The Dollhouse: Office Space Before & After

Working from home is the new reality for most of us in 2020. In most homes, it’s basically looked at as a luxury to have a designated and separate work space and is honestly desired by most buyers. The back room in The Dollhouse was a TV room when I bought it, but I wanted to turn it into a potential bedroom that also served as an office space and workout room.

The original room was something, y’all! There was fabric wallpaper. Yes, like a wall of curtains collecting all the dust and dirt it wanted to over time. Talk about an asthma attack waiting to happen! I appreciate the vibe that these fabric walls once gave, but they had their moment and it was time to graduate to a fresher look. It was surprisingly super easy tearing down the fabric and taking out the Styrofoam ceilings. The demo was probably the smoothest for this space and I was thankful for that!

The biggest challenge this room provided was the TV cabinet. I wanted to turn this cabinet into a closet to make it a room. Did you know that in order to be considered a bedroom there must be a closet? It wasn’t difficult to tear it into a closet, but it was challenging determining the size it would be. The back of the closet lined up to the kitchen where the refrigerator was placed. I battled with doing a skinnier fridge for more closet space but am so happy I went with the larger fridge size and sized down that bonus closet. It’s now used as a dress closet (like a true dream for me to have an individual closet for my daily dresses) and it can in the future be used as a bonus room or nursery for growing families down the road. I’ve learned from real estate to never take away a functional bedroom, just utilize it for your needs – but keep the closet!

OFFICE SPACE

Cosmetic updates were really all this office space needed! A little TLC getting rid of that wild fabric, refinishing hardwoods and adding in a nice little gray wall with a pop of gold from my light fixture and BAM! I needed this room to flow as a work space and work out room. It also doesn’t hurt to bring in a little bit of my agriculture roots and add in some Hereford hide. I seriously looked everywhere to find the right type of rug that could work for a corner desk and then thought about how a Hereford hide rug might just work and boy did it!

I honestly had to move my desk around a couple of times before I found the right flow and layout I wanted for my office. The first desk I bought was a beautiful wooden mid-century desk, but it truly wasn’t big enough to fit my computer, monitor and my printer. I love, love this Ikea desk that is wide enough yet deep enough as well for me to lay out my thank you notes or write to do lists. You would be surprised how difficult it is to find a simple white desk without weird accents on it.

My diploma frames are hands down my favorite! I had the original and traditional diploma frames with the college crests, but it just wasn’t fitting the vibe of the room. I took a chance on ordering these custom floating acrylic frames and they’re simple enough yet also show off my undergraduate and masters degrees. They needed a place to shine – and this was the space!

With this small wall space, I originally thought that I wanted a big gallery wall (which could have been cool). I know myself well enough to know that the second I put up a gallery wall that I wouldn’t love the placement or the art and would want to completely redo it. I thought on it for a while and found a better solution, which was to do shelves and treat the decor like a gallery wall. These acrylic shelves give more attention to the decor and awards and don’t overwhelm the space. I can change it up seasonally and move around books or awards as I feel the need!


It’s all about that work from home flow and I’ve set my office space up to do just that! It’s simple yet has all the finishes and touches that just work for me. This room flows right off my sunroom, enters to my master bedroom and goes to my pantry/kitchen area. Because there are so many different access points, it really is hte perfect space for my office. Hope you enjoyed this peak into The Dollhouse!

Home Warranties: What Are They and Do You Need One?

I’ve been getting this question more and more from my buyers and my past clients when it comes time to renew the home warranty they got when they first purchased their home or for my first time home buyers on if having a home warranty is even worth it. So first things first, let’s break it down…

home war·ran·ty

/hōm/ /ˈwôrən(t)ē/

an annual service contract that can cover a cost to replace or repair home appliances or systems that may break down

Now that we know what a home warranty is, let’s talk about what it can do. Home warranties can cover as much or as little as you choose to pay in coverage. It’s like a little insurance policy on your appliances and systems. Sounds peachy, right? It can be! There are some huge perks of having a home warranty, but for some people there can be downfalls or frustrations.

Price Breakdown

Home warranties range in price depending on the company and package you order. They typically range from $500-$800 and your service charge can range from $50-$75. There are add-ons like pools, septic systems and more than can hike up the cost a little, but can be totally worth it. For first time home buyers, the seller typically pays for the home warranty to cover the first year at closing – but this is all dependent on negotiations. When I say it’s dependent on negotiations, I mean sometimes a seller doesn’t want to pay for a home warranty (that’s their right) or it may make that buyers offer look sweeter in a multiple offer situation to remove it and buy their own before or after closing.

