Lawn Maintenance and Care for Real Estate Staging: Make Great First Impressions


First impressions do count when it comes to home buyers, especially in a buyer’s market. A buyer pulling up to the home for the first time will either be impressed or skeptical. Make his or her first impression count by cleaning and sprucing up your yard. Lawn maintenance takes time, but a well-kept yard can help make a good impression on potential home buyers. Making a good first impression on the home buyer with an attractive exterior will help spark interest in your house.

Some of these real estate marketing tips may seem obvious to some, but you would be surprised at how many home sellers neglect these aspects of lawn maintenance and overall care of their yard.


Lawn Maintenance for Real Estate Staging


  1. Get Rid of Old Vehicles


If you your yard has become a resting place for Uncle Bob’s old car, that old tractor, or any other vehicles or equipment, remove them. Either find a better place to store them, or have them removed from your yard.


Call a place which buys broken down cars or farm equipment. They will come to your house and remove the large items. Some will pay you $75-$100 because they can recycle the old cars or equipment for parts. Check your local phone book for listings of car parts dealers or auto recyclers.


At the very least, store all large items together, in the back of the yard, not on the side of the house or in the front of the house. A prospective home buyer does not want to have to consider the idea that they may be stuck cleaning up these items from the yard. Removing them is one way to do real estate staging in your yard, which can help increase your house’s chance of selling.


  1. Broken Fences


Another way to apply the concept of real estate staging to your yard is to make any minor repairs to broken fences that surround your yard. Fences with broken doors, missing wooden slots, or that do not close can detract from the attractiveness of your home.


  1. Seasonal Yard Clean Up


Staying on top of seasonal yard clean up during all seasons of the year is another way to use real estate staging to help sell your house. This means removing snow and ice from walkways and driveways. If you do not have the driveway cleared of snow, the potential home buyers may not know where they could park their cars if they bought the house.


This also means raking and cleaning up tree debris during the fall, in areas with deciduous trees.


If you do not have the time or the equipment to do a solid yard clean up, hire a local landscaping company to do the clean up for you. The money you spend on a landscape company will be worth it when you sell your house.


  1. Tame the Garbage


Keep the garbage cans and recycling bins in back of the house, or on out of sight somewhere. This is especially important on the weekends when you have an open house, or when potential home buyers will be viewing the home.


Building a small fence or having a separate area for recycling bins and garbage cans is one way to do real estate staging in your yard, which can help maximize your house’s attractiveness to potential buyers, and increase the chance of a real estate sale.


  1. Clear the Front of the House


Remove scraggly trees, overgrown bushes and unattractive plants which grow close to the house. An empty space is better than an unattractive plant which screams “I need a lot of maintenance.”


When you clear the yard spaces near the house, you leave the potential home buyer with the concept of opportunity, based on the open spaces.

The Best Tips for Real Estate in Today’s Market

The real estate market has undergone some extensive overhauls in the last few decades. Most real estate investors, whether for personal or financial gain, know that real estate professionals must be licensed to be able to sell, lease or provide consultation as a real estate agent. What many people do not know is the extensive work Realtors must do to stay licensed as a real estate agent. Every two years Realtors must undergo mandated continuing education in order to renew their licenses. Recently, in the last decade, the mandated education criteria has in fact increased to include a required class on ethics every two years. The Congress has made this issue a mandate as the laws regarding ethics change on a continual basis. This ethics laws mandate was created to protect the buyers and sellers of real property. This was done in part due to previous ethical issues that arose in the housing market of the late 80’s and early 90’s when questions regarding client representation and disclosure of information to buyers and sellers became a more pronounced issue.

