Realtor Deb Staley has seen it a million times. She pulls up to an open house at a fabulous property, in a great neighborhood, at the right price, only to find an overgrown lawn, a leaf-strewn front porch and a front door covered in spiderwebs. In fact, it’s not uncommon for potential buyers to be so turned off by an initial view that they refuse to even exit the car. “I have been a real estate broker for 22 years, and I am still amazed every time I show a house that is not ready for the market, says Staley, who’s based in Searcy, Ark.
We never get a second chance to make a first impression, and for motivated sellers a first impression of their home can often make or break a
deal. Realtors know that a potential sale starts in the moment that a buyer pulls into the driveway. That’s why they take extra care to prep and ready the homes they represent just prior to an open house — and we mean minutes before.
Whether you’re helping out your Realtor or handling the sale yourself, here’s how to make the most of an open house.
1. Lighten up

Nothing helps a house like natural light, so in the moments before an open house pull back the drapes, open the blinds and let the sunlight in, says Sean Shallis, senior real estate strategist for The Shallis Group. As you’re completing your walk-through, turn on the lights in every room (including bathrooms and closets). That will allow potential buyers to see clearly and it creates a welcoming, open feel to the home.
2. Clean up

Spotlessis the word to remember. It sounds simple, but many people forget that even the smallest mess can throw off a potential buyer. Do a quick walk-through before the open house and make sure that kitchen and bathroom counters are cleared and wiped. Toss any extra clutter lying around. Dirty laundry? Purses? Books? Toys? Throw them under the bed or in a dedicated space in the garage. Just keep clutter away from buyers’ eyes.
3. Enhance curb appeal

Never underestimate the power of curb appeal. That means making sure that the front of the house is bright and welcoming. For Staley, it’s as simple as a last-minute sweep of the front porch and driveway, and a quick look for spiderwebs or dirt at any windows that flank the entrance. “As a Realtor, it is such a pleasure to walk in the front door of a home that says, ‘Welcome! Come on in!’ as soon as you walk up the sidewalk,” she adds.
4. Set the scene

Even an immaculate home can up its “wow” factor with small touches in the minutes before an open house. Soft music and a well-set dining room table can warm up the house and help buyers picture themselves living there. Something that won’t? Pets. Staley, a self-proclaimed animal-lover, is quick to remind her clients that not everyone feels the same way. Make sure pets are securely locked away or, even better, out for a long walk.
5. Get out of the house

If you’re working with a Realtor, almost every agent will tell you the same thing: It’s never a good idea for the seller to be home during an open house. So find a way to leave the house before buyers arrive. If you’re selling your home yourself, be aware of what you say to potential buyers during a showing. There’s no need to spew every detail about the house unless the buyers ask. In fact, Shallis suggests, have a friend or family member show the home. “As the owner, it’s almost impossible not to oversell your home,” he says.
Though they may seem basic, it’s little details in the eleventh hour that can make a difference in the speed of the sale and, ultimately, the final selling price. “Dirty, dark, cluttered homes can sell,” says Staley. “But if they are brightened, lightened, cleaned, and decluttered with some sense of pride of ownership displayed, they will sell for so much more.”
No Copyright Infringement intended.

14 tips for furnace and fireplace safetyBeware of the ‘silent killer’

By Bill and Kevin Burnett
Inman News™
Q: Our house was built around 1940; the fireplace is original; and we installed forced-air gas heating about 10 years ago. We haven’t had the fireplace or furnace inspected. What do you guys recommend to get the fireplace and the furnace ready for winter?

A: Regular inspection and servicing of fireplaces and furnaces adds to comfort, makes them more economical, and most important, keeps them safe. Regular inspections can prevent a deadly house fire or the introduction of a silent killer: carbon monoxide.

Here’s our checklist to keep you cozy and safe during the winter months:

Wood-burning fireplaces

1. Inspection by a certified chimney sweep is a must. For heavy use, the chimney should be inspected and cleaned annually. Go up to five years if the fireplace is used only occasionally. The sweep should inspect for proper operation of the damper and for cracks in the flue liner, as well as sweeping the flue to remove creosote and other combustion byproducts.

2. Close the damper when the fireplace isn’t in use.

3. Install a chimney cap if you don’t already have one. You don’t want creatures building their nest in your flue.

4. When starting a fire, “prime” the flue by holding lighted newspaper at the back wall of the firebox to start the warm air rising.

5. Burn aged, dry hardwood if possible. Fir or pine burns hot and deposits creosote in the chimney. Don’t burn construction debris. It may contain toxic chemicals that will vaporize in the fire and could enter the living space.

