Where did this summer go? In just a few short weeks, kids will be heading back to school. With that new season comes a whole new set of challenges for parents.
From after-school sports to early-morning wake-up calls, life is about to get hectic.
Here are some of our favorite tips to prepare for the busy time ahead:
The first day of school is always challenging – but it’s a lot easier if you prepare in advance.
- Ease into the new schedule. After months of summer relaxation, the kids likely aren’t used to a strict routine anymore. Start waking them up a little earlier every day (and getting them to bed a little earlier at night) to prepare them for the upcoming change.
- Create a calendar. From school functions to music lessons to sports, each school year is jam-packed with meetings and activities. Make sure you don’t miss out on Back To School Night or the first day of baseball practice by putting them on the calendar now.
- Go shopping. Most schools will mail out a supply list or post one on their website, but even if they don’t, there are a few basics you know you’re going to need. Grab all the essentials now so you’re not left scrambling at the last minute. Must haves typically include: #2 pencils, a pencil case, pencil sharpener, index cards, and at least one notebook and one 3-ring binder.
Prepare for Change
The start of the year can always be frightening, but especially for children who are starting a new school. Whether you moved to a different neighborhood, or they just bumped up a grade, new schools mean new friends, new schedules, and new teachers.
Here are some things you can do to help them prepare:
- Be an ally. Speak to your child about how they’re feeling and what concerns they have. Help them work through their nerves by talking it out.
- Be prepared. Find out early where the new bus stop is. Know when school starts and ends, and what the procedure is for early dismissal days. Find out what extracurriculars will be available in the fall and sign up now if possible. Knowing what to expect can make a world of difference!
- Find friends now. One of the hardest parts of starting a new school is having to make all new friends. By joining summer sports teams or camps, or hanging out at local parks and playgrounds, you give your child the opportunity to meet some friendly faces before the big day comes.
Find the Right School
If you’ve recently moved or your child is just entering kindergarten, you may be wondering how to find the right school.
If they are entering public school, you should contact the local school board as soon as possible. They will tell you where to go to register and what documents are needed. Typically, your child will be assigned to whatever school is closest to your home.
If they are entering a private school, there is a lot more to consider. When researching schools, you should consider:
- Your child’s learning style (Do they like to learn alone or in groups? Do they do better with a strict schedule? Do they prefer hands-on learning? Etc.)
- Any special needs (Does your child have ADHD? Are they dyslexic? Do they have physical limitations?)
- The location of the school (How far are you willing to travel from home? Is your child ok with taking a bus?)
Once you have a list of criteria, you can research schools within your area and narrow down the options.
Through planning and organization, you can ensure a smooth start to the school year. Can you think of anything we didn’t cover in our article? How are you preparing for the year ahead?
When it comes to upgrading your home with the latest technology, your garage is likely to be the last thing on your radar. But as electric vehicles and even self-driving cars are hitting the road across the country, real estate listings are touting smart garages in high-tech cities like Palo Alto, California and Austin, Texas. Not to mention the simple fact that garage tech can boost security and convenience for your home, no matter what kind of car you drive. Here, we outline four of the simplest things you can do to make your garage smarter.
1. Learn about internet-connected devices you can install in your garage.
There are all kinds of benefits to installing internet-connected systems in and around your garage — from opening and closing your garage door remotely, to using cameras to monitor your garage, to checking up on your car from anywhere in the world. How’s that for convenience?
These internet-connected devices don’t have to be complicated, either. In fact, they’re designed for your ease of use. You can find smart add-ons for your existing garage door opener, or if you want to go all out (and potentially obtain additional security and other features), you can purchase a brand new, high-tech garage door system with all the bells and whistles.
2. Install motion-sensor lights and security cameras near your garage and other entryways.
Since most thieves like to do their dirty work in the dark, motion-sensor lights can be an effective deterrent to a garage break-in. And if you have security cameras installed too, the police may be able to better identify the perps — if anything ever does happen.
Plus, these easy upgrades can add major market value to your home if you’re looking to put it on the market in the future.