Previous to these law changes buyer’s were guaranteed to be treated with fairness, but the primary representation and client responsibility was always from the realtor to the seller or property owners as they were always the obligatory payer of the commission. This has changed now so that buyers and sellers are represented in transactions and this is clearly defined. This was done to ensure there are no clouded loyalties. The seller’s and property owner’s are still the primary payer of commissions however now both parties are equally represented in all transactions. The law however, does include an exception. There is now defined what is called “Dual Agency”. This allows buyers and sellers to be represented by the same agent as long as there is disclosure and agreement among all parties. This basically means the agent simply guides each party through their portion of the agreement and does not influence either party’s decisions regarding the actual contract itself. It is handled this way quite frequently and is nothing to be concerned with as the realtor must by law be fair to both parties.


In today’s ever changing real estate market the following information can be very important for prospective and current property owners:


When engaging in a real estate transaction, make sure to define who will be representing you and ask what that representation entails.


Be thorough in deciphering what your specific transaction requires from you in regards to financing, credit, legal obligations etc., your realtor should be able to help with all aspects of this.


Assess your long and short term goals regarding your life and how real estate can help you. Define which goals real estate can help you accomplish and which ones are most important to you.


If purchasing, selling or leasing property prioritize and define as best you can what your needs are. Decipher what things you are willing to compromise on and what things you cannot compromise on. Be prepared however that most transactions require a certain degree of compromise from all parties involved.


Also, don’t assume that name reputation for financing etc. necessarily ensures you the best quality. Check around for what best suits your needs and verify that the company is reputable. It is recommended this philosophy be followed when seeking a realtor as well.


Even in this difficult real estate market you can be assured of a few things. First, realtors have to by law watch out for your rights. Second, remember real estate is not just location, location and location anymore. In today’s current market, it has become more a lesson to prioritize, prioritize, and prioritize. Lastly, remember that inevitably the market will change and recover, not unlike stocks it is simply a cycle that must work its way through.

HAMP is a Failure for the San Diego Real Estate Market


The treasury department’s Home Affordability Modification Program (HAMP) was touted as nothing short of an antibiotic to the growing foreclosure pathogen. Lenders were given a modest incentive to modify the failing loans and keep borrowers in their homes. While certainly a lofty goal the HAMP modifications do nothing to address the underlying, systemic problems facing the San Diego housing market.

Recently we were given the opportunity to look at purchasing several hundred loans that are both performing and have been modified under HAMP. The way these loans were rewritten is absolutely staggering and can be interpreted as little more than political grandstanding to delay the inevitable.


Imagine that a homeowner owes $100 on their home. They borrowed the money in 2004 – 2007, in the height of the housing crisis. Now their home is worth $50 in 2010. The HAMP modifications rewrite the loan to a 2% interest rate accruing on a $50 principal balance for 60 months. After that time the loan essentially returns to the original payment structure with the full $100 principal balance.


In essence, in five years, the homeowner’s payment quadruples and they owe everything they owed at the height of the market.


Do you see the problem? For these to be successful in the long run (or short run, depending on how you define five years) housing prices must return to near their bubble levels and they must do it quickly.


Unfortunately for homeowners in San Diego that seems a dubious claim. Voice of San Diego reported that home prices fell again in October. Albeit by a scant 1.6%, any decrease in prices only exacerbates the HAMP homeowner’s extremely troubling problem.


While nothing is ever for certain, there is a very real possibility the San Diego housing market, especially in price points over $500,000 is in the midst of a double dip. If the market is experiencing the early signs of a double dip or if housing prices remain stagnant the reality of the situation says that at the end of the five year modification those homeowners who overreached at the height of the housing bubble are going to default again.


What this means is that the foreclosure “crisis” has a real possibility of becoming something chronic that the market is simply going to have to get used to. When foreclosures continue because of these types of artificial market operations it seems likely that housing prices over the next decade will have a difficult time rebounding in any meaningful way.


The better option available for homeowners is not to modify into a loan they can’t afford now and won’t be able to afford in five years, but to bite the bullet and sell the home now. Resetting housing prices in San Diego in the short term needs to be a priority for San Diego real estate professionals, politicians and citizens alike.

