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Home Buyers: Here’s Why I’m YOUR Expert!

Buying a home is one of the biggest and likely most $$EXPENSIVE$$ purchases you will make in your life. As a REALTOR®, I do NOT take that lightly and want to ensure that I can represent my clients in the best way possible by being knowledgable and experienced. To ensure that I can be YOUR home buying expert, I completed a designation course to become an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®). In order to become an ABR®, a REALTOR® must complete training that is specialized in understanding a home buyer’s perspective and promoting and protecting the buyer’s interest. 

While through experience and time as a REALTOR® you learn the ins and outs of representing a home buyer, this ABR® designation teaches you so much more. I joined a network of ABR® designees across the nation and we worked in groups on scenarios and how to better help our home buyers. I also took an additional course on New Home Construction to help assist my buyers that are looking to possibly build instead of buy and learned building process from beginning to end. I am here to help my buyers make informed decisions! 

So what can I do for you as an ABR®? I can assist you…

  • With needs and wants, and locate properties appropriate for buyer’s specifications
  • Help determine budget (pre-qualify)
  • Accompany in showing properties
  • Assisting in creating offer
  • Negotiation strategy for home buying
  • Vendor referrals (inspector, lenders, etc.)
  • Buying process from beginning to end in transaction – to closing and after!

All buyer’s representatives are NOT EQUAL! With my knowledge as an experience agent and as an agent that has earned the Accredited Buyer’s Representative designation, I have made the extra effort to raise the bar with additional training and education. I am confident that you’ll receive the HIGHEST level of buyer representation because I have taken the time to expand my knowledge in real estate and the home buying process.

If you’re  interested in buying a home, I would LOVE to help guide you in the process. Feel free to email me at bethanybreannenolan@gmail.com or call at (903) 738-8858.

Closing Costs: Here’s Your Breakdown

Home buying… it can be fun, it can be stressful and it can be overwhelming! There are so many steps and processes and costs involved in the process, and as a Realtor it is my job to have answers to all of my client’s questions and concerns. While I always get asked about negotiations, inspections and more, one of the main questions I receive from my buyers is…

“What will my closing costs look like…?”

Honestly, it’s important to have a nice breakdown to show where all of your money is going and possible costs that seem hidden to the first time home buyer. This is likely BIGGEST purchase a person will make during their life, so people need to know what it’s going to cost and where their money is going. It can get complicated on whether the buyer or seller is paying for certain portions of closing costs, but that’s where your handy-dandy Realtor swoops in to guide you in the negotiating process!

So first of all… what are closing costs? Closing costs are fees associated with the purchase of your property/home that are paid at the closing of your real estate transaction. A closing is when the title of the property purchased is transferred from the seller to the buyer. Closing costs are incurred by either the seller or the buyer, these CAN be negotiated.

Now that we understand the high level description of closings costs, let’s break it down. While there is a rather large list of items that can go into closings costs, what I’m going to do is break down the biggest costs first and dwindle it down to other associated costs.

CLOSING COSTS

Title Company Fees (Cost Ranges Follow the Descriptions)

  • Appraisal: Paid to appraisal company to ensure fair market value of purchased home. Cost: Ranges are ~$500. 
  • Flood Certification: Pulled by third-party, determines if property is located in a flood zone. Cost: Ranges close to $10-$15. 
  • Postage or Courier Fees: Cost for transfer of documents. Cost: Ranges close to $40.
  • Recording Fee: Recording of public land records. Cost: Typically around $130-$150.
  • Settlement Fees: The title company is paid for handling the closing. Cost: Ranges from $200-$300.
  • Survey: Goes to a survey company to verify property lines. This is not always necessary as some sellers already have a survey on file. Cost: Ranges around $650 for a normal lot.
  • Tax Services: This includes transfer taxes, property taxes that will either be prorated or handled at the closing table. Cost: Ranges close to $100. 
  • Title Search: The title company is paid for their search of the property’s records. They check on the deed of the home and ensure there are no liens, etc.