3. Think about the future.
You may still be driving a gas-powered car, but plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles are becoming increasingly attractive and affordable to modern car-buyers — especially as states like Texas are offering rebate programs for vehicle replacements to EVs. If you think there’s a chance that you could make the switch in the near future, it’s a good idea to get your garage ready by installing an appropriate outlet or 240-volt battery charger. Many cities and states (including Texas) also offer assistance to help drivers purchase and install a charging station at home. You could also enjoy reduced utility charges, depending on where you live.
Keep in mind that driverless cars will be a common sight in American garages too, as lawmakers are clearing the way for the new technology in Austin and Arlington. Experts have suggested that this shift will transform the real estate market, including the size and functionality of garages.
4. Make sure your homeowners’ insurance is up to snuff.
It’s pretty obvious that your garage door is one of the more exposed areas of your home —when it comes to potential intruders, but also when it comes to bad weather. If a covered incident like a windstorm, fire, break-in, or vandalism occurs, standard homeowners insurance has your back.
Just be sure to purchase enough insurance coverage to completely rebuild your home from the ground up in case catastrophe happens, since your policy will only pay out the maximum limits you choose. The last thing you want after a disaster strikes is extra bills to pay just to get your home back in working order.
Return on Investment
Going all out with brand new, high-tech garage devices is admittedly an investment up front. But when it comes to peace of mind knowing your home and your family are safe, a smart garage could be worth every dime — not to mention the fact that it could boost your resale value in an increasingly connected world.
Haden Kirkpatrick is the director of marketing strategy and innovation at Esurance, where he is responsible for initiatives related to product and service innovation. He is constantly thinking about technology changes impacting the insurance industry, and following innovation taking place in high-tech hot spots such as Palo Alto, California and Austin, Texas.
This is not your typical architect’s book about design. There’s no obscure language nor design-for-design’s-sake ideas. It is a practical, down-to-earth guide that walks anyone through the rational process of how to remodel your house to get the home you want, from how to think about your house and overcoming hurdles to a list of “Duo’s Do’s and Don’ts” for the homeowner. Along the way, there’s plenty of nice before-and-after photos to help explain the points. Do read the book. You’ll be glad you did.
The Taunton Press Inc, original photo on Houzz
The cover says it all. The ubiquitous photo of a gorgeous, award-winning home that’s beyond most of us is replaced with images of a saw, cup of morning joe and a to-do list.
Are you staying put yourself? Read on for 8 of Dickinson’s suggestions.
Mick Hales, original photo on Houzz
Consider the compass points. The tips and illustrated examples are wonderfully straightforward. For example, we see a house that gets overheated, the siding degrades and the front door bakes in the sun because it all faces south.
Dickinson’s common-sense advice: Rework the front of the house with a new wide porch that shades the front door and some smaller, yet well-sized windows to create a lot more curb appeal while reducing maintenance and energy consumption. It’s a triple win: more beauty and comfort with less cost.
Avoid gutters. Statements such as “gutters and leaders are devout to be avoided” may sound like heresy to many but certainly are the truth. Proving his point, Dickinson illustrates how a properly-built roof overhang can shed all the water it must without the complications, such as ice dams, caused by gutters.
Embrace small moves. Dickinson provides a wealth of simple solutions illustrated with before-and-after photos. He shows how to use small moves for big dividends, such as taking out a wall between a kitchen and a hallway to make room for more kitchen storage.
Mick Hales, original photo on Houzz
Enhance curb appeal. The book offers solutions to common problems with a particular style, such as how to improve and enhance an entrance into a split-level home.
Open up to the outside. Dickinson provides some excellent examples of how we can use modern windows and doors to strengthen the connection between inside and outside. Our homes, says Dickinson, no longer need be “later-day caves.”
Find your home. Learning more about the style of the house you have will help you avoid obstacles in remodeling and recognize the best opportunities for improving your particular home.
Mick Hales, original photo on Houzz
Open up the inside. Snippets of advice sprinkled throughout the book are like refreshing raindrops that clear the cobwebs away. One such snippet: “If you walk through a room to get to a room, something is wrong.” You know — it’s when that new great room gets added to a modest house, and the result is some kind of dyslexic creature that’s really two houses rather than one.
