Always Be Delivering Magic


Alyssa Hellman

By Alyssa Hellman

In real estate, agents are constantly trying to find new ways to standout in their market. Will this gadget make me look techy? Will that car magnet attract business? Should I advertise on this portal or that? But when you take away all the gadgets and hoopla, real estate is rather simple. The purchase or sale of shelter is an indispensable need for the public. We are a valuable asset. The real question is, are you conveying that value to build your business?

Sure, a home is the largest investment that most people will make throughout their life, but a home is so much more than the windows and walls that complete the structure. A home is about the people within those walls and their stories that weave the fiber of a home. Think on this for a moment…people tend to buy or sell homes during big moments in life – getting married, having kids, starting a new job, downsizing as children move on, and that’s just to name a few. As agents, our ability to understand the life events of our clients is without a shadow of a doubt the most valuable asset we have.

@violetdragonfly, 2015. Morguefile

There are a lot of surveys that talk about what buyers and sellers want in a home, but what those surveys don’t always say is that buyers and sellers want  someone who they trust to be one their side as they navigate this next stage of their life. In my personal real estate business, I always called this “delivering magic.” At Go Realty, we define it like this: “What raises the eyebrows, waters the eyes, and makes the lungs draw air?” It’s magic.

Throughout the transaction, there are a million little ways to find and deliver magic. Find those. Show up at your clients work to deliver flowers and news that they are under contract. Surprise them on moving day with dinner from their favorite restaurant. Send their kids a birthday card. When you deliver magic, your business card is unnecessary because the moment is remembered. Closing a transaction is the expectation, delivering magic is remarkable. So, find a way to deliver magic to your clients. Heck, find a way to deliver magic to the people who haven’t yet done a transaction with you. Because if there’s one thing people value, it’s the unexpected moments of unforgettable experiences.

Alyssa Hellman is the director of the Go School at Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate, Go Realty based in Cary, N.C., serving Raleigh-Durham and surrounding areas. You can find Alyssa on Twitter @AVHellman or visit her website,

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The Spa-Like Bathroom: 10 Top Trends for 2015


By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Photo Credit: National Kitchen & Bath Association

Just like the kitchen, contemporary designs are growing in popularity in bathroom remodels. These contemporary touches in the bathroom equate to clean and open designs, with floating vanities and freestanding tubs.

Last week, at Styled Staged & Sold, we highlighted the top 10 trends for the kitchen this year. This week, we focus on the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s latest trend report on what’s driving bathroom design in 2015.

Here are the top 10 overall bathroom design trends NKBA designers expect to be hot this year:

1. Clean, white, contemporary designs
2. Floating vanities
3. Open-shelving
4. Electric heated floors
5. Purple color schemes
6. Trough sinks
7. User experience (ease of use and low maintenance) and accessibility features
8. Extra amenities (like steam showers, anti-fog mirrors, lighted showers, and shower seats)
9. Innovative storage (such as drawer pullouts and rollouts to hold hair styling equipment)
10. Showers and freestanding tubs

Most popular colors: White and gray are the dominant colors for bathrooms. Half of designers expect to see gray growing in 2015, and several designers also mentioned the growing popularity of purple, lavender, and lilac tones gaining steam in bathroom designs. For fixtures, white continues its dominance.


Out of style: Jetted tubs, whether whirlpool or air, are decreasing in popularity, according to NKBA’s report. “People are moving away from jetted tubs to more classic soaking tubs,” says Bill Donohoe with Donohoe Design Works in the Los Angeles area. Also, beige fixture colors are increasingly dropping in popularity.

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3 Real Estate Cliches That Stunt Growth


Sam DeBord

By Sam DeBord

We love to give advice as real estate professionals, and often that advice is to our professional associates. Over time, we accumulate catchy sayings that are supposed to sum up and answer other agents’ questions in short fashion.

Like in any industry, the advice can be good or bad. There are a lot of great coaches and advisors in the industry. Most new agents will benefit greatly by being trained by a serious, thoughtful mentor.

Unfortunately, there are also plenty of ego-driven personalities giving bad advice. The amount of misinformation new agents get from gurus, speakers, and “thought leaders” is staggering. Many are so caught up in having a great tagline that they’re willing to sacrifice good, thorough advice to the folks who are listening to them.

We spend a lot of time with our team pushing back against counterproductive one-liners that our agents hear so often. These are just a few of the clichés that new agents should avoid if they’re hoping to learn the business quickly, and get a head start on where it’s going:

“If they won’t sign a buyer agency agreement, they’re not worth my time.”

There’s a time and a place for buyer agency agreements. Relocation and referrals are often that place. Your first interaction with a potential client who contacted you via the Internet is not the place.

Many traditional agents will protest, but as a new agent, you need to learn to deliver some value to clients before you ask them to sign a contract for you. Asking Internet leads to sit down in your office and sign an agency agreement might make you feel like you’re only working with serious buyers, but in reality you’re only working with a tiny minority of the buyers who you could’ve been selling homes to.

This isn’t to say you should run out and show a property to an unknown person. Meet them at an office or a public place and verify their identity. Talk about the real estate process and how you get paid. Just don’t balk at showing them a few homes and letting them see the kind of service you can provide for them. Your job is to earn their business, not expect it.  Self-righteousness won’t fill up your bank account.

