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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.

 

Cyber Monday: Homeowner Edition

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! But I’m talking about Cyber Monday! This little holiday and shopping day is my speed because it’s all online and one click away! As you can guess, I am keeping all of my Cyber Monday finds specific for homeowners!!

For Cyber Monday: Homeowner Edition, it’s not just about vacuums and blenders. I’m pulling finds from Pottery Barn with my favorite bedding to Crate and Barrels wine glasses (yes, the one’s Olivia Pope uses in Scandal)! I will throw in some great tech and guest rooms finds as well. Cyber Monday is like Christmas everyday because all the packages keep showing up on your doorstep! Enjoy and click away!

Wordpress Featured Image- Cyber Monday


|| BATH & BODY WORKS||

40% OFF SITEWIDE PLUS FREE SHIPPING ON $40 PURCHASES

Your house will smell like Christmas in NO TIME! Time to stock up on candles, wallflowers, moisturizers and more! My house will personally be getting loads of Fresh Balsam and Vanilla Bean Noel to have my house smelling all festive and what not. Also thinking about grabbing plenty of wallflower plugs and fragrance refills for my real estate clients and their new homes! Sale starts online at 6AM.

USE THE CODE: SHOPCYBER

023845824  Wallflower Fragrance Refill  Vanilla Bean Noel 3-Wick Candle  023996166


|| POTTERY BARN||

25% OFF SITEWIDE PLUS FREE SHIPPING

Basically, anything goes. Want a new duvet? 25% off. Looking for some serving dishes? 25% off! I love anything and everything Pottery Barn. A couple of items I’m eyeing include the TENCEL™ Ruffel Duvet Cover & Sham. In love with the simplicity of the duvet and sham and think it adds a nice and clean look to a room.

All of the serving pieces you need for hosting parties or just a wine night can be found at Pottery Barn, too. I love the Everyday Pitcher that is perfect of lemon water or a sangria and the PB Classic Glass Drink Dispenser to help hydrate a crowd. Speaking of wine nights, Pottery Barn has a variety of cheese boards that are Insta-worthy. My favorite is the Chateau Wood Cheese Board.

USE THE CODE: CYBER

tencel-ruffle-duvet-cover-sham-white-o  PB CLASSIC GLASS DRINK DISPENSER  everyday-pitcher-o.jpg    chateau-wood-cheese-boards-o


||CRATE AND BARREL||

20% OFF SELECT FULL PRICE ITEMS

Entertaining pieces galore! My mother LOVES to buy their big white platters for cookies and snacks when she’s entertaining crowds. I am personally obsessed with their Camille Wine Glasses (yes, the ones Olivia Pope has in Scandal). They’re already discounted, so might as well throw it in your cart! As for using the 20% discount, I recommend piling up on their LeCreuset cookware, especially their signature round dutch oven.

Other discounts include 40% off of rugs and 20% off lighting. Sales prices are final and do not include the 20% off full price items.

Camille Red Wine 23oz  Rectangle Platter   LeCreuset Signature Round Dutch Over


|| BED BATH & BEYOND||

Talk about an organized shopping experience! Bed Bath & Beyond has all of their Cyber Monday deals separated into categories from kitchen to electronics to vacuums, so you’re sure to find something you NEED for your home.

Keep your house clean with vacuum savings that can be up to $120 with the newest Dyson V8 Vacuum on the market. You can equip your home as a smart house with the Nest Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm ($20 in savings), as well as, the Nest Learning Thermostat for $179. My sister has been eyeing the Nespresso® by Breville® Coffee and Espresso Maker Bundle that $100 off for Cyber Monday. Honestly, I’m starting to eye that coffee and espresso maker, too. Talk about a steal!

Discounts for Cyber Monday items are already applied online when shopping.

Snip 2018-11-25 20.11.42  Snip 2018-11-25 20.21.33.png  Nest Learning Third Generation Thermostat  Snip 2018-11-25 20.30.11


|| AMAZON||

Amazon, the head honcho of Cyber Monday, has got the deals rolling in. I’m just going to cut to the chase here and give you all the sweet deals that are perfect for your home.