So rather than even building an addition, Dickinson suggests you make the most of what you already have. In this example, widening the opening between rooms strengthens this room’s connection with the rest of the home, increasing its utility and spaciousness.
The Taunton Press Inc, original photo on Houzz
Work with what you’ve got (before): Keeping the kitchen size the same while vaulting the ceiling dramatically increases the overall spaciousness of the room, as you’ll see in the next photo.
Mick Hales, original photo on Houzz
Work with what you’ve got (after): Walls, doors, appliances and even the skylight and kitchen sink were all left where they were. This all avoided costly plumbing, electrical and mechanical work and rework.
The Taunton Press Inc, original photo on Houzz
Working with what you’ve got (plans): Dickinson has included before-and-after floor plans for many of the examples. These plans help provide that much more context, allowing the reader to better understand what they may be able to do with the home they already have.
In today’s market, it can be difficult convincing potential buyers and sellers that they need a real estate professional. Some people, for various reasons, don’t trust agents. And with websites like Trulia and Zillow rising in popularity, many people feel like they can handle things on their own.
What they don’t realize is that representing yourself can lead to liability, lost money, and wasted time.
Here’s how you persuade them to turn to you when the time comes:
You Understand The Paperwork
Let’s face it – even for a seasoned professional, all the paperwork involved in a real estate transaction can be intimidating.
But for someone who’s never dealt with it before? Forget about it.
The list of required forms varies from state-to-state, plus it can change at any time with the introduction of new laws. It’s a lot for a novice to keep track of.
Next time you run into someone who’s on the fence, ask them if they know what to look for in an inspection response, or how to customize a contract. Chances are, they do not – and they could use your help.
You Know How The Market
Is there anything worse than trying to sell a house and having it sit on the market for months (or longer)?
For the seller who is waiting to move, it can be a truly stressful experience.
Unfortunately, if they’re not familiar with the market, it can be difficult to move the house. Even worse, they may not get a fair price: in 2017, the typical FSBO home sold for $190,000 compared to $249,000 for agent-assisted home sales.
As a seasoned professional, you know the market and what people are looking for. You know how to set the right price, how to advertise, and which features to highlight. And, you know how to make the whole thing run smoothly.
You Come With Backup
Unfortunately, the world of real estate is rife with potential hardships.
From the seller who tries to hide a leaky roof, to the buyer who backs out at the very last minute, you don’t know what might happen.
As a real estate professional, you can recognize many potential issues and handle them before they ever even become a problem. And if they do become a problem, you have a wealth of resources at your disposal.
Lawyers, inspectors, contractors, insurance agents – even if they’re not a part of your team, you know them. And you can get an expert opinion on a moment’s notice.
Bottom line: most people wouldn’t even consider buying a used car without the advice of an expert. So why would they buy (or sell) a home without one?
Real estate transactions are some of the most important decisions a person will ever make in their life, and there’s a lot on the line. There are too many potential pitfalls and problems to tackle on your own without any experience.
Sure, the Average Joe might do “ok” when trying to purchase or sell their own home – but you’ll do great. Why? Because you know what it takes.
Excessive messiness can lead to stress and anxiety – yet many of us don’t know how to rid our homes of the clutter that causes such worry. Often, it’s not as easy as just picking up trash or unwanted items and throwing them away – much of what we accumulate over the years holds sentimental value and fond memories and can be difficult to part with.
So how do you decide what stays and what goes? How do you determine which items hold real value, and which are just taking up space?
There are several theories on the matter, but we’ve researched three of the most popular. Below is a brief synopsis of each, so you can decide whether or not they’ll work for you.
Created by organizing consultant Marie Kondo, the KonMarie method promises to greatly simplify your life. How? Clean your house once and never do it again. Really!
Marie says that traditional ideas on tidying up – such as throwing out one old item for every new piece you bring into the house or storing out-of-season clothing in bins – are more problematic than they are helpful. In the end, they all just lead to more… stuff. You never actually get rid of anything!
Her solution? One massive, no-holds-barred cleaning sweep. Lose anything that doesn’t bring you joy, anything that doesn’t contribute to your overall purpose in life. Though it sounds complicated, it’s really a simple process – you can read more about it in her book.