6. Do not clean out the fireplace when the ashes are still hot. And dispose of the ashes in a place where wayward embers won’t start a fire.

Fireplace with gas starter

1. If the flame goes out, wait at least five minutes before attempting to relight the fireplace. This allows time to clear the fireplace of gas.

2. Be alert for unusual odors or odd-colored flames, which are often a sign that the fireplace is not operating properly. In such cases, contact your dealer or licensed technician for servicing. Contact the gas company if you smell gas when the unit is off.

Gas furnace maintenance

1. An annual maintenance check of a gas furnace extends the life of the appliance and ferrets out any hidden problems. A qualified heating contractor should vacuum out the unit, inspect the blower motor, inspect the heat exchanger for cracks, check the electronics and perform a multipoint checklist to make sure the furnace is operating properly.

2. Clean or replace the furnace filter frequently during the heating season. This ensures that air returning from the inside of the house is unobstructed and clean when entering the combustion chamber.

3. Keep vents, space heaters and baseboards clear of furniture, rugs and drapes to allow free air movement.

4. Ensure there is free airflow around your furnace and make sure there are no storage items obstructing airflow.

5. Do not store or use combustible materials, such as chemicals, paint, rags, clothing, draperies, paper, cleaning products, gasoline, or flammable vapors and liquids in the vicinity of the furnace.

6. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and lethal gas that can occur any time there is incomplete combustion or poor venting. Any home that contains fuel-burning appliances, such as a fireplace or furnace, should have a carbon monoxide alarm installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

How To Fry A Turkey- The Secret Is In The Preparation


There is little in contemporary business that deals on more equity than your business reputation. Stock prices fluctuate because it, and the media tipping point is reached at alarming speed for either good and bad praise or hostility about companies globally. The first step to managing your online business reputation is to be able to monitor what is being said about you, by whom and how often. If it’s all good, it’s all good friends. Business worldwide both large and small battle every day using the double-edged, sword of Web power. You should know about the poison comments too, and of course, if nothing is being said about your business online, well, that is a problem in and of itself.

Good or Evil?
From a marketing perspective, we have the capability to reach more people in remote corners of the world than ever before, making use of the awesome reach of the Internet to connect with our blogs, videos, and shopping carts that have no physical limitations. The flip side of that coin is that we now inhabit a world where anonymous people can go for their 15 minutes of fame as impromptu authors, video producers and critics, and that can spell trouble for your organization.
Google, Yahoo and other search engines give huge credibility to sites like Wikipedia in the spirit of full disclosure, especially on big business. Trouble is, fact checking ain’t what it used to be if indeed it happens at all. Loud online voices offering great buzz on your goods and services can provide a fantastic bump even if unjustified by reality. Bully for you! The impact of spiteful haters can cost you prospects, customers and dollars to an incredible extent also.
The Most Common Keyword in Modern Business

What do you think is the most often used keyword today in business? This isn’t a trick question or a gag. It is in fact the word, “keyword”. Think about it. There is so much guidance about SEO and online marketing that focuses on how people browse the web, in particular, Google. That means controlling what keywords you use to advertise your website and be found, trying to mirror what people are searching for and in a unique enough way to minimize competition. Subsequently we have long tail keywords which are phrases like “How to winterize your boat” so that when someone does eventually look for that, our page or Adwords ad is right there to be discovered.

To keep track of your online reputation, keywords are also what you use to determine who and what is being said about you. The easy way to do this initially is obviously to Google your company name. You’re going to find your web pages to be sure, but if there is bad stuff available you’re going to see that too. If it falls on page 1 of Google returns, you have a developing situation.
Remembering to do that weekly or every few days is something that just isn’t top of mind. Here are three devices you can use to easily check out the real-time babble.

Google Alerts
Google alerts enable you to pick keywords relative to, in this case, your business name and Google will email you instances when they occur online as indexed by the Google search engine. Go to to set this up. Depending on the size and online notoriety of your company, you can modify the frequency of these email alerts from daily to weekly. There are a couple of refining options. Choosing type = ‘Everything’ will monitor all the buzz about whatever keywords you type in, comma delimited. For most small businesses, a weekly notification should be adequate.
Here are some points for what you might want to check to see what your customers might find:
• Your business name, including any divisions or alternative names as it applies
• Your competitors
• Frequent misspellings of your business name
• Your flagship product names, part numbers and trade names
• Your key executive names– bad juju on your top people will reflect badly on your business

Social Oomph
Google Alerts keeps track of the Google database. Social Oomph ( allows you to track tweets. You should create a free account and then go to Monitors\/Keyword Alert Emails on the left hand menu. You are allowed to set up to 50 keywords or phrases to scour the tweet-o-sphere for and email you summaries either daily or every twelve hours.
The keyword tips are the same as for Google Alerts. The cool thing about monitoring Twitter chatter is that it has a very real-time component to it. If hostility is being spread, you may have the ability to join the ongoing discussion and correct the record or counter the conversation when it is at its most poisonous and influential to your business reputation.