Companies that my clients love to work with include:

What Does It Cover?

A basic plan typically covers the following:

  • Heating, Central Air Conditioning, Ductwork, Electrical system, Garage Door Openers, Attic – Ceiling – Exhaust Fans, Plumbing System, Plumbing Stoppages, Water Heater, Sump Pump, Dishwasher, Oven/Range/Cooktop, Built-In Microwave, Garbage Disposal, Trash Compactor

More premium plans can include:

  • Clothes washer/dryer, Kitchen Refrigerator, Plumbing Upgrade, Heating – Air Conditing Upgrade, Appliance Upgrade, Permit Fees, Code Violations, Haul Away Services, Improper Installation — Repair – Modifications

Potential add-ons to services:

  • Roof Leak, Central Vacuum, Additional Refrigerator, Geothermal Heating System, Septic System, Septic Plumbing, Above Ground Pool, Standalone Freezer, Well Pump, Pool/Spa, Ice Maker

How Does It Work?

  1. Make a Service Request. You will contact via phone or website the claims department and request servicing on the item that is deficient.
  2. Schedule Appointment. You’ll be assigned a local service technician that the home warranty company works with that will coordinate with you to schedule a mutually convenient appointment.
  3. Pay Service Fee. You will directly pay the local service technician directly for the service fee that is in your agreed upon contract. It’s running from $50-$75 with most companies. The perk of keeping your home warranty year after year is that you can get grandfathered in at the same payment and it won’t go up while new clients may have service payments that are $100 down the road and yours stays at $65.
  4. Have item repaired or replaced. The service technician will determine if the item is reparable or needs to be replaced. This can get tricky when it comes to replacements – the warranty company will determine coverage eligibility and see if its a complete replacement of the item or explore a claim buyout (i.e. they would cut you a check for the item and you go get another one). There’s no one size fits all on the solutions… but this is where a lot of frustration can come from clients with home warranties as you may need an item needs to be replaced while the warranty company may say it needs one small repair or will cut a check that wouldn’t cover the expense of a new item.

Do I Really Need One?

Talk about a loaded question. I go through the should we or shouldn’t we question on the home warranty with my buyers all the time! My answer is that it truly depends for the buyer and their situation. I do think that home warranties can be very useful, especially for first time home buyers. When an appliance or item breaks down, it’s nice to have a home warranty company direct you to a local service technician and know that they’re a licensed professional coming in to repair or replace and you know upfront what that service fee will look like. I find it to be especially useful for my clients that are transferring from another city or state and they don’t yet know who their preferred electricians or plumbers are.

Advantages of having home warranty coverage in place is just like having insurance on your home. It’s most beneficial for the biggest mishaps. When a big ticket item like a hot water heater or air conditioning unit breaks down, they could potentially replace the whole unit. Imagine not having that warranty… that would cost one pretty penny! It’s even useful for when a smaller item like a dishwasher breaks down… they’ll get out their and replace the broken piece and you know what you’re paying versus blindly hiring out.

When it comes to a downfall with a home warranty, it’s truly when they can’t cover what you’re needing. They get to say yes or no to replacement of the product or how much it will be covered for. This can be frustrating… but hey, that’s ~$500 to cover the potential to replace items versus having nothing in place and paying everything out of pocket. I’m not going to lie, I do have a lot of client that never touch their home warranty. They’re lucky and nothing breaks down. That’s great! But the clients that do utilize the home warranty services, truly have benefited.

The only reason I would say to not worry with a home warranty is if you have loyalty and connections with local plumbers, electricians and HVAC specialists. It may not be worth it to pay that $500 when you know you want to call your trusted crew regardless. I totally get that. But they can’t cut you a deal (or maybe they can) when that refrigerator breaks down or dishwasher busts.

Overall, home warranties can be a great tool for homeowners. It’s all about having a little bit of protection when stuff breaks down and life ya know… happens!

Quarantine Chronicles: What Home Buyers and Sellers Can Do

Hello and welcome to hands down one of the weirdest times featuring the infamous COVID-19 along with lots social distancing and quarantining with family or by yourself. Every profession is learning to adjust and transition the way we do work by moving more digitally and enhancing relationships virtually. For some real estate buyers and sellers, you may think that these quarantimes is putting everything on pause, but I don’t find that to be the case. This time can be utilized as an opportunity for reflection for buyers and preparation for sellers.

We’ve got lots of time out our hands to scroll through Facebook and binge through Netflix shows (I mean Tiger King had me SHOOK), but let’s use it for something productive as well. Whether you’re buying or selling, I’ve got a couple of items you can handle now before life hits us even faster later on.