“If they don’t want to work with me, I don’t want to work with them.”

This classic cliché plays on the ego of the agent. It’s a perfect way of doing business for a seasoned agent who has a full book of business and wants to maintain a work/life balance.

For a new agent, it’s an excuse to avoid the more difficult parts of the job. It’s also often a misreading of the clients, a mistake that can be financially costly.

Anyone who has been in the business for a while has had some difficult clients. Even those who start out a transaction in good spirits can turn adversarial in the wrong circumstances. Of course, if a client is abusive or threatening there’s reason to end the relationship. Most of the time, though, working through a difficult transaction with clients who may not be your best friends is a learning experience that you’ll benefit from—and undoubtedly repeat later in your career.

You’ll be surprised at how many of today’s Internet-educated buyers and sellers start out in a standoffish manner, but become your friend by the end of the transaction. By giving them so much information online, we’ve trained them to think they know almost everything already. They often think, “I don’t really need an agent. I just need the door opened.”

Don’t blame them for that pervasive mindset. Get comfortable with that being a common misconception, and learn to work through it. It’s not that they don’t want to work with you, they just don’t know that they need you yet.

Show them what you know, and what you do, that no website can replace. Understand that your job is to provide the experience that changes their minds.

The Internet know-it-all is only going to become more prevalent in the future. Learning to work with these clients is essential to being prepared for a long-term career.

“I’m just going to be myself.”

@mconnors, 2010. Morguefile

This is a job. It can be a great, flexible career with plenty of room for individuality and differentiation. It’s still a job. Your ability to freely express yourself exists within the confines of acting and looking like the professional that the public expects. Outside that box, you “being yourself” equals smaller paychecks.

You don’t have to wear a suit and tie if that’s not appropriate for your market. You don’t have to stodgily rattle off statistical reports about your market if that’s not what your clients prefer. But if you’re not dressing up to the appropriate level, preparing yourself with research, speaking as if you’ve been trained for this job, and getting to your appointments on time, you’re just being lazy.

Dress up if you’re unsure. It doesn’t matter what you’re most comfortable in, it’s what your clients think that matters. If you’re in a denim shirt and pickup truck market, then don’t show up in your t-shirt just because you’re in a rush. If your clients work in a white collar office, show up in a jacket, suit, or something similar. You are your own boss, and you should hold yourself to some professional standards.

Your clients may say they don’t care what you wear, but subconsciously peoples’ perceptions of you are based on image. No one is going to fire you for being overdressed. If you look young, dressing professionally is a tremendous asset, especially on a first meeting (don’t give it up just because you got a 2nd meeting). It’s a minor inconvenience for a career that allows you unlimited upward financial opportunities and independence. Any client who hires you and closes a transaction is paying you well, so act accordingly.

Don’t just recite, think it over.

Listen to the advice of the experienced brokers and agents in your sphere. Take in what the latest real estate speaker has to say about the industry and your job. Just take it with a grain of salt. If someone is getting paid to give advice, they’re helping their listeners make more money, and/or saying things that are quotable enough to propel their future speaking business. They’re not always doing both.

Approach your real estate career knowing that not all of the advice you receive is sound. You’ll allow yourself to gain more broad experience and get past some of the unnecessary hurdles of starting out as a real estate agent.

Sam DeBord is managing broker of  Seattle Homes Group with Coldwell Banker Danforth, director for Seattle King County REALTORS®, and state director for Washington REALTORS®. You can find his team in Seattle and Bellevue.

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The Contemporary Kitchen: 10 Top Trends for 2015


By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine 

Photo Credit: National Kitchen & Bath Association

Contemporary is the buzzword when it comes to kitchen designs this year, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association. Streamlined designs, eclectic touches, and multiples of appliances lead the trends, according to NKBA’s 2015 forecast.

Here are the top 10 overall kitchen design trends expected to be hot this year, according to NKBA’s report:

1. Clean with an overall contemporary feeling: A fusion of styles and multiple colors in one kitchen
2. European-styled cabinets
3. Multiples of appliances in one kitchen (most notably two dishwashers, like a dishwasher and a dishwasher drawer, or the addition of a refrigerator/freezer)
4. The rise of steam ovens
5. Furniture-like pieces (such as furniture-styled dry bars)
6. Outdoor kitchens
7. Fewer standard kitchen tables, replaced by counters or tall gathering tables
8. TVs and docking stations (many kitchens have desks or home office areas as well as flat-screen televisions and docking/charging stations)
9. Wine refrigerators
10. A focus on the user experience, from easy maintenance to accessible design

Most Popular Colors: The most common color scheme for kitchens: White, followed by gray, according to NKBA. About a third of NKBA remodelers also said they did black or blue kitchens in 2014. Kitchens in green tones were also gaining in popularity. Designers are increasingly reporting an appetite for kitchens with multiple color schemes.

“I am seeing lots of white painted kitchen perimeters with espresso stained islands and dark stained kitchen perimeters with light colored painted islands,” says Christine Shorr with Morris Black Designs in Allentown, Pa. “Lots of painted white kitchens with light countertops and espresso islands and painted gray cabinets.”

Out of style: Country/rustic, Tuscan and Provincial looks with distressed finishes, as well as color schemes in reds, bronzes, and terra cottas are on their way “out” in the kitchen.


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5 Golden Rules to Home Staging on a Budget




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