Lender Fees (These fees vary, so depend on lender for guidance with your situation)

  • Credit Report: Pulled by lender, grabs credit history for loan approval.
  • Homeowner’s Insurance: You’re typically paying your first year of insurance at closing. Simple as it sounds, it’s insurance and covers any potential damages to the home.
  • Origination Fee: Covers lender’s research and administrative costs. Typically 1 percent of loan.  
  • Owner’s Title Insurance Fees: Can be optional, but protects you in the event that there are challenges to the ownership of your home.
  • Underwriting and Processing Fee: Goes to lender and pulls history/researches buyer for loan approval.

A great estimate that I like to give my buyers on their potential closing costs would be to vary it from 2 to 4 percent of the overall purchase price of the property. So if you’re purchase a $200,000 home, you can think ~$8,000 on the very high end and ~$4,000 on the low end. I find it better to give my clients an estimate that near a number than nothing at all. It gives my buyers and sellers a little piece of mind.

Love is in the air, but so is the flu… let’s get your home clean!

The flu is HERE and it has hit the East Texas area with a vengeance. I am currently writing this blog while I’m quarantined in my bedroom with the flu. I think I actually laughed at the doctor when he told me I had the flu because of course I do… it’s everywhere!

In case you haven’t paid attention to your calendar, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner as well. With love in the air and flu germs following around to sour your plans, I’ve pulled together some ways to keep your home as germ-free as possible! Since I already have the flu, I’m sharing tips that I’m using to help my family and friends avoid the flu and keeping the home as clean as can be.

 

Quarantine the sickling.

Rude… I know. I’m currently listening to a podcast and chilling alone, but it reduces the spread of germs. This prevents me from touching other surfaces, remotes, etc.

Wash your hands. DUH!

Keeps those hands washed and clean. As soon as you get home, touch an items you know someone else may have used… clean those hands because germs are everywhere!

Clean all communal surface areas at least once a day. 

LYSOL IS YOUR FRIEND! Clean those kitchen countertops, bathroom areas and everywhere in-between.

Door knobs are just as germy. 

Get those disinfectant wipes and wipe down all door handles, light switches, alarm code pads… anything that is used on the daily.

Tissues with some issues.

The sickling needs to handle their own tissues. I will be disposing of my own tissues and so should you. Prevent spreading your sick self’s germs by disposing of your own items!

Disposable is the only way. 

Use disposable cups, paper towels/plates and separate those toothbrushes. You don’t want everyone else in the home touching the same towel you dried your hands with. It’s easier to use throwaway items. Avoid using a sponge and only use cleaning products/items that can be thrown away!

Laundry may get dicey.

The sickling’s towels, bedding and clothes are GERMY! When you’re transporting those items to the laundry room, keep them in a hamper that you can disinfect and don’t carry/hug them because it could spread the germs over to YOU!

Stay safe out there, my friends. This flu is no joke and it pities no one… I mean it’s found it’s way to me!

First Things To Do When You Move In

So you bought a home! CONGRATULATIONS!!! Now that the closing is complete and those shiny new keys are in your hand… what’s next?

Yes, turn those utilizes on and pack up those boxes, but there are also items that are often forgotten when you first move in! Below I’ve pulled together a here’s what and WHY you need certain items when you move in.


HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO DO IN YOUR NEW HOME

FIRST: CELEBRATE!!

Pop a bottle of champagne, grape juice, club soda… whatever your preference is! This is a moment to be celebrated so do it and be proud of your BIG purchase.

Batteries

Go buy batteries for your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors OR install new smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Would you rather be safe than sorry? ABSOLUTELY! New batteries will start a new timeframe and ensure that these detectors are ON and doing their job.

Change Those Lightbulbs

Change your lightbulbs to LED lightbulbs. They last longer and are more efficient! If you’re feeling ambitious, you can always move to a smarter home and install smart lights that can connect to an Alexa or Google Home!