Created by the minds behind BNeato Bar, the Numbers and Need method is…well, exactly what it sounds like! Simply go through your house and, room by room, determine how many of each specific type of item you have. For instance, do you have 18 coffee mugs? Do you really need them? Unless you have 16 children or you’re running a B&B, chances are you’re never going to need more than, say 4.
Once you start, you’ll be surprised at how many of each item you actually have. When you pull out all your DVDs, or all your pens and pencils, or all your summer shoes and pile them up together – it can be astounding. People often accumulate things without realizing how much they have.
Organizer Fay Wolfe believes that de-cluttering isn’t just about the actual stuff you have laying around the house – it’s also about what’s in your mind. Of course, we all want a neater home – and that’s what we’re here to talk about – but organization doesn’t start by sorting things out. It begins by sorting YOU out.
Fay believes that disorganization is the product of a cluttered mind – fear, excuses, reasons for not beginning the process – and you can’t sort out your stuff until you sort out your thoughts. Her book is all about developing the basic skills to help get you started.
What are your thoughts on decluttering? Have any of these methods worked for you? Let us know in the comments!
2018 selling season is upon us! If you have clients getting ready to put their home on the market, the list of to-dos can seem endless. You may wonder if it’s all worth it, but the fact is, a well-cared-for house shows better. Plus, small issues like flaking paint or a dripping faucet can make buyers wonder what bigger problems await them down the road. Don’t let easily-fixed issues derail your selling process.
Here is a list of 8 things you can do right now to ensure a great first impression:
Keep up yard maintenance
It can be tempting to ignore the lawn and walkways, especially if the client has already vacated the property, but this is the first thing a potential buyer will see. Grass, weeds, and overgrown shrubs can create a sloppy, unkempt appearance before the buyer even looks at the inside of the home. Keep things neat and tidy for a good impression up front.
Clean the gutters
Overflowing gutters can lead to cracked walls and damage to the foundation, in addition to just looking messy. The last thing you want a potential buyer to see is water pooling around the outside of the house, or worse – in the basement. Routinely check for leaves, pine needles and other debris that can lead to unsightly – and dangerous – leaks.
Service the heating/cooling system
If the HVAC system hasn’t been used in a while, it can smell funky when you first turn it on, make frightening sounds, or just straight-up not work – none of which leave a great impression. Before showing a home, have the heating/cooling system serviced, clean the ductwork and filters, and make sure everything is in good working order.
In addition, if there is a working fireplace, take care of that at the same time. Clean the chimney to remove any dirt or debris, and block off the flue to avoid and unwanted houseguests (squirrels and bats just love to come in uninvited!).
Replace all the lightbulbs
This is one of those things that is so super simple to do but often overlooked. Imagine taking a client for a showing after dark, flipping on the switch in the master bedroom … and nothing. For a very minimal investment, all light bulbs in the house could be replaced and any embarrassing incidents avoided.
Wash the windows
Dirty windows and screens can be quite unappealing and leave a bad impression on anyone looking at your house. Cleaning all the windows, sills, and treatments will not only make the house look neat and tidy but will allow in the best possible natural light.
Fix up any interior cosmetic imperfections
Chipped paint, dents in the drywall, and scratches in hardwood are easily fixed but can make a poor impression. A buyer doesn’t want to see a lot of little problems that they’ll have to fix down the road. It is not only an inconvenience for them, but makes them wonder about what larger issues may lie hidden in the house.
Deep clean and declutter
The difference between showing a home that has been cleaned and staged and one that has not is night and day. Clean the floors, polish the furniture, put clean linens on the beds – and, most of all, make sure the kitchen and the bathrooms are immaculate. These two areas, more than anything else, are scrutinized by buyers, and they will judge. After all, would you want to bathe in a moldy tub?
Appearance is everything when it comes to selling a home, and with just a little time and effort, you can make sure you get the most out of every single listing.
For over 40 years, Windermere has been putting relationships before sales quotas. Part of that is our unwavering support of our sales team. Our community of real estate professionals is our greatest asset. They are the reason we can offer better service than anyone else in the market, and we aim to keep it that way. We strive to not only hire the best people but to give them the best tools – from innovation and technology to professional development.