How a Wrap Around Mortgage Works


A wrap around mortgage or an all inclusive trust deed is a way to purchase real estate with out having to qualify for a traditional mortgage. This offers a way for some people to buy real estate that normally would not be able to. It also offers some very beneficial perks to a seller to motivate them to use this type of seller financing. This is extremely helpful way to save your self loan fees and closing fees. As the real estate parcel does not have to go through the typical lending process. It is not with out its set of problems as well.

This type of mortgages works because the seller still owes money on the property but still wants to sell. The seller makes the agreement with the buyer for higher interest rate than he is paying and sometimes a larger payment as well. This allows the seller to earn extra money on the deal each month, However it does not alleviate the seller from continuing to pay his mortgage. This leaves the buyer still on the hook for the payments with the security of being able to foreclose on the property if they should need to. This agreement to sell is between the buyer and seller and in no way changes the terms and conditions the seller has with his/her original mortgage.


Some of the benefits to the Buyer include: they may not need to come up with a large down payment. If the seller has a low interest rate your rate is more likely to be lower then the interest rate that the buyer could originally qualify for. Since the contract is usually done through an escrow company, it can be set up that they pay the original loan first before sending the buyer the difference. This insures that the seller does not default on the original loan while you are still making payments.


This type of mortgages in not legal is some states so you need to do your homework. If you violate your state laws it can leave you having more legal issues then you could ever want. The seller also needs to read his mortgage agreement to make sure this type of deal dose not violate the original mortgage. If you are caught violating your mortgage it can cause your mortgage company to cause a lot of legal troubles up to your mortgage company to demand satisfaction of their loan immediately.


So this type of mortgage is very beneficial to both parties as long as you do your homework. Making sure that this type of mortgage is valid both with the state laws and the original mortgage holder.

How to Get a Real Estate License

Real estate agent and broker students can participate in traditional classroom courses, or online classes to become eligible to sit for a licensure examination. Students must pass a background examination, as well as both state and national portions of the test before lawfully beginning the practice of real estate.

Hondros College offers educational courses for real estate agents, and brokers. Hondros College is the largest real estate educational center in Ohio, with multiple locations around the state to serve adult learners. Real estate broker courses and continuing education courses for real estate agents are offered both in the classroom and online. Monthly payment plans and financial aid are available for qualifying students. Courses can be taken individually, or through a package plan, which includes all books and a “crammer” course prior to taking the real estate examination.


Hondros College


(888) Hondros (466-3767)

4140 Executive Parkway

Westerville, OH 43081


Allied Online School offers real estate courses honored in Florida, California, Georgia, Utah, Wisconsin, Texas, Wyoming, Virginia, and Washington State. Students can register for real estate sales agent, broker, or appraisal courses. Continuing education courses are also available. This online school is a member of the Distance Education and Training Council, and recognized by the United States Department of Education accrediting council.


Allied Schools

22952 Alcalde Drive

Laguna Hills, CA 92653


American Public University offers online courses for real estate study. Students can select courses in real estate sales, management, property appraisal, mortgage, or home inspection. Students earn an Associate of Arts in Real Estate after successful completion of the program, and receive a grant for the purchase of books after registration. In addition to state required real estate courses, students must take additional college level general courses to earn this degree. Financial aid is available for qualifying students.


American Public University

111 West Congress Street

Charles Town WV 25414

(877) 777-9081


Mary L Hurst University offers real estate course programs designed to be completed in 24 months. Students earn an associate degree in real estate by taking either traditional classroom or online courses. This online university is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education. Students interact with professors and classmates via online forums and through email.


Mary Hurst University

17600 Pacific Highway 43

Mary Hurst, OR 97036-0261

(866) 278-3965


Courses at the California License Center follow the state principles of real estate sales curriculum. The course takes a minimum of 18 days to complete, but must be successfully accomplished in a maximum of six months to gain approval to sit for a state licensure examination. Once completed, the pre-licensure completion certificate does not expire. Online continuing education courses, as well as real estate broker and appraisal classes also available.