Toilet Paper and Curtains

Seems obvious, but you’ll want toilet paper and curtains in the home while you’re slowly moving in the rest of your items. There’s no guarantee that the previous owner will leave any curtains or blinds (unless they’re attached or a fixture of the home), so don’t expect it!

Deep Clean

Either do it yourself or hire a maid service. I recommend hiring someone the day of OR day after closing to just get it DONE! Focus on those carpets, clean those vents and bathroom tubs and floor because they need a good scrub! It’s not necessary, but it gives your new place a completely CLEAN slate and washes away all the dust.

Meet The Neighbors

“I’ll do it later…” No you won’t! Don’t be intimidated by you neighbors, just go around and say hi. It’s great to build a good relationship for when you travel out-of-town or if you ever need a helping hand. A familiar face is always helpful!

Forward Your Mail

It’s simple as one, two, three! SERIOUSLY! Go online to www.usps.com to change your address. You’ll want all those wedding announcements and Christmas cards to make it to your new home!  Also, go ahead and change the addresses for your banks and bills.

Change Your Locks and Reprogram Garage Door

Yes, you were given those shiny new keys… but who else had those spares? Go to your local hardware store or Amazon and change out those locks or even get those great smart locks if you have a lot of people in and out of your home.

As for the garage door, a simple reprogram will do because your previous owners (as sweet as they were) may have had it programmed to their cars, so better to be safe!

Replace Air Filters

Clean the air! Who even know the last time those air filters were changed, so give yourself a piece of mind and replace those filters.

Pro tip: Buy multiple filters and label the extras with their change date, to keep yourself on track! 

WEIRD ADDITION: TOILET SEATS!

Interesting addition, right? But think about it… you’re going to want your own, nice and new toilet seat that wasn’t shared with the previous owner.


I hope this prepared you for moving into your home! Did I forget anything? Let me know!

Tidying Up Your Home

It’s time to clean up your space! Jumping along with the trend of all of my fellow Netflix lovers and I have to admit that my newest obsession is Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. I love that her method is focused on sparking JOY instead of just keeping it your home clean for sake of being clean. It gives you a completely new perspective on organizing and tidying up! I’m even adding her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo to my 2019 reading list.

I love that a big emphasis in January and the new year ahead are resolutions. I mean, hello… New Year, New Me! With resolutions in mind, organization in your home can really help you be a productive person.

I’ve seen a new way that people are accomplishing their tidying up resolutions is to assign one room or task per month throughout the year. It’s a fantastic way to hold yourself accountable and keep what you need and rid yourself of what you don’t. Below is a month-by-month breakdown of my tidying up calendar that you can use, too!

  • January: Food
    • Pantry, refrigerators and freezers. Check expiration dates and label/organize freezer/refrigerator food to easily find foods.
  • February: Kitchen Cupboards & Drawers
    • Throw away that Tupperware you don’t use and organize those utensils.
  • March: Bathroom Cupboards & Closets
    • Be gone old make up that’s never used and make room for freshly cleaned linens.
  • April: Office & Craft Supplies
    • Look through paperwork and clear out unwanted wrapping paper or ribbons.
  • May: Paperwork
    • Shred or keep! Look at bills, how-to manuals and file accordingly.
  • June: Garage & Storage Spaces
    • Buy more storage bins and label decor and don’t forget about that attic!
  • July: Digital – CDs/DVDs, Emails, Pics/Docs
    • Switch over all home videos to DVDs and organize movies and CDs to one location.
  • August: Outdoor Spaces
    • Move around those rakes, clean up around the grill area and repaint or repair outdoor furniture.
  • September: Laundry Room
    • Deep clean laundry, label types of clothes (colors, jeans, etc.) and clean out dryer vent.
  • October: Winterize Your Home
    • Not quite tidying up, but preparing it for winter like cleaning out the chimney.
  • November: Launder curtains and linens
    • Knock off the dust! Get those curtains (shower curtains, too) cleaned and grab your comforters and duvets in the process.
  • December: Dressers & Closets
    • Donate unwanted clothing and coordinate by season and color.