LinkedIn Signal
Signal is a tool currently under development by LinkedIn in conjunction with Twitter, using a similar search on discussions groups, shares and posted answers. Access it by logging into LinkedIn and going to This is a bit cumbersome with the filters and for most results, look up your name and company without the filters box selected. This is especially useful for product launches or branding efforts you might have to see if there is a buzz on LinkedIn among professionals. Unfortunately the search box appears to have no Boolean capability to add multiple search words separated by commas or expressions like’ +’ or ‘OR’.

If you’re in the consulting or professional services field this may be one where you save your searches and check periodically back, as these are folks who traffic LinkedIn. This is still in beta and isn’t significantly advertised by LinkedIn, and has a limited universe of professionals (those in LinkedIn who allow public view of their discussions) and will tell you more about trending topics than give you an overall analysis about what is being said relating to your business. I’d recommend playing with it to see if it is useful to you, but use the alerts in Google and Social Oomph to monitor the bulk of chatter.

by Karl Walinskas

Your Marketing can be more like a vending machine than a slot machine, watch this learn how today:

money Make More Money & Work Much Less!I am temporarily motivated to be permanently lazy! That means I am willing to work my butt off now so that I can chill out a few years from now. Here’s how I see my life: spending time with my family, going on exotic vacations, getting up when I’m done sleeping, golfing when everyone else is working, and just living and loving life…doing all this while making more money and working much less.

If any of what I want makes sense to you, then keep reading. I can honestly tell you that you deserve to have all that you want and more.  I’m going to share some insights I’ve discovered that you can immediately start manifesting your dreams and desires while using much less energy.

You must stay focused: Start every day with clearly defined goals and avoid personal conflict. There are so many distractions around us at all times that staying focused will be challenging. With TV, facebook, skype, emails, and other common distractions, it is becoming more and more challenging to stay focused on how to make more money and work less right now more than ever before.

By having clearly defined goals you will be able to get more done in less time. This will greatly increase your focus and as a result you will not have to put so much effort into getting tasks done.

Exercise Daily: Make it routine to exercise daily! This does not mean that you have to hit the gym everyday but make sure you are getting some form of physical activity. A healthy body will create a healthy mind. Try to work in some yoga once or twice a week also. Yoga will prove to be an invaluable way to center yourself and find inner harmony and balance.

Personal Development: I tell everyone I coach that personal development is MANDATORY. If we aren’t challenging ourselves to grow and expand our minds, then we do the opposite…shrink and die. No less than 20 minutes of personal development everyday! This can be in the form of books, audio books, videos, podcasts etc. Just make sure you do it. For me, when time is a factor, I have audio books I listen to while I’m driving from place to place. This way while I’m sitting in traffic doing nothing, I’m listening to empowering and inspirational materials and growing mentally, spiritually and emotionally. If you’ve read Think and Grow Rich you understand that personal growth is one of the oldest secrets to success.

By focusing we can have a clear blueprint for action daily. By exercising we center ourselves physically and get stronger, by engaging in personal development we challenge ourselves to think outside our current realm of understanding. All of these factors will contribute to your goal to make more money and work less. Now to the really fun stuff…enjoying life!

Schedule time for yourself: Always schedule time to do what YOU like to do…and do it on a daily basis. This doesn’t mean blowing off everything else I previously mentioned. It does mean that you need to reward yourself daily for setting and accomplishing your goals. This is creating a win-win for your self. Reward yourself by playing that round of golf, or taking your family to their favorite restaurant. Just make sure to DO IT!

Now go get to work!!!


No copyright Infringement intended. Source: Make More Money – Work Less!

7 Ideas to Move Your Listings

Selling real estate in today’s market requires more than knowledge and a go-get-‘em attitude. Successful real estate professionals are willing to use creative strategies when representing sellers, even if that means trying something new. Here are seven ideas that may be just what you need to move your latest listing.

Dress up the signage. Make sure buyers can see your sign after dark by investing in solar-powered lighting. Include a QR code on each sign so potential buyers can scan it with their smartphones and get more information — pictures, video, a full list of amenities — about the property. A Talking House radio transmitter will let passersby listen to a home’s features from the comfort of their cars. Simply post a sign that lets them know how to tune in.  Even better, have a lead capture 800# with a recorded message about the home.