At Windermere, we take a holistic approach to agent education. What does that mean? Providing them with systems and tools proven to increase profitability, making them industry experts, and teaching them to give the type of service a client expects. With onsite live-learning workshops, online training, and weekly coaching right in the office, we make sure all bases are covered.
Some of our Professional Development courses include:
Get Your License:
For those considering a career change, our pre-licensing course offers everything needed to complete training, take the state exam, and get licensed. Our revolutionary approach to learning makes it easy to succeed. Other benefits include:
- Age of content – We frequently update our material, offering only the most innovative ideas and learning approaches
- Online forum – delivers content in an engaging and interactive way, on your schedule
- Education methods – we use the latest in adult learning science to develop a revolutionary experience
- Pass rates – we pride ourselves on having one of the highest pass rates in the industry
- Money back guarantee – pass your state exam or get your money back, guaranteed
Whether you’re just starting out, or you’re a seasoned pro, we endeavor to help you meet your goals at every step of your career. At Windermere, we have something to meet everyone’s needs, whether you prefer working in the classroom or online. CE courses are available for every state, with topics including everything from CORE training to client engagement. In addition, we believe that part of great success is giving back. So, with every purchase you make, we donate a backpack of food to help feed a hungry child in your community.
If you’re looking for a life-changing course, this is it! In just four days, you will receive a plan and process for creating a sustainable business that thrives in every market. Our strategies are derived from the researched and documented methodologies of the nation’s top real estate agents. The Ninja process has been shown to increase agent profitability by 35.87% ahead of the market!
- Creating an effective marketing plan
- Building your database
- Working with sellers
- Working with buyers
- Evaluating property
Through a partnership with Windermere, our agents receive a 30% discount on Katie Lance’s nationally recognized program. This social media program, tailored to meet the needs of real estate agents, has helped hundreds improve their business. Benefits include access to an extensive online library, a private Facebook group where you can get advice from other members, and live monthly Q&A sessions.
Our programs reflect our commitment to providing our agents with the best training in the industry. It is because of them that we are able to provide our buyers and sellers with an unprecedented level of service, seldom seen elsewhere.
Windermere Certified Listings is a one-of-a-kind, customer-focused real estate program. Our mission is to provide superior service to all our clients throughout the selling process. This truly unique system was designed to reduce the uncertainty and friction that commonly occur during a typical real estate transaction, making it rewarding, predictable, and enjoyable. Throughout the process, both our home sellers and the end buyers feel unmatched confidence and peace of mind.
Our thorough 10-step process includes the following:
A 5-Point Pre-Inspection of the Major Components of the Home – Our exhaustive process helps assure the buyer that there are no major surprises in store and gives the seller an opportunity to correct issues before the house goes to market. Inspection points include:
- Roof – general conditions, skylight, and flashings
- Exterior – general conditions of siding, sealants, grade and drainage
- Mechanical – furnace, air-conditioner, water heater and water main shut-off
- Electrical – main distribution panels and sub-panels
- Structural – trusses, joists and foundation
Professional Home Cleaning Package – Every home is completed by a professional team of two or more house cleaners. The detailed process includes:
- Cleansing of most surfaces
- Floors vacuumed, scrubbed, and mopped
- Bathrooms cleaned including tubs, sinks, and toilets
- Home staging (in select regions) to eliminate clutter, rearrange furniture to enhance flow, and create a notable first impression.
Our professional photographers will provide you with vivid and beautiful images designed to sell your home faster. Professional real estate photography is proven to increase showings and lead to speedier sales. Each photo passes through over 25 enhancement and processing steps to correct lens distortion, white balance, perspective, and saturation. No other company combines art and real estate in this way!
Top-notch marketing is a necessity in today’s fast-paced, technology driven world of real estate. The National Association of Realtors found that 75% of people start their home-buying search online – that’s why in addition to traditional methods, we include a solid real estate internet marketing plan as part of your overall strategy. Our multi-level, multi-platform real estate marketing plan leaves our sellers assured that their property is receiving the best advertising possible. Examples include:
- Professionally installed sign
- Expertly designed and printed property brochure
- Social media marketing
- Virtual tour for buyers to view online
- Open house marketing in local venues
- … and much more!