Social Inspiration

The good thing about tidying up is there’s inspiration everywhere! You can look on social channels like Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration. I really enjoy follow THE HOME EDIT® on Instagram. These ladies have organized for Khloe Kardashian (the QUEEN of beautiful Oreo jars) and been featured on the Today Show. HELLO GOALS! Pinterest is alway such a great resource to save ideas and more. Check out my Pinterest Page on Home Organization. I work best on visuals, so I really enjoy following different pages on social platforms to give me new ideas.

 

 

The Container Store

Another way to keep your home organized is by shipping at The Container Store. This place is a GAME CHANGER! I feel like a kid in a candy store when I shop here because their items are super specific from shoes to kitchen spices to your office space.  Below are some of my top items from The Container Store that help me stay tidy. I also recommend signing up for their email list serve because they do regularly email out great deals and discount codes.

  • The Acrylic Make Up Organizer is perfect for keep all of your make up brushes, eyeshadow pallets and lipsticks in plain sight. I’ve noticed when I keep my make up in a bag all jumbled together, that it’s easy to forget what you even have.
  • Shoes, shoes, shoes! The shoe boxes keep shoes free of dust while in plain sight as well. They’re easy to stack on a shelf or on the ground and easy to travel with.
  • Velvet hangers seem a little diva, right? WRONG! These bad boys maximize space in the closet while holding up all of my off-the-shoulder tops and other hard to hang clothing items. BIG FAN! Amazon also has great choices in bulk on Prime.
  • All your food organization dreams are brought to you by OXO Good Grips storage containers. They’re airtight containers and are a fantastic way to keep fresh food organized in a pantry. Worried about expiration dates? Tear the date off the original box and tape it to the back of the OXO container.

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It’s a new year for an organized YOU! I hope that some of these products, lists and tips are useful to you in your home! Excited to hear about what your goals are this year for tidying up your home.

12 Books for the New Year

Growing up, I used to be one of the BIGGEST bookworms and took a book with me everywhere. I took them to pageants, recitals and even out hunting with my Dad. Over the years, through college and working (#adulting), I’ve faded away from my joy of reading and haven’t put time aside to just sit there and read. I kept saying, “There’s just not enough time” or “I could be doing something else…” But I knew that by reading I was gaining knowledge and HELLO… knowledge is POWER!

As a New Year’s Resolution for 2018, one of my goals was to read 12 books for the year reading one book per month. Easy right? Not quite. While I thought this goal would push me to sit down and take the time to read… it didn’t, so I decided to modify my goals. Since sitting down and reading wasn’t quite working for me, I decided to get a monthly membership with Audible that gave me one credit per month to purchase a book title and listen in. I’m a huge lover of podcasts and love listening along as I travel, drive to showings or am sitting by the computer working. Since I knew I could take the time for podcasts, I knew that audiobooks may be the winner! The Audible monthly membership helped me keep all my books on my phone and listen with ease while I could be doing “something else.”

I’m proud to say that I very surprisingly listened along to 12 books, yes 12, that were useful in life, real estate and my consulting career and I’m sharing some of my insights from each book. Some were fun, but some of these books were full of great tips for my career. I hope you use this as a great guide of books to love and learn from! Below I’m sharing my thoughts on my top six books.

The Honest Real Estate Agent by Mario Jannatpour

New in the real estate industry? The Honest Real Agent is a look at the simple fundamentals of being a real estate agent. Simple as that! It dives into how to treat your clients, how to present yourself and even marketing your listings. This is a great first book for agents to get them comfortable with the new commission-based world that they’re jumping into. Mario Jannatpour also has a podcast, The Honest Real Estate Agent, which is similar to the book sharing marketing tips, lead generation ideas and strategies for new real estate agents.