California License Center Online

6701 Center Drive West Suite 510

Los Angeles, CA 90045

(888) 774-6300


Sources used for this article include personal experience as a real estate student at Hondros College, the Hondros College website, American Public University website, Mary L. Hurst College website, and the California Real Estate License website.

Taking Advantage of the Current Florida Real Estate Market

There is the opportunity of a lifetime in the Florida real estate market at the present time. With an unbelievably low interest rate, far below prime, there are many different types of loans available. It gives everyone the opportunity to take advantage of this once in a lifetime chance to obtain a home at a payment that is less then rent and have his or her very own home.

Currently, there are a large number of Florida mortgage loans available to purchase homes in this area. There are FHA, FA, banks and other lenders who have programs available to fit any prospective home buyer. It is possible to obtain a fixed rate mortgage or an adjustable rate mortgage.

While the adjustable FL mortgage offers better rates at the current time, one should remember that when interest rates go up so does the interest on the mortgage. This means the payments can increase with no recourse to the borrower. With a fixed rate mortgage, the payment and interest will remain the same to the end of the loan.

As with any loan, the borrower must be qualified to show they are responsible and can make the payments. A credit check will be conducted so one should have a good record of paying their bills. In addition, if there ever was a bankruptcy involved there are certain restrictions depending on the circumstances and how long ago it was.

A good employment record and show of income is another requirement. In most cases, the amount of the house payment should not be more than 30% of one’s income. This is to make sure one does not have financial problems with other obligations that would affect the loan payment.

Information regarding loans, rates and other information can be obtained from a Florida mortgage broker, lender, bank or Federal agencies. Any one at these facilities can give full details regarding the current interest rate, closing costs or fees, type of loans and so forth. One can also look on the Internet and obtain some information.

Florida is a fantastic place to live. The access to its many beautiful beaches and its ideal weather makes it a very attractive place to spend one’s life. If children are involved, there are excellent educational facilities available from kindergarten through college. With a number of large cities, as well as open country, one has the opportunity to live in either location.

The opportunity for personal recreation is excellent, with swimming, surfing, fishing and other types of facilities. There is something for every age and interest. The current Florida real estate market is a chance that will never come again for a person to own a home in an ideal location that cannot be matched anywhere else in the world. The current price of homes and low interest rate make it possible for anyone to own the home of their dreams and no longer be obligated to pay rent. Many times the loan payment is less than the rent one is currently paying, offering an opportunity to have a home that is dream come true.

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent can be as important as purchasing a car. You should know the history of the company, the agent, and what their percentage on sales is.

There are a few questions that you should always ask before hiring a real estate agent. These questions are questions that a lot of people will forget to ask and yet they are very important.

The first question that you should always ask is if they have any references. References will give you an idea of what type of agent or company that you are hiring. You wouldn’t want to get trapped with a real estate agent that doesn’t pan out to your expectations.

The next question should always be what kind of background that they have for sales. You wouldn’t want to hire a real estate agent that has only been in the business for a few months and has no experience. I do believe that everyone needs hands on training when learning a new skill but when it comes to something like this, you should want the best of the best.

The third question that you should always ask a real estate agent is how they plan to make your house stand out from the competitors. A real estate agent should always be prepared to answer this and to show you some of the details that they have laid out for your home. They should have ideas and should be up for suggestions for your. If you have an idea, bring it up and see what they say about it.

The fourth question to ask the real estate agent is why I should choose your company. They should have standards that are set and also statistics behind their company’s sale rate. This question should always be answered no matter what. If the real estate agent is unable to answer the question, ask them why.

The last thing that you should ask them is how much their services will cost you. You want to know an estimate so that you will know if they are hirer than the competitors or if their business is worth the price that they are asking. If you have decided to not go with this real estate agent, then you do not need to ask this question. This question should only be asked after you are positive that you are going to consider them as your real estate agent. If you ask this question, most of them will begin to give you quotes on the price of their services. If you are not satisfied with the price, tell them and they might work out another arrangement with you. All real estate agencies are in it for your business so that they can keep customers and most of them are willing to renegotiate the price for you.