Practice Feng Shui. We all know that home staging is an important part of the home selling process, but it doesn’t have to stop at fresh paint and potted plants. Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese practice of balancing the energy (chi) of a space for optimal harmony, could help too. Check out for resources.

Host a party. Take the idea of an open house one step further and hold an open house party. Offer wine, hors d’oeuvres and live music. The time and effort put into this could pay off when you create a buzz about the property.

Create a better informational flyer. Yes, potential buyers appreciate the one-page flyer listing the home’s details and amenities. But what about all of the nearby conveniences? Include local shopping centers, schools, hospitals, fire stations, restaurants, parks and other attractions as way to showcase more of the home’s benefits.

Offer extras. You can offer a pricey, luxury item like a flat screen TV, or more practical incentives, like a furniture allowance, flooring allowance, a year’s worth of yard care or a year’s worth of HOA fees. Offer a referral incentive — say, a $200 gift card — to the friend and colleague who helps you find a buyer.

Harness technology. Listing the house on the local MLS and your website is a good start, but try other online tactics. Purchase online ads to display on Google or Facebook (the sites have tutorials that make it easy to set up an ad campaign). You have free options, too: Tweet photos of the property to your Twitter followers and encourage them to retweet.

Let them sleep on it. It may sound like a radical move, but some sellers allow serious buyers to spend the night in their home. It’s perhaps the best way to give them the experience of actually living there. It may not be feasible in all selling situations, but for others, it might just close the sale.

3 Amazing New Tools for your Work Smart Be Smart System:

Always know your to-do’s for the day with the Agenda Assistant

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Eliminate Duplicates with the Duplicate Finder