The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman

Odd choice, right? While this is a book about LOVE, I also found The Five Love Languages to be a useful tool to help better understand my clients and the people around me. The five love languages include word of affirmation, receiving gifts, acts of service, quality time and physical touch. There’s a simplicity in this message but it really opened my eyes to seeing how people interact with you differently once you speak their language. For example, I’ve learned that some of my client’s love languages are quality time because of the way they want to really get to know me as a real estate agent before helping them through one of the biggest purchases of their life.

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

Want to learn the art of negotiating with high stakes… this is the book to read! The author of this book is former international hostage negotiator for the FBI and shares insights on high-stakes negotiations that can help you in a work environment or at home. The insight that stood out to me most is that negotiation is not an act of battle, you don’t have to be mean or heartless, it’s more of a process of discovery to gain as much information as possible. The author does a great job sharing how to show empathy but how to also be firm and know that NO isn’t always the end of the conversation. This read has helped my approach to negotiation in real estate with other listing agents by listening and gaining more information before jumping in.

The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

Simple, right? Mel Robbins shares her tactics on how to completely destroy any doubt and possibly change your life in just FIVE SECONDS. Complete honesty, when I first started this book I was like okay five seconds are not going the change my life, but if you use it in the way the author describes it can make a difference. Don’t want to go work out? Thinking about hitting that snooze button? Countdown backward 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and you’re mind can transform. Sounds whack, I know. But just try it! Now will my life change FOREVER, no. Is it a good tool, though, to help me push forward with small tasks, yes! I will admit this book is terribly long with quite a bit of fluff, but give it a listen or read.

The Millionaire Real Estate Agent by Dave Jenks, Jay Papasan, Gary Keller

This really is the book that all Real Estate Agents should read. It pulls on experience from top producers all over the country that have had a high volume in sales. What really stuck out to me was that not one successful agent/broker’s journey was the same as the next. This really hit me that you have to do what works best for YOU and what works for you may not work as well for the next person. It’s a long listen, don’t get me wrong… but the author did a great job breaking it down for a beginner agent and how goal-setting needs to be a priority. Great insight from people in the real estate industry. Definitely plan on re-reading this book!

The other books I read in 2018 include:

I’ve decided that I’ll be keeping the same goals for 2019 and will aim to read one book per month. My goal is to exceed that goal, but I’m keeping it attainable. I would love to hear all of your favorite books and recommendations in the comments! Happy reading!

Don’t Forget: Applying for your Homestead Exemption

Cheers to the New Year, y’all! It’s a time for resolutions, exciting new things and time too apply for your Homestead Exemption for your primary residence. Did you buy a home in 2018? Then you don’t want to forget to apply for your Homestead Exemption. It’s actually a super simple process, but I’m here to help you through it! Let’s break down this whole Homestead Exemption thing…

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Homestead Exemption

/ˈhōmˌsted ex·emp·tion/
noun
According to the Texas Comptroller, a homestead can separate structure, condominium or a manufactured home located on owned or leased land, as long as the individual living in the home owns it. A homestead can include up to 20 acres, if the land is owned by the homeowner and used for a purpose related to the residential use of the homestead. You can apply for a homestead exemption on your main residence to lower your taxes.

Who qualifies for a Homestead Exemption?

Requirements to receive the exemption:

  1. Must own the property on January 1 of the year you are applying. January 1 is not required if you’re over 65 and/or disabled. 
  2. Must reside at your home as primary residence.
  3. Must be individual homeowner, not entities or corporation.
  4. Can be house, manufactured home or mobile home. Can include up to 20 acres if land is used as yard and owned by homeowner.
  5. Must apply between January 1 and April 30 for year you intend to use exemption.

How to apply?

  1. Find and complete APPLICATION FOR RESIDENTIAL HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION.
  2. Include copy of Driver’s License or identification Card. Address on the cards must match the homestead address.

