August 29th, 2010
SPOILER ALERT: Anyone looking for big-picture debates or snarky anti-Google comments, you will be disappointed, stir that pot with someone else.
They are clever and fun, which makes me smile. I like to smile when I work, it’s really that simple. the refreshed home is a big fan, personally and professionally.
Have written previously about my attraction to, and admiration of Google’s thoughtful, and often light-hearted approach to the everyday. Months ago, inspired after one of their very creative doodles, I went to the Google site to find a way to contact them and let them know how much I enjoyed them.
Instead, I stumbled upon an absolutely delightful page describing corporate goals for the Google User Experience. No corporate-speak retreads here, I think it’s a great read, and a succinct blueprint for anyone in business for themselves:
Focus on the client, time is precious, planning and innovation-sure, we’ve read it all before, but I found this to be remarkably ‘blah, blah, blah’-free
Writing about this today because on the CBS Sunday Morning show today was an equally delightful segment on how this now iconic trait came to be, and the team of people that make it happen. If you’re a fan, too-enjoy!
August 28th, 2010
I’m shocked, shocked!!
Ok, maybe not that shocked. Have you looked at your online listing photos??
Every hour, every day, countless buyers and investors scan listings online. This week there are over 100 Open Houses in Westchester. With all that is on the line, here are some examples of what buyers are seeing this week:
The sofa that ate Rye Brook, Ye Olde Dining Room/Gift Shoppe, and towels drying. WAIT>there’s more! That architectural rarity called ‘a door’, a true multi-purpose room, and-well, you tell me.
Sellers and Agents alike, stop whining and wringing your hands. Number of sales and selling prices are on the rise in Westchester. If no one wants to see your house there is a reason why.
Staging is not about someone being right, or a judgement of how you live, it’s about getting your house sold. To that point-I am repeating my offer from previous posts: claim any one of these photos as yours, and I will spend up to a half-day Staging your house for free. REALLY.
August 25th, 2010
…just the interpretations and okay, the conclusions that are inferred.
Front page, centered and above the fold, announced in very un-wall Street Journal-like primary colors-was the 27.2% drop in existing home sales in July, as reported by the National Association of Realtors.
Emotionally I immediately regressed to ‘lalalalala-I can’t hear you-lalalala’ mode; intellectually , as a grown up and a professional working in the field of Real Estate, ’NOT helpful’.
In the article economists and market analysts attributed the drop to first the ending of the $8K tax credit, and then to the overall weak economy. OK< but one question:
HELLO-does anyone remember July?? Per National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the highest global land surface temperatures EVER were recorded last month-that’s over 130 years of records.
Is ‘global’ too broad? The entire Eastern seaboard registered temps ‘Much Above Normal’; 5th highest ever in Northeast, 3rd highest ever in the Southeast. Rhode Island and Delaware with the dubious distinction of highest temps ever recorded in July.
Still too broad? Weather historian Steven Frybish found not only was July a record-setter for NY metro area, so was June; in fact, this years’ June-July was this area’s hottest ever, since 1869, when they started keeping records.
The reality of global warming and the planet’s future is a discussion for another time; the reality I want to bring up here is simple: people don’t make big decisions, like buying houses when it’s so hot they can’t think straight.
You’re right, I am not an economist. Or a real estate agent. But 30 years of working with people, in their homes as an Interior Decorator and a Home Stager, I know the home buying and selling process is an emotional one, and all sorts of things can move it one way or another.
I also am very lucky to know some very smart and dedicated people who are in the business of educating their clients and customers on the very intimate, hyper-local reality of our real estate market. Stay tuned while I share their some of their insights on why the sky is not falling in Westchester. NEXT: Cash deals and short sales
August 20th, 2010
Ahhh…The Smile. They are happy people, looking for good times. Positive, upbeat, who doesn’t love the bouncy Smile?
You know them, or, more accurately you’ve heard them, having animated conversations…in crowded elevators…or across the floor in a restaurant. Or seen them-they’re first on the dance floor, or the most ardent fan at the game.
People who operate from this most expressive modality talk fast, think and move quickly. Depending on your perspective, they are enthusiastic-or loopy and overly excitable. They are usually ‘the life of the party’, even in un-partylike circumstances, which is the crux of the matter.
Understanding where people are coming from is always helpful, but in transactions, it’s like driving on a straightway-you can see what’s coming and be prepared to act accordingly.
