumers view any management title you hold with your REALTOR® board as a sign that you’re a leader in the community, and you can climb that ladder quickly if you’re willing to put in the time.

5. Suit Up

Appropriate business attire can vary widely in real estate. If you’re comfortable and successful in your business already, you can wear whatever you like. If you’re newer to the business and hoping to look more experienced, though, don’t give in to the ego trip that says, “I’m going to look how I always look and people can take me for who I am.” This isn’t your high school drama club, it’s a tough business where the majority of agents aren’t particularly successful. Consumers want to play with a winner, and if you look and act like someone who is successful, they will be more inclined to believe you are.

If you know that your image will improve with more professional business attire, then buck up and wear it like your income depends on it–because it does. This doesn’t mean you need to go buy the latest sports car and Armani suit. Just don’t give in to the laziness that says, “I’ll clean out my car next week,” or “I don’t feel like putting on a jacket today.” To this day I wear a suit to every initial meeting with a client, no matter their age or style.  You’re always safer overdressed than underdressed.

Sam DeBord is managing broker of Seattle Homes Group with Coldwell Banker Danforth, and a state director for Washington REALTORS®. You can find his team at and

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Reveal to Your Clients the ‘Ugly Truths’ When Staging


By Audra Slinkey, Home Staging Resource

Sometimes you have to give clients a big dose of reality, and it isn’t always pretty – particularly when you’re talking about something personal like the condition of their home. But don’t be afraid to utter the “ugly truths” to maximize your sellers’ chances of selling a home and for top dollar.

Here are some of the ugly truths you may need to be prepared to talk about:

Ugly Truth #1: The ugly truth is that anyone who has watched the real estate market over the last few years knows there’s no such thing as a “set price” for a home. The price is determined by what the buyer is willing to pay AND the buyer likely is willing to pay a lot more for a “model home” look.

Ugly Truth #2: Another ugly truth is that when it comes to home staging, you get what you pay for. This means that the more a seller is willing to pay to transform their home (using an expert stager’s advice), the more they stand to get out of the sale.

BEFORE – Photo credit: Designed to Appeal,

AFTER – Photo credit: Designed to Appeal,

Ugly Truth #3: Finally, the last ugly truth is that buyers cannot see past a seller’s furnishings to the potential of the home. Look at the before photo …would you be able to imagine it as beautiful as the after photos?

BEFORE – Photo Credit: Designed to Appeal,

AFTER – Photo credit: Designed to Appeal,

You only need to look at the before-and-after photos of this home to know why they got so much more than they were even asking. This seller’s agent walked them through the “cost of not staging” and let them decide. Do you think they made the right decision?

If you’re a real estate agent who struggles with getting your seller’s onboard and committed to the sales process, you may want to share with them this article … pictures always speak louder than words.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Audra Slinkey is president of the Home Staging Resource, a RESA Accredited home staging training and certification company. Slinkey has personally trained over 3,000 stagers worldwide and is a bestselling author and international speaker. She also serves as president of the American Society of Home Stagers and Redesigners. Connect with her on Facebook!

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What Being a Leader Really Means


Wade Corbett

By Wade Corbett

Over this past year I have had the amazing privilege and fortune to participate in the North Carolina Association of REALTORS® Leadership Academy. I have reflected over months on the true meaning of leadership and honestly, I have yet to come up with a definitive description. I cannot say what being a leader is, but I can say without a doubt what being a leader is not.

Being a leader is not about you. Those who become leaders because of a desire for glory or for public recognition are not true leaders. These are the types of people who will stop leading when it stops being convenient. As past NAR President Charles McMillian taught me earlier this year, being a leader is not always convenient. Leading your association, community, church, family, etc. is not easy and it doesn’t always fit into your planned schedule. Sometimes you may have hardships in your life while also having to lead.

Being a leader is not about being at the top of the pyramid. This is something I never comprehended until this year, but some of the best leaders are those who never rise to the highest position of power. I have always had a “rise-to-the-top” personality. But I now understand that me being at the top is not always what’s best for the organization I’m involved in. I learned from the eleven other people in my leadership class (The Best Class Ever) that we are all different types of leaders. There is a time to lead and there is a time to follow other leaders. Following does not mean that you’re subservient to anyone. It only means that you lead from below and help those who happen to be at the top.

Being a leader is not about building on your accomplishments, but contributing to the cause. Kim Dawson, NCAR’s president-elect, taught me that we are each just one piece of a much larger puzzle. Many people believe they are the whole puzzle and that being a leader in an organization is a piece of their puzzle. You are only one piece of the puzzle in the organization you are leading. If you do not have this mind-set, sit back and ask yourself: Why am I a leader?

As REALTORS®, there are a lot of changes facing us on the horizon, particularly NAR’s new Core Standards taking effect in 2015. You need to step up at your local, state, and national association to become part of the leaders of tomorrow. Join your local YPN and volunteer for association committees. Who knows; maybe you’ll become the president of NAR one day! Not that that’s what leadership is about. But it is fun thing to dream about!

If you have any questions about how to get involved in on the local, state or national level, please email me directly at

Wade Corbett is a REALTOR® with RE/MAX Southland Realty in Garner, North Carolina. Connect with him at or

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