Remember, this can ONLY be used on your primary residence. Not investment properties, not land. The best resource to use when applying for your Homestead Exemption is your local county appraisal district’s office/website or the Texas Comptroller.

File today and get that tax break!

 

Listing Your Home? Here’s What You Can Do Now

Making moves? Then it’s probably time you start thinking about putting your home on the market. Now it’s not as simple as one, two, three… but it’s not as scary as it seems. I’ve pulled together some simple steps to take care of before you put your home on the market.

Deep Clean

Do it yourself or hire a professional. From the baseboards to every corner in the home, dust should go POOF! One man’s trash is not another man’s treasure in this situation. Potential buyers are looking at EVERY corner of your home, so keep it clean.

Declutter

Clean out your shelves, pantry, countertops and the bottom of your closet! When people come in to look at your home, you want them to see the bare minimum. If it doesn’t add to the aesthetic of the home, it needs to go.

Move Those Family Photos

Yes, you’re proud of you family or significant other, but they need to go! You don’t want your family on display for your pictures on Realtor.com and you probably would prefer that the potential buyer isn’t concerned about who currently lives in the home instead of seeing the beauty of the home. Depersonalize!

Inspect Your Home

This is not a requirement, but it could show you potential hiccups or issues that could come up once you get an offer. An inspector can point out some big or small issues that you can fix before putting your home on the market.

Curb Appeal

Pull out those weeds, rake those leaves and sweep that front porch. Curb appeal is EVERYTHING! Does the outside of the home need some love? A good power wash could do the trick or even a fresh coat of paint on the trim or shutters. A lot of potential buyers will make their rounds to check the outside of the home before they asking their Realtor to show it to them.

Freshen Up That Paint

Keep it neutral and keep it cute. If you have the funds and the time, cover up that lime green or bubble gum pink room and paint over an spots or scratches and definitely think about replacing that wallpaper. This makes a bigger difference than you would imagine. A lot of potential buyers want move in ready and having a great, neutral paint color throughout the home can be just what they want.

Find Those Documents

Your Listing Agent is going to ask for any documents that you have involving the home. This includes any existing surveys, restrictions or manuals on an fixtures for the home (operating manuals for appliances, security system, etc.). If you can’t find everyone, no worries! Your Listing Agent can help you gather details from your local title company or other resources.

And finally….

Call Me!

Don’t blindly hire an agent. Let me help you list your home and market it to the right clientele. I specialize in social media and marketing, helping me direct your property to people in the area and outside of our area. I also happily meet with clients before listing to help guide with any updates needed in the home. I never recommend throwing a ton of money in updates unless it is NECESSARY, so consult an agent first.

Not in the East Texas area? I can refer you to the top agents in your area and ensure you’re listing with an agent that specializes in residential or land sales in your community. I refer friends and family to clients in large and small cities that help market and SELL properties!

Keep Your Home Safe During the Holidays

Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays, right?! The holiday season is full of traveling near and far to see family and friends. While you’re preoccupied with the hustle and bustle of bopping around for the holidays, you don’t want to forget about keeping your home safe. Traveling can already be stressful enough, so I took the liberty of speaking with Officer Lana Davidson, Gilmer Police Department Investigator, about the best tips and tricks to protect your home during the holidays.

Our local law enforcement is loaded with knowledge and information to help us stay safe and out of harms way, especially during a crazy time like the holidays. I’m so thankful for all of our police officers, especially Officer Davidson, for keeping us all safe. Officer Davidson gave me so many useful tips that she even uses when she’s traveling away from home, so you know it’s the good stuff  when even she’s practicing what she’s preaching! When you sit there and think about it the police department is there for every break-in or intruder alert, so they all know a thing or two about what people are looking for while homeowners are out of town.