Choosing a real estate agent is very important and you should always ask these questions when considering one. Real estate agents are accustomed to people asking these questions and most of them will come prepared with the answers to them.


Spite Fence Statutes Impact Real Estate and Neighbor Disputes

Home ownership is something that most American families look forward to at some point in their lives. Finding the perfect home involves more than shopping for the right floor plan and right school district – it also includes finding the right neighbors. For many homebuyers, surveying a neighborhood to obtain an idea about the type of neighbors you will have seems tedious and burdensome but, in the long term, it may help to ensure you find the right neighbors for your lifestyle. When neighborly disputes arise, there are many legal ramifications that may arise, including the risk for becoming involved in spite fence laws.

A spite fence is not something that most families are foreign to. While you may not know what the name for the spite fence is, there is no doubt you have probably seen one in your neighborhood or in an adjoining neighborhood. Spite fences are those fences that are erected by someone in the neighborhood simply to annoy or disgust the people, or person, around them. In many neighborhoods, spite fences are erected between the properties of two neighbors who are in dispute and often it is difficult to proof up an annoyance for the purpose of having the fence removed. This is especially true if the spite fence is made of natural materials, including shrubs, trees or natural wood fencing.


To pursue removal of a neighborhood spite fence, it will be necessary that you obtain court order that the fencing be removed. For some courts it is a difficult challenge to ascertain what is annoying and built out of spite – especially if the fence is a natural solution. Even still, when this type of fence is erected in your neighborhood, be sure to consult with a real estate attorney.


In some states, there are specific Spite Fence Statutes that will guide a judge in determining what a spite fence is and what is not. In the Statute, the general fail-safe guidelines involve the dimensions of the fence and the material the fence is made of. Therefore, if you find that you are facing spite fence litigation, be sure to consult with an attorney regarding the use of the statute in your favor.


Real estate, home ownership, and neighbor commadarie are important to your lifestyle and health outside of the workplace. When faced with potential neighbor disputes, especially regarding the exterior of your homes, be sure to know what your rights are, with regard to a spite fence, and if your state offers any statutory guidelines as a result.


Cool and Inexpensive Holiday Gifts for Your Real Estate Clients

One of the practices as a successful real estate agent is keeping in touch with past clients and staying visible to future clients. Frequent communication throughout the year with customers is essential to further building those relationships.

With the holidays rapidly approaching, sending a thoughtful gift is a great way to let past, current, and future clients know that you are still in the game-and that they are your valued customers. This small gesture is also a fantastic way to further build your personal brand and to continue marketing yourself. It may be difficult to think of inexpensive gifts to set you apart from your competition, however, there are plenty of options. To get you started, here are a few recommendations.


Personalized Photo Book. Wouldn’t it be delightful to send past clients a book of pictures of their new home? Photo books make great gifts for clients that had real estate closings during the current year. However, presenting this gift takes some planning.


If your client had the home built from the ground up, it would be great if you had pictures from the building process to closing day to moving day. On the other hand, if your client bought an existing home, include pictures of your client on closing day and moving day, as well as various pictures from the community to make an ample photo book.


Many companies offer personalized photo books for sale, such as Wal-Mart and Kodak. For about $20 to $30, you will create memories to be enjoyed for years to come and make a lasting impression on your clients.


“New Home” Money Pot. We all know how expensive buying a new home is, but if your clients are going to save their pennies, at least give them a unique, charming money pot to help them reach their goals! This gift is perfect for your prospects that are saving funds to purchase their new home. This cute present can be found on the “Gifts for Professionals” website for about $40.


If you’d like to improvise this gift, the same concept can be applied with some type of “coin holder” in the shape of a house, cookie jar, or just a plain, old piggy bank. Just don’t forget to include a personalized note somewhere on the gift with your contact information for future reference.


Gourmet Holiday Basket filled with Candy, Fruit, or Cookies. Nothing says “thank you for your business” quite like fancy sweets! Any client would be thrilled to receive a basket filled with Belgium Truffles, chocolate-covered pretzels, dipped almonds, and macadamia nut cookies.


