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Posts Tagged residential real estate

CONFESSIONS OF A REAL ESTATE JUNKIE/BLUE STONE

img00152Ive been meaning to write this post for a while now, but for whatever the reason the spirit has moved me to do so today. Maybe because it’s too hot to even go outside. This post is not about buying or selling a home, but instead, about improving it.

A few years back, when my business was doing better, I installed, or I should say contracted out for, a blue stone walkway leading from my driveway to the front door. It’s about fifty feet in length, generous in width, curves and widens further as it approaches the front door. In my eyes, it’s a thing of beauty. Of all the home improvement projects I have done over the years, this one has unquestionably given me the most joy.

I live in Atlanta where the preferred hard scape material seems to be river stone. Now river stone is beautiful, with its shades of brown, light and dark, but it’s not blue, and it’s not what I was looking for. There is a local outfit here called Pike Nurseries and they have a special division just devoted to stone. I went there and selected my Pennsylvania bluestone  from stacks and stacks of the stuff. Quality, color variation and thickness were all important considerations. The people at Pike connected me with a local stone mason named Alex and they spoke very highly of his work. Local is a relative term, as Alex is originally from Scotland, and once we got past a few dialect issues, we were off and running.

The previous walkway was a simple concrete one installed by the builder when the house was built in 1990. I was thinking that Alex could install the blue stone over the existing concrete base.  However he said the rise to the front step would be too low, and the walkway would not transition properly to the driveway, so the existing walk had to be taken out completely and a new base installed several inches lower than the original. Big job and messy too.

I grew up outside of Boston and saw many fine examples of blue stone patios, covered porches, pool surrounds and even indoor installations. There was something about the organization of the stone, the large squares intermixed with rectangles, the shades of blue and gray, and the thickness of the stone that caught my eye and my passion. It was classic and conveyed, at least in my minds eye a sense of quality and permanence that had the rare ability to improve the looks of everything around it. This feeling has stayed with me all these years.

Whether the blue stone walkway will translate into a good return on my investment when I eventually go to sell my home remains to be seen, but it really doesn’t matter. The joy and satisfaction it has brought me everyday was worth every penny.

Maybe you’re a fan of blue stone too. If so, I’d love to hear your story.

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CONFESSIONS OF A REAL ESTATE JUNKIE/CANADIAN GOLD

The Winter Olympic Games that just finished up this past week, were by most reasonable measures, a big success. I had the opportunity to be in Toronto last week in a meeting with about sixteen of our Canadian Publishers of The Real Estate Book. The excitement and pride associated with hosting the games was very evident. I remember personally experiencing that same sense of  “pride of place”  and  “pride of  Country” when the games were here in Atlanta, where I’m based, in the summer of 1996.

But the Olympic games aren’t the only good news going on in Canada these days. I was reviewing housing stats provided by CREA, Canadian Real Estate Association, prior to my trip there and was thoroughly impressed by how well the housing market performed in 2009.

While most of the U.S. weathered another challenging year in 2009, our neighbors to the North, did very well.  Canadian homes sales increased by 7.7% and that’s on top of healthy gains in 2008 as well.  Results did vary widely by Province,  from a high of +23.4% in British Columbia to a low of -7.8% in Nova Scotia.  Canadian home prices increased by 5%, and again that’s on top of a gain in 2008. Only one Province, Alberta, showed a small decline with all remaining Provinces gaining ground and Newfoundland increasing the most at 15.6%.

CREA forecasts that 2010 will be another good year with a 13% gain in home sales and a 5.4% gain in prices. All pretty impressive. The good times will roll on.

How has Canada been able to largely avoid the calamity that hit most U.S. markets these past three years? My opinion only, but from what I can patch together; more conservative banking practices, fewer “creative” mortgage products and less speculative home building.

You’ve got to love that Canadian Gold.

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Real Estate Advertising and Home Buyers – Conversion is Key.

Hello?

Hello?

I travel across the U.S. and Canada talking to real estate agents on a regular basis.   Recently, I had what I would call a “very spirited” debate with an agent who, although he acknowledged that his advertising in The Real Estate Book had generated a significant number of phone calls on his listings, felt these leads were of no use if the buyer did not want to purchase the specific listing on which they called. He was adamant that he did not want to sell any one else’s listings – only his own.  

Of course you want to sell your listings, but if that home does not fit the buyer’s needs, then by all means, sell them one that does.  Seems like common sense to me. The advertising generated a phone call from a potential client.  That was the intention.  

The 2009 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers was just released.  In that survey, home buyers were asked where they found their home.  Not surprisingly, 36% found the home they ultimately purchased through a real estate agent.

Of course they did.  A smart, top agent knows how to create a volume of leads through a smart marketing program and convert those leads to closed transactions. 

Another 36% found the home they ultimately purchased on the Internet.  Of course they did.  Listing data is rampant and home buyers search every available media outlet for information.  Hopefully, they found their home online, called the agent or drove by (12% said they found their home on a yard sign), and then called the agent with whom they were working and began to negotiate the purchase.

The advertising in which this agent had invested was working.  He just didn’t know how to work it.

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