The Gut will appreciate the speed The Smile operates with, but could be turned off by the ‘unnecessary drama’. The Heart will believe they are genuinely nice people, but then secretly focus on if they are really that happy, perhaps they should settle down a bit? The Head will have the hardest time dealing with the smile, because just like the Gut-Heart combination, they are diagonal opposites.
The Head, (being The Head) is ohso sure that information is king, could doubt The Smile’s sincerity, even their stability. Similarly, The Smile will think..well, not happy thoughts about the head, and unhappy thoughts are just their #1 buzzkill.
SO-what’s a partner in this transaction to do?
Smart agents already know they need to keep all the different hats handy, ready to change them as circumstances dictate.
To engage the most buyers, smart sellers will prepare themselves and their properties fully. I almost never think it’s a good idea for the seller to be present for showings or Open Houses-this is one of many reasons your should always hire a Realtor-but there is much that sellers can do to make it work better for all:
They’d know a definite move-in date for The Gut, have service records on the boiler handy for The Head, make a list of personally recommended restaurants printed up for The Heart, and plant flowers, and set up a volleyball net in the backyard for The Smile.
Regardless of their own style, buyers who like having choices should be similarly prepared. Before even going to the house, they will have their financials in order, and truly be prepared to make a move. They will then show up on time, and know/have a list of the questions they want to ask.
They will be respectful in the house-wiping their feet, shutting the door behind them. If the owners ‘happen’ to show up, they will listen to a story or two, be prepared to ohh and ahh suitably over family pictures/heirlooms, and discuss the house’s decor only when they are safely in their car, on their way back home.
Of course transactions are about dollars…but Real Estate is also intrinsically personal. If you can connect with the other parties on that level, you have the best chance of getting what you want. And yes, it really can be as simple as listening, watching, subtley mirroring the other’s style when possible, and always, always RESPECT for the other parties.
August 11th, 2010
Know the phrase ‘still waters run deep’? That’s The Head, personified. Very still. Very deep. You may need to put a mirror under their nose for signs of life…better, wave some market comps or stats in spread sheet form, just see the pink return to their cheeks!! OK, I may be exaggerating here a bit, but really, not that much.
Real Estate is a lot of numbers, facts and interpretations. The Head loves it all, nay, needsit all. They are detailed, focused and precise. Numbers and facts, preferably on paper, is where they find comfort and value (a little foreshadowing here-it’s often also where they believe most of their own value lies).
Sure, this way of thinking in extreme-and when it’s not your deal-you’ll chuckle, but until you have established a good working relationship with The Head, any missteps will cost you.
Those operating from this modality I believe has the hardest time seeing the point of others, including the value Staging. Not out of ignorance or arrogance, they are just that sure of the superiority of data. Real Estate is hyper-local, and (more foreshadowing) there is no reliable/independent gathering and reporting process.
Residential Real Estate has a strong emotional and interpersonal component to it; buyers, sellers, even agents-anyone really entrenched in the data-misses all the other signals, and can easily lose the distinction between “Data” and ”Guarantees”, and-say it with me now-Guarantees?? There’s no guarantees in Real Estate!
If you are working with The Head, either as buyers or sellers, be punctual, be organized, and be prepared (be very prepared).These folks do not like vague answers, overly optimistic scenarios or anecdotal stories. Just as with any other different modality-to connect, watch and mirror their actions: speak slowly, and never, ever rush them.
They take their time and deliberate everything, but generally there is no mystery: they will tell you where they are and why they are stuck, and decide when you have answered all their questions. You may be in for the long haul, but once won over, these folks are very loyal.
If you are a Head, I have a confession: we are brethren.
In 1981, I took the job at Ethan Allen on a dare. I was young, had instinct and raw skill, but little professional training or experience, and I was selling fairly expensive furniture to people whose own kids were my age. Memorizing measurements and other facts seemed the best way to for me to succeed.
Yes, I made some great connections with 25% of the customers I met, and for me at the time, I thought that was great. But looking back, by keeping in my comfort zone, I wasted so much time, and missed so many opportunities with the other 75% of the people I met.
Remember-none of this is judgemental, and no one personality type is better than another. Understanding the different styles is like having the right eyeglass prescription: Sure you can see the eye chart, but different lenses give you the most clarity, and lets you get the job done.
NEXT: The Smile-Keepin’ It Real
August 9th, 2010
Quotes inspire me. Several years ago Ellyn Spragins put together her first book of letters famous and semi-famous women wrote to their younger selves, What I Know Now.