To make this gift even more unique, look into non-standard packaging for the goodies. For example, treats packed in containers shaped like a mailbox or a house would make an even greater impression on your client than the traditional square boxes.


The price of this gift varies, depending on the size of the basket and what is included. Many companies sell a variety of gift baskets, so there are ample opportunities to shop around for the best price.


House-Shaped Desk Clock or Paperweight. This a distinctive gift that your clients will love. For about $30, you can have a classy keepsake that will never go out of style. This clock can even be engraved with your logo. Check out the stylish timepiece on Victory Store’s website for an example of this gift.


Personalized Holiday Ornaments. These can either be tree ornaments in the shape of a house (including the homeowner’s new address and the agent’s contact information on the opposite side of the ornament) or customized ornaments that include a photo of the homeowners and their new home. For future clients, the ornaments in the shape of a house work perfectly as well. Just include your contact information on one side of the ornament and include a personalized message on the opposite side (i.e. To the Clark Family, Happy Holidays!). Snapfish, a division of Hewlett-Packard and a highly rated online photo service, offers this great gift for less than $10.


Ornament-Shaped Photo Frame. Both festive and inexpensive, this is a perfect gift for all of your customers. You can customize the frame with your company’s logo and place a picture of the client’s home in the frame (the home you helped them purchase, of course). For prospects that haven’t yet purchased their new place, include a picture of a well-known highlight from the city in which they live (or in the city where they are looking to live). These frames are less than $1.50 each and can be found online at


There are many ways to show your real estate clients that you value their business. With these thoughtful holiday gift ideas, you’ll continue to make a great impression on all of your clients and be the first point of contact for all of their real estate needs.


Top 10 Real Estate Blogs

Many real estate investors nowadays have never ending supply of information as well as option when it comes to informative news. This is because of the advent of internet technology that makes information a lot easier to achieve. Every real estate investor can find the subject he or she is looking for just by searching in the internet. This is a lot convenient for them. One great source of vast of information is blog or more often called as “forum”. Blogs serves as special forum of thought, opinions, and suggestions of people from around the world. Many real estate investors are not aware about the goodness of blog in their business. They do not know that blogs can be an excellent venue to gather inside information about investments most especially in the world of real estate industry.

Despite of the very unstable economy in the Unites States there is one thing that will remain constant above all and that is investors will always stay on the curve. With continues help from blogs, it can provide wide variety of source that is outside the norm. This will keep many investors well informed and educated. To help investors find more information here are the top ten real estate blogs that you can take a look at.



4 Realz- in this blog you can read about an author named Dustin Luther. He discussed some news about technology, issues, legislation, as well as trends in the real estate industry. This is one great blog especially for investors who are new in the real estate industry.



BiggerPockets- this blog is just the subsidy of the main website. This will serve as the online networking platform for all real estate community worldwide. This blog also discuss important event and information about the current real estate condition of the country. This is a good source for investors who want to stay updated.



Bloodhound Blog- this blog is a complete source of investment, lenders as well as technology gurus. This is a one stop shop for all investors worldwide.



Future of Real Estate Marketing- this blog discusses more about the marketing as well as advertising world of the real estate industry. It is a great source about the truthfulness of the industry as well as the shady part of the real estate industry is being discussed in this forum.



Grow a Brain- you can find almost 100 categories that are link to real estate, you can gain important insight about the industry just by reading. This blog is very interesting for real estate investors that are looking for odd posts.



Hot Property- this is blog that discusses about mortgages.



Inman Blog- it covers all timely news about real estate industry.



Matrix- this is one the most well written blogs about real estate industry. This is a great option for investors who are looking for honesty as well as educated perspective when it comes to real estate industry.



RCG- this is also known as Real City Guide. It can provide excellent readings about posts and comments of the readers.



Nubricks- this is dedicated for overseas property investors and investment.


Many investors around the world can surely benefit from this wide variety of online blogs.