With Christmas nearing in, here are some great tips from our local law enforcement to keep your home safe during the holidays:

Remove Hidden Keys Outside

Have those spare keys hidden under a flower pot? Front doormat? You’re not alone and you’re not being clever because everyone has that SAME hiding spot. Move those keys! Or at least move them while you’re out of town to give you a little piece of mind.

Have Your Mail Picked Up By Family/Friend or Held By Post Office

There’s nothing that say’s I’m out of town more than a full mailbox of unread mail. Have a family member, friend or neighbor drop in to pick up your mail while you’re out of town. If that’s not an option, you can coordinate with your local post office to hold your mail until you’re back in town.

Send Packages Elsewhere

Hitting up those last minute sales or have that Amazon Prime order coming in? Don’t let those packages pile up on the front porch. Either have them shipped to an office or different location. As said above, you can also have a family member, friend or neighbor pick up packages while you’re out of town. To request a mail hold, call 1-800-ASK-USPS or complete a “hold mail” form at the post office. You can make the request up to 30 days in advance or as early as the next-scheduled delivery day. The postal service will hold mail from three to 30 days.

Put Your Lights On A Timer

Sounds complicated, but it’s really not. You can buy a cheap timer for your lights inside and outside of your home, or get a smart plug. Have your inside lights on a rotation that matches with your normal schedule when you’re typically home and not. You can find timers at Walmart, Target or even Amazon. Officer Davidson also mentioned having your TV on a timer, it’s not necessary but it really adds to the look of being home.

Watch Your Social Media

Check yoself, before you wreck yoself. Avoid posting vacation countdowns or checking in on social media while you’re out of town. I know you want to share all of your insta-worthy photos with the world, so just be sure not to geotag yourself or even better… wait to post until you’re BACK HOME! Yes, this is difficult even for me, but no one knows you’re out of town if you don’t show them.

Ensure All Windows and Doors Are Locked

Check your windows and doors and then double-check them! Don’t forget to look at all of your screens, too. Officer Davidson said this is a surefire way to see if someone tried to break in by looking back at the screens after the trip to see if there’s been any bends or breaks.

Take An Inventory of Valuables

Take a video, pictures and write down all of your valuables. Photos and serial numbers are very useful for local law enforcement. For example, if a gun is stolen, having a serial number can help track if the item was sold or used. You want to file stolen items IMMEDIATELY to the police department so they can have it in their files.

Move Valuables Out of Site

Take those valuable out of the window area or any rooms that can be seen from outside of the home. Out of sight, out of mind!

Install Motion Lights

And make sure the lights work!! This will scare off intruders if they’re walking around your home.

Keep Your Neighbors In The Loop

Homies with the neighbors? Good! Let them know that you’ll be out of town so they can alert you if they see any funny behavior while you’re gone. It’s not an imposition to them because trust me, they’ll want the favor in return.

Set Your Alarm 

I mean… duh! Crazy enough, Officer Davidson said a lot of people don’t do this. WHAT?! Don’t forget this little step before you leave the home.

Keep Things As They’re Normally Seen

This means that if your curtains are typically open, don’t draw them closed when you’re out of town. Leave them open. Are your blinds typically opened? Leave them opened. That’s a big sign for intruders to look for.

Change Those Keypad Lock Codes

Keypads for garages and front doors sure do make life easy, but have you ever thought about how many people have your code? Family, friends and friends of friends could have quick access to the inside of your home. NO GOOD! Change those keypad lock codes often and only give it out to people who really need to know. 

Notify The Police Department Of Travels

Your local law enforcement is there to HELP!! Remember this. You can call your police department and let them know that you’ll be out of town and they can add your home to their typical route while you’re out of town to keep an eye on everything. Growing up, if my Dad was out of town, my mom and I have had no shame asking the police department to take a loop around our place at night. No. Shame.

 

Safe travels and happy holidays! I hope that you can rest easy knowing that you have these great tips and tricks to keep your home safe from our local law enforcement. Share any useful tips that you use while you’re out of town during the holidays!