Ideas for Your Real Estate Blog

  1. Metro Area Quarterly Market reports
  2. Neighborhood Market Reports / Sales Data
  3. How’s the Market in XYZ Neighborhood?
  4. Local Adsorption Rates
  5. Most expensive recent sales in XYZ neighborhood or town
  6. “Dream” homes for sale in XYZ neighborhood or city
  7. Celebrity home sales
  8. Home buyer incentives
  9. Interest rate changes (or forecasted changes)
  10. Changes in current legislation (that would be important to home buyers or home owners)
  11. Case Schiller monthly affordability index (i.e. “Is it a good time to buy or invest?”)
  12. Why Buyers and Sellers need a real estate professional
  13. Just Listed home
  14. Just Sold home
  15. Under Contract home
  16. Success Stories (i.e. Toot your own horn!)
  17. Marketing Tips – Promoting your business and listings on Facebook
  18. Marketing Tips – Using new technology to promote your listing… or your business
  19. Deal of the Week (highlight best buys in your area)
  20. Subdivision of the Week (use lots of photos and/or video!)
  21. Neighborhood of the Week
  22. Condominium Complex of the Week
  23. Townhome Community of the Week
  24. Loft of the Week
  25. Thursday (or Tuesday) Townhome Tours
  26. Freebie Friday
  27. Weekend Festivals and Events
  28. Weekend FREE Events & Things to Do
  29. 10 Things to Consider When Buying a Condo
  30. 10 Things to Consider When Buying Your First Home
  31. 10 Things to Consider When Buying a Short Sale
  32. 10 Things to Consider When Buying a Foreclosure Home
  33. For Buyers – 10 Reasons Why to Buy a Home this Year
  34. For Buyers – 5 Mistakes that First-Time Home Buyers Make
  35. For Buyers – What Expenses to Expect When Purchasing your Home or Condo
  36. For Buyers – Tips for Interviewing a REALTOR
  37. For Buyers – The importance of hiring a home inspector
  38. For Buyers – Improving your credit score / preparing for homeownership
  39. For Buyers – Checklist for home ownership
  40. For Buyers – Find the best deal on a home (not just the foreclosed home)
  41. For Buyers – Financing options (Conventional Loans, FHA, 403b Streamline, HomePath, etc)
  42. For Buyers – Minimum credit score requirements for Conventional and FHA Loans
  43. For Buyers – Investing in your first property
  44. For Sellers – Tips for Interviewing a REALTOR
  45. For Sellers – Avoiding foreclosure
  46. For Sellers – Staging your home to sell
  47. For Sellers – Pricing your home to sell
  48. For Sellers – What NOT to do when selling your home
  49. For Sellers – Removing pets and pet supplies when showing your home
  50. For Sellers – Preparing the FRONT of your home for sale (clean windows, doors, lights, etc)
  51. For Sellers – 10 Most important marketing tools when selling your home
  52. For Sellers – De-personalize your home before putting it on the market
  53. For Sellers – Home improvements that will increase the value of your property
  54. For Sellers – The benefit of a pre-inspection
  55. For Sellers – Is this the right time to sell your home?
  56. For Sellers – Why isn’t my home selling?
  57. For Sellers – Before and After Staging Photos
  58. For Sellers / Listing Agents – The importance of using a professional photographer
  59. For Homeowners – Reminders to apply for Homestead Exemption (in Georgia)
  60. For Homeowners – Updates on County or City Property Taxes and Milage Rates
  61. For Homeowners – Going Green
  62. For Homeowners – Rebates on energy-efficient items for the home
  63. For Homeowners – Landscaping tips and tricks
  64. For Homeowners – Household repair tips, tricks and reminders
  65. For Homeowners – Resources for home owners in distress (i.e. short sales, foreclosure, deed in lieu of foreclosure, etc)
  66. Popular Atlanta Real Estate BlogGoing Green – 10 Ways to green your home interior
  67. Going Green – 10 Ways to be green at the office
  68. Going Green – 10 ways to green your home’s exteriors
  69. Going Green – 10 ways to save energy
  70. Going Green – Local green companies
  71. Going Green – Area green events (i.e. document shredding, fundrasing)
  72. Going Green – Places you can recycle electronics, computers, light bulbs in your community
  73. Going Green – Where to get the best green stuff for your home
  74. Personal Finance – New credit card rules
  75. Personal Finance – Check your credit score for free!
  76. Personal Finance – 529 College Plans
  77. Personal Finance – Tips to Improve your credit score
  78. Hyper-Local – 101 Reasons Why I Love My Town or Neighborhood
  79. Hyper-Local – Neighborhood of the Week
  80. Hyper-Local – Suburb of the Week
  81. Hyper-Local – Things to do in your neighborhood (parks, playgrounds, etc)\
  82. Hyper-Local -Highlight a local business in your neighborhood
  83. Hyper-Local -Promote a special event in your neighborhood
  84. Hyper-Local -Promote a special person in your neighborhood who is committed to helping others
  85. Hyper-Local – A tour of your neighborhood (using photos or video)
  86. Hyper-Local – Restaurant Reviews (with food photos)
  87. Hyper-Local – New locally-owned restaurants or shops
  88. Hyper-Local – Local farmer’s markets
  89. Hyper-Local – New companies moving to your town / employment opportunities
  90. Hyper-Local – Animal Shelters & Rescues (highlight a special pup!)
  91. Hyper-Local – Heliports and small landing fields for jets (great for the luxury market!)
  92. Hyper-Local – Consignment / Yard Sales
  93. Hyper-Local – Get outside!  Hiking trails, bike paths, and parks
  94. Hyper-Local – Volunteer opportunities
  95. Hyper-Local – Offerings at the local library
  96. Hyper-Local – Best Happy Hour
  97. Hyper-Local – Best Golf Courses (and rates!)
  98. Hyper-Local – Best BBQ / Ice Cream / Steaks / Margaritas
  99. Hyper-Local – Local Businesses I Love – feature one a week (i.e. favorite parks, charities, city leaders, restaurants, etc)
  100. Schools – Sporting eventsAtlanta top schools
  101. Schools – Sports – Game Scores
  102. Schools – School supply lists
  103. Schools – Accolades (top schools, recent awards)
  104. Schools – Top Elementary Schools in XYZ
  105. Schools – Top Middle Schools in XYZ
  106. Schools – Top High Schools in XYZ County
  107. Schools – Top Private Schools in XYZ
  108. About Me – Interesting Real Estate Experiences (i.e. whining, complaining, ranting – LOL)
  109. About Me – Personal hobby updates
  110. About Me – 10 Things that set me apart from the competition
  111. About Me – 10 Things about me that most people don’t know
  112. About Me – Book recommendations
  113. About Me – Family updates (birth announcements, 50th Birthday, new puppy, etc)
  114. About Me / Personal — Tribute after loss of a co-worker, client or colleague
  115. Contests – Monthly photo contests
  116. Contests – Best garden or yard in XYZ neighborhood or subdivision
  117. Contests – Partner with a local restaurant and offer monthly coupons on your blog post
  118. Seniors – Things to do
  119. Seniors – Local Resources
  120. Seniors – Popular communities, condos, townhomes
  121. Coupons / Discounts – Offer a weekly or monthly coupon to a local business
  122. New in town?  10 things you MUST do in your first 30 days
  123. New in town?  Important phone numbers and service providers
  124. New in town?  Popular neighborhoods and/or schools
  125. New in town?  Hot spots for dining and night life