Selling a home can be stressful. Let Windermere save you time and energy by handling all the worrying details. With us on your side, you can sell with confidence knowing that everything has been taken care of.
Contact us today to find out how we can help you.
At Windermere, we take great pride in the service and support we provide to our sales agents. Through many conversations with our team at Windermere East, it became clear that we needed to focus more on builder services. A number of them had spent their entire career focusing on new home sales but felt that they needed a little more reinforcement. Our solution? We created an entirely new division.
Our Builder Solutions program brings deep sophistication and builder expertise together. For our sales team, it serves as a foundation, allowing them to provide outstanding support to our builder partners. For our partners, it offers professional marketing, sales, and operational support through all stages of new home sales.
How do we do this?
We have the best sales manual in the country.
We can safely say that our sales training manual blows all the rest out of the water. Ours is the only sales manual to come out in the last 5 – 6 years, and it’s based on the most up-to-date consumer patterns. To create it, we brought together leaders from various national builder companies and merged and purged the best tools they had to offer. The manual is delivered through a web portal, so training can be conducted onsite wherever you are.
We find ways the agents themselves can drive onsite traffic.
Sales agents spend a lot of time sitting around in the office – that’s a fact. We figured out how to convert that downtime into traffic-driving activity. Our Sales Associate Marketing Initiative (SAMI) gives agents activities they can do onsite to help drive traffic. This not only helps the bottom line, but it gives agents a sense of empowerment by influencing their own performance with minimal time invested.
We increase conversion through our NHS Ops Cycle.
This series of reports, including an asset 180, competition studies, a SWOT analysis, and more, is delivered by the sales agent once a quarter.
We run a top-tier online training portal.
Our training portal, New Home Connect, allows all materials to be delivered in person by an agent or online for your convenience. Available courses include POS training, demonstrating product, creating emotional connections, on-target marketing training, driving traffic and much more.
WBS is a proven solution. In one case study, New Home Stars received a 31% increase in performance after introducing the program. We give builders many of the benefits of an in-house sales team, but with the added value that comes from partnering with one of the largest regional real estate companies in the nation. The results benefit both builders and buyers of newly constructed homes.
With more than 7,000 agents who operate in markets throughout the Western U.S. and Mexico, Windermere knows your market. We draw upon the expertise of these local agents while providing them with state-of-the-art new home sales tools and resources. The result is hyper-focused attention on new home sales combined with a local presence across all the markets where our builder-clients do business.
Contact us today to find out how we can help you.
For years now, the economy has been extremely sluggish and hard to predict. But now, things seem to be heading in the opposite direction with bright prospects on the horizon. This is especially true of the real estate market that is starting to show signs of bouncing back significantly.
In the Metro Denver area during 2016, there were over $22 billion in total sales, which translates to a 9% increase from the year before. Because of the vigorous sales, more people are looking to cash in on this by putting their house on the market. More houses is an opportunity for more real estate agents, which means Windermere Real Estate is expanding.
We now have five offices and are looking to recruit people who are interested in choosing a career in the exciting world of real estate. We are currently recruiting for our 4 locations that have opened this year: Boulder, Littleton, Aurora and our new expansion in Palm Springs, California.
For years, the Denver area has been a hotspot for real estate development and listings. But now, the market is expanding into formerly underdeveloped areas such as Littleton and Aurora. Windermere is expanding with those areas. As the market expands and we grow with it, we are also looking for people in the area who want to develop their skills in the real estate industry. We do this through a multi-prong approach.
First, we offer a variety of educational and training opportunities at all of our branches. That means, no matter what area you are located in, there should be a training program that you can get into. Additionally, these professional developments are available in a variety of formats including short seminars and online sessions. We try to be flexible with our opportunities for people to grow with us by giving them every opportunity at all of our branches.
Windermere feels that real estate is a business model that is a great way to create your own pathway to financial independence and success. The expansion of these new offices gives even more opportunities for people to get in on the ground level of what could possibly be the next burgeoning housing market in the country. Through our various programs now in both Colorado and California including our Leadership Academies, you can begin a new career in a field that you can truly allow you to thrive.