Listen In! 5 Great Podcasts for Real Estate Agents

Podcasting is a habit for me! I love listening along as I get ready in the mornings, drive around to showings and while I’m working. It’s a great way to pass time, but also learn something new and useful at the same time!

When I lived in Houston, I would drive back and forth to East Texas quite often (because Wedding Season is the season that never ends). I started to get sick and tired of listening to the same songs over and over and OVER AGAIN, so I knew it was time to switch up my little driving routine. Podcasts were always a topic of conversation in my workspace in Houston, so I decided to give it a try and listen, and I’m so happy I did!

If you’re new to the podcast world, I highly recommend that you start our with How I Built This with Guy Raz. The inspiring stories about how people built their businesses were uplifting and fun to listen along with. The different stories about perseverance and how people built their businesses from beginning to end makes it worth the listen. While I always love an inspiration story, I also find it useful to listen to sales and real estate podcasts. There are MANY podcasts to choose from that are focused on marketing, leads, listings and so much more. Below are five podcasts that I enjoy and think you will, too!

5 Great Podcasts for Real Estate Agents

FACE TO FACEIt’s all about building a brand and your imprint in the real estate industry with the Face to Face podcast. Jay and Michael do a great job building off one another sharing their experience from being in the real estate industry, leaving to start a different business and then jumping back into the industry. They talk about it all coming full circle and share their past experiences, as well as, their present experiences. They really are fun to listen to and learn from. This is one of my newest finds and I HIGHLY recommend.

Super Agents LIVEToby Salgado interviews industry leaders and really digs deep to find answers of what got these people to where they are and how they found success. I sometimes have difficulty listening to this podcast because Toby is a little condescending with his interviewees but I’ve come to find out that it’s so he can get the RIGHT answers and not a glossed over “I just worked hard and kept my head down.” Super Agents Live has great teaching points. Is this podcast centered for newer agents in the industry? No, it’s not. But it’s useful and provides great tools for marketing and listings. This podcast is not consistent on a posting schedule, but they’re lengthy and provide LOADS of great information.

The Honest Real Estate AgentThis one lives up to its name… HONEST! Mario Jannatpour, the creator and voice of the podcast, shares some really great advice. It’s not all just about marketing a property or winning a listing; he really dives into how you as an agent should present yourself. A great example he had was an agent look sloppy, fumbling papers as they were walking out of the dirty and messy vehicle to greet the potential buyers.  People are always watching and he does a great job explaining how important your presentation is. He also has a fantastic book called The Honest Real Estate Agent that covers all of the same aspects the podcast does. Unfortunately, his podcast is not consistent with posting every week (or sometimes month), but it gives you an opportunity to catch up on old episodes.

Business Unusual with Barbara CorcoranShort, sweet and to the point! Barbara Corcoran was a real estate mogul, ’Shark’ on ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank and is just fun to listen to. She’s witty and quick and just a straight forward type of gal, which is what I love! In her podcast, she focuses on using your smarts to read people, how to get what YOU want and pushing forward professionally. Her episodes are normally around seven minutes long, so you can listen in on your daily commute!

Side Hustle School with Chris GuillebeauSeems like an odd, random choice for real estate agents but hear me out. This is a daily podcast that normally is a maximum of eight minutes long with a 15 minute weekly recap on Sundays. Every day there’s a different episode about people with different “side hustles” and it’s anything from creation of products to trainings and more. What I truly like about this podcast is the lessons the people learn from sales and how they uniquely market their product. It’s fascinating how a lot of these side hustles can teach you about marketing a property or dealing with a client. I’ve an OG follower and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t squeeze in around eight minutes to listen in of people’s new and fun side hustles and the take aways they have that I can use.

 

These are some of my favorite podcasts and I hope you give them a listen! If you’re a podcaster, I would love to hear what some of your favorites are. I’m always trying to learn more as I listen along.