Amazon’s Echo Dot (3rd gen) is honestly a game changer and it’s even half off. Listen to your musics, the news or just get information. One of my friends even had her Smart Light Bulbs hooked up to her Echo Dot and would tell Alexa when to turn her lights on and off. NOW THAT’S COOL! You can also add an Amazon Smart Plug to any Echo device for $5. Schedule your lights, fans and appliances to shut off; yes, schedule that curling iron to turn OFF! Don’t miss out on saving 46% on this Dyson Pure Cool Link Air Purifier. It’s asthma and allergy friendly and could really be useful with the changing weather! Also, check out the Nespresso VertuoPlus Coffee and Espresso Maker. This version does not have the milk frother, but it does have the same capabilities as the other Nespresso Coffee and Espresso makers.

All-New Echo Dot (3rd Generation)  Amazon  Dyson Air Purifier 71aYbx0GxDL._SL1500_


||THE CONTAINER STORE||

CYBER WEEK: 20% OFF A DIFFERENT CATEGORY EACH DAY

Here’s to all the neat freaks! The Container Store is for all the organizing kings and queens of the world. Instead of just hosting a Cyber Monday they’re hosting a Cyber Week! For Cyber Monday, though, they are hosting 20% off on closet and bedroom essentials. This means shoe storage, jewelry holders and hangers are all 20% off! My favorite non-slip hangers keep my closet neat and tidy to where I can see ALL of my clothes and hold up all my off-the-shoulder tops. Keep all of your shoes dust free with the shoe box. I love that I can SEE the shoes but they’re not collecting dust either. I recommend buying the case! The acrylic jewelry stand are sitting on my dresser in my room perfectly displaying my bracelets. They’re simple and pretty and don’t clash with whatever style is going on in your room or closet. I’m also a BIG FAN of the Diamond Dazzle Stick. It cleans all my rings and jewelry to like NEW and it’s a great gift for friends that are newly engaged, so stock up!

Huggable Hangers  Acrylic Jewelry Stand  Diamond Dazzle Stick


||WILLIAMS SONOMA||

I LOVE shopping in Williams Sonoma. The place is in my kitchen dreams and has just about EVERYTHING you could need! Savings are up to 70% and the discounts are unbeatable here for Cyber Monday and it’s a one day deal! 

I’ve been on the hunt for a knife set and of course, William Sonoma has the best quality and brands. Their Wüsthof Gourmet 12 Piece Knife set has a savings of $349, like hello DONE! Their LeCreuset Cast Iron Dutch is over 50% off and their essentials bakeware collection with 6 pieces is priced at $79. All worth the buy!

Wusthof Gourmet 12 piece knife block set  Le Creuset Signature Cast Iron Round Dutch Oven, 2 3:4-Qt.  img46c


|| TARGET||

15% OFF SITEWIDE

Here’s what’s giving you more bang for your buck at Target for Cyber Monday: TVs and Vacuums. It’s fun growing up and have adult-like things on your wish list, right? Save $150 with the iRobot Roomba 890 Robotic Vacuum for $349.99. Roomba deals are everywhere, but the Target one is pretty sweet. As for TVs, save $120 for the Samsung 50″ Smart UHD TV for $329.99. I’ve also been going back and forth on this Luxury Mink Weighted Blanket; hoping it will make me toss and turn less at night.

iRobot Roomba 890 Robot Vacuum  SAMSUNG 55" Class 4K (2160P) UHD Smart LED TV UN55NU6900 (2018 Model) Luxury Mink Weighted Blanket


 

I hope that you find these Cyber Monday finds useful for your home! I’m excited to load up my shopping cart and get lots of goodies. Happy shopping! Please share all of your Cyber Monday finds!

Looking to buy a property? 5 Things to Do Before You Call A Real Estate Agent

Is buying a new property or home on your horizon? It’s the most exciting, stressful time and likely the biggest purchase of your life! There’s no doubt that the whole process of buying a home or property can be overwhelming. Luckily, real estate agents and brokers provide local expertise and are a great resource to help you find exactly what you are looking for.