Reflecting on what was a dark and stressful time in her 30′s, full of work, family obligation and illness, Olympia Dukakis counseled her younger self, observing that “‘You will come to understand that by purposefully capturing happy moments, you expand the soul.”
On a daily basis I misplace keys, glasses, and the like; and torture myself with-did I lock the door/leave water for the dog/flush?-but I remember this quote, it always centers me.
Sunday I not only purposefully captured a bunch of happy moments on my own, I witnessed others doing the same.
Two wonderful, funny and very smart friends-Deb Swee and Patrice Costa-after both jumping ship from their corporate backgrounds- launched a new venture; Doug and I-along with Bruce and Ginny* attended the inaugural event. (*Regular readers will know that Bruce and Ginny are Dougs’ and my partners in crime fairly often; always up for a new adventure, or checking out a new place, they are voracious foodies, and this was definitely up their alley.)
Culinary Collaborations www.culinarycollaboration.com looks to their fan base for feedback in creating all types of interactive food events. Upcoming events include an organic farm tasting/tour, making gnocchi with Hannah Hopkins of TV’s Chopped! , Seafood 101 and a more casual Burgers and Sides event.
Our event Sunday was Sunday Supper at Cutillo’s Restaurant in Carmel. The house Chef Patrick Cutillo was raised in has now been open as a restaurant since the early 90′s, an running it really is a family affair.
The first event was making fresh mozzarella-right in front of us! Cheese curd, hot water and salt, who knew?? I just assumed you needed to be in proximity to dairy animals to make cheese…something I was pretty sure the co op board would not be pleased with.
Said mozzarella quickly became a delicious Caprese salad; and was followed by pork tenderloin with peach brandy sauce, Giombotto (a diced and simmered vegetable dish) and Aborino rice.
Not only a great meal enjoyed in a charming setting with a very social group, but a unique and-seriously-very reasonably priced experience: this event-cooking lessons, and 3 course meal with glass of wine, coffee, tax and gratuity was $67.00 per person.
New events are always being planned, check it out, your soul will thank you!!
August 4th, 2010
Reality Check: Listing Photos Westchester Buyers Are Seeing 8.4.10
Gone are the days where buyers would spend Sunday afternoons ensconced in their Real Estate Agent’s station wagon, trolling around, looking for their dream house. But the pendulum has swung the other way, with a vengeance.
Thanks to the internet, there is access to lots and lots of information. In moments, buyers can work their way thru a weekends worth of Open House notices, narrowing the field with the surgical precision. It’s great, if you’re a buyer; or if this is your listing.
It’s not not so great if this is your listing.
Or this one.
Or…well, you get the picture.
Good listing photos don’t just interest buyers, they catch the attention of other agents…who have buyer clients.
Buyers never see all that went into getting a property to market, for the most part, all they see are the listing photos, and you have seconds to engage them, or lose them.
Professionally trained Stagers know how to quickly get a space cleared up, properly lit and shown to it’s best advantage-and to yours!
August 1st, 2010
We’ve all got stuff we need to get rid of-old stuff, stuff that is broken or otherwise unserviceable, stuff we don’t want or need anymore. Growing up, this stuff just got put out at the curb and was whisked away-out of sight, out of mind.
Ahh, the bliss of childhood. Now as grownups we not only have to deal our over-abundance of stuff, but how to responsibly deal with it. Enter Junkluggers.
Chances are you’ve seen the bright lime green trucks, or maybe you’ve heard the catchy name. Yes, these guys come and take what you don’t want. But-channeling Paul Harvey now-here’s the rest of the story.
They have developed a network of local charitable organizations, and will sort thru your stuff, taking what is serviceable to the appropriate agency, on your behalf, and get you a receipt from these organizations for your taxes.
SO-you not only reclaim some real estate in your home, but anything usable goes to people who could use it, you get a tax-deduction, stuff stays out of landfills…and all you have to do is pick up the phone.
I first met Asher Fink almost 2 years ago, when he was visiting my BNI group. Regular readers know that after the refreshed home, Furniture Sharehouse, Westchester’s non-profit furniture bank- is my #2 passion.
Heard what he did and persuaded him to follow me to the warehouse right after the meeting, and they have since become one of our strongest community partners and most ardent supporters. Here’s a recent segment from CBS news where they so graciously shared the spotlight.