THINKING ABOUT BUYING A HOME?

Get with your agent. Well duh! This is a great time to build a relationship with your real estate agent and let them know that you’re ready to buy. You can discuss the type of home you are looking for, wish list items and really start narrowing down what you’re wanting in a home.

Think about that money. Your agent can set you up with a great lender, so use this opportunity to see what you want your monthly mortgage payments to look like. Set up a monthly budget. This can help narrow in your price range when house hunting. It’s also a great time to speak with your agent and lender about down payments and closing costs so fees don’t hit you in the face later on.

Narrow down your wants and needs. With all this time you now have, truly figure out what you want and what you need in a home. Yes… there’s a difference! Do you need a big yard for a growing family or your cute little pup? These are priorities that you an get in line before you start looking after the quarantimes. Just be sure you’re making a list of what is a priority and what may not be.

Research areas and school districts. Hey, school districts and location may not matter to you right now, but it’s good to start researching potential schools or drive by certain areas. This can save you and your agent so much time in the long run. You doing this extra homework helps!

THINKING ABOUT SELLING A HOME?

Declutter. Take spring cleaning to a whole new level and really clean out those toy bins or junk drawers hidden throughout your home. As your agent, I want your place to look clean and make it easy for a potential buyer to see themselves living in it without jumping through mess and junk everywhere.

Landscape. No, don’t run to Lowe’s with all the other people. Get a little dirt therapy in your system and weed your flower beds or clean up around the exterior of your home. Curb appeal is EVERYTHING!

Give it another eye. Walk through your home with a new lens. Think about coming in as a first time home buyer and take note of little items that could use a little love or upgrading in your home. While it may work for you now, it probably won’t for others. I’m not saying completely repaint your whole home or replace appliances. What I’m talking about is painting over that scrape on the wall or caulking in that opening from humidity. These little projects make a big difference over time and right now all you have is time.

Keep it cute. Yes, you’re decluttering, but don’t forget that buyers like a staged home. You don’t have to go out and buy all this new decor. Use what you have! Take down those family photos, play around with furniture and make the home flow from the front door to the back of the house. You’ll want these buyers to imagine themselves in your home. Make it welcoming!

Plan for what’s next. Where are you going? Do you already have an idea of a house you want? Let your listing agent know, so they can keep an eye out. Want to build? Your agent can help you find land and a builder. Your home could sell quicker than you think, so take this time to figure out a plan for the next step.

Although we all seem to be at a pause and standstill in life right now, this is a great time to prepare. Prepare to buy, prepare to list and prepare with your agent!

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!

Meet Bethany: Realtor®, Consultant and East Texas Native

Hello! Howdy! Hi there! I am Bethany Nolan, a Realtor® and Consultant, with a lot on my mind! Starting a blog has always been an aspiration for me, but finding the time and narrowing down content that I am passionate about has been my struggle. Before we get into all of that fun, here’s a little bit about me:

I’m a ninth generation Texan with seven generations in Upshur County. Growing up in rural Gilmer, Texas was always a treat and I’m a proud Gilmer Buckeye and alumna. After high school, I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Communications and Journalism at Texas A&M University and a minor in Horticulture with an Event Planning Certification. Upon completion at Texas A&M  I moved to Lubbock, Texas to receive a Master of Science in Agricultural Communications. Once all of my fun schooling was over, I moved to Houston and began working for a public relations firm specializing in their food, agriculture and beverage department focusing on media relations and social media. Working in public relations gave me a great background to transition into opening up Bethany Nolan Consulting, LLC, to assist clients with their social media, media relations and more. Unknowingly at the time, but my background serves as an advantage for marketing and selling real estate. Summed up in a nutshell… that’s a little bit about ME!

Now that you have a little bit of a backgrounder on ya girl, here are some fun little tid bits to get to know me a little better:

  • Hobby: I love to bake and test out new recipes; it’s a great escape for me!
  • Favorite Movie: Son-In-Law, Troop Beverly Hills and Heavyweights
  • Favorite TV Series: Hart of Dixie, Gilmore Girls and Gossip Girl
  • Biggest Pet Peeve: Smacking… GETS. UNDER. MY. SKIN!
  • Biggest Fear: Needles, just can’t shake the fear

I’m excited to take a deep dive into real estate, consulting and the life of Bethany! My hope and plan is to help guide you in the home buying process, preparation tips for preparing your home for the market or the holidays and even give some insight on social media marketing that I use to guide my consulting clients. Follow along, subscribe and enjoy the ride.