Select an agent with the right credentials for your buy. While you may want to immediately pick up the phone and call me to help find your DREAM HOME, there is some groundwork that can be accomplished beforehand. Here are five things that you can do before calling a real estate agent:                                               

1. Get pre-qualified for your loan.

Hands down, this should be your first step as it is the most important! Getting pre-qualified means that a lender (your bank) has looked closely at employment history, credit reports, income, etc. The lender will then determine loan programs that you qualify for and find what works best for your financial situation. Basically, you can’t go spending more than your credit limit will let you!

Going through the pre-qualification process helps your real estate agent find a property that is in your price range. Most of the time clients get very eager and want to look at homes before speaking with a lender or bank, but I prefer not to show them homes without knowing their limits. You can really sour the house hunting process by showing a home out of a client’s price range, letting them fall in love, only to realize that they can’t afford it. Getting pre-qualified can be as simple as a phone call so it doesn’t have to take up your whole day. I do highly recommend meeting with the lender in person just to make the initial connection and help build a relationship.

If you don’t know where to start or who to call to get qualified, I can guide you in the right direction to help find a mortgage lender or bank that fits your needs.

2. Know the area that you want to purchase.

When it comes down to it, you need to know the location or area of where you plan to purchase a property. This decision can come down to the school districts, access to hospitals, or dining. Determining the location of the property helps the real estate agent zero in on where the buyer is focused on living or investing and eliminates questions about other locations. Real estate agents have great programs in the MLS systems that allow us to map out or search specifically by district.

Knowing the location you want to purchase a property in may take some time. I always recommend that my clients take a cruise in the areas they’re leaning toward in the morning and evening. It really helps you get a feel of the neighborhood. Wanting a neighborhood perfect for a growing family? Take a look and see if there are kids playing basketball outside or families going for walks in the evening. Looking for something quiet like a retirement community? Do a night drive by to see if the nightlife is popping in the neighborhoods you’re interested in. These little cruises can really cut down the house-hunting search. There’s nothing worse than when a real estate agent takes a client to a home they requested to see and the client pulling up and not even wanting to look inside the home (that you made clients leave so you could show) because they’re not a fan of the neighborhood. Yes, your agent is there and happy to help you in the elimination process, but help them out too!

3. Study the market.

Look at the economic situation that surrounds you. Research the market for homes in the area where you want to purchase. While a real estate agent can share the length of time homes have been on the market and estimated closing costs, research done ahead of time gives buyers expectations of costs in the location area of where they want to purchase a property. It can also help you see when the competitive times are in the market (typically in the spring/summer).

4. Know the usage of the property that you plan to purchase.

Typically, I’m searching for residential or luxury homes for my clients. So while is seems like an obvious answer that most clients want a subdivision, your real estate agent needs a little more information than that. Clarifying the usage of the property can narrow down the selection to more ‘prime’ choices. Do you want a minimum of five acres so you have room to breathe? Do you want a property where the Home Owner’s Association (HOA) takes care of the lawn? These little tid bits of information can really help narrow it down for your agent’s search.

Another potential deterrent can be deed restrictions on some properties. Some clients want to build a shop or add a pool to their backyard. Having those deed restrictions let’s you know what you’re allowed to build and add-on in neighborhoods. It can really make or break a decision.

5. Research your real estate agent.

Shopping for a real estate agent can be time-consuming, but knowing that you are using the right person for the type of property you want can help make the buying process a breeze. When looking to purchase a property, look at what your agent has listed or helped buyers purchase in the past. I’ve listed and helped as a buyer’s agent in luxury, residential, waterfront, commercial and other types of properties. Having an agent that has knowledge and a proven background in what you want to buy ensures a smooth process. It also doesn’t hurt to check out an agent’s Zillow or Facebook pages to see what properties and clientele they work with to find the right fit. Reviews can also be useful! But, trust me; I know I can help you find the PERFECT property!

 

Buying a property brings in a roller coaster of emotions. Doing homework ahead of time and keeping expectations clear between the buyer and the real estate agent can make this exciting journey a simpler one. These five simple steps to take care of before calling me to be your real estate agent helps set you, the buyer, up for success when looking for a property. Call Bethany Nolan with Murray Real Estate Services, LLC to get started on your house hunting today!

 

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.