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Who are you? That little statement might bring to mind the opening scenes from CSI and the show’s theme song. However, it’s one of the most important questions that must be answered regarding your business. Folks should not have to be forensic investigators to find out who your company is and what you are about.

To grow a successful business, you must have a good marketing plan. Some real estate agents invest as much as 25% in marketing while others have average of 10% set aside in the budget. The greater the investment, the bigger the return.

You need to develop your company’s identity or “brand”. Who are you? Why should people care? What is it that sets you apart in an ocean of realtors? Why should someone choose your company over some other company? What can you provide that other companies can’t or don’t? According to Scott Davis of Brand Asset Management, consumers are exposed to over 6,000 advertisements in an average day. In order to get folks attention, you are going to have to get your “brand” out there.

A good marketing plan is more than just a great looking logo and a snappy tagline. While those elements are “key” in branding your company, it needs to go beyond that. There needs to be interaction with your target market. Emails, brochures, websites, phone calls, Facebook, Twitter or maybe running an ad on the side of a bus downtown are all ways of getting your “brand” out there.

Once you have answered the question or who you are and what you are about, you then need to acquire talented people to help you with design and outreach. We have some “out of the box” thinkers in our Marketing Department who can assist you in promoting your “brand”.


Do you know that there is a man who owns the moon? Like most people you probably thought the moon was just a part of the solar system, a piece of land that wasn't owned by anyone. You are wrong, my friend. The moon has been owned by a man named Jenaro Gajardo Vera since 1954.

This may be a myth, an urban legend, or simply a story someone made up, but no matter what, it is interesting. The story goes that Vera wanted to join a club, but the club was restricted to property owners. He owned no property so his application was denied.

He set out to find a way around this rule and came upon an idea to claim the moon as his property. It is said he got a deed and everything for it. There are even stories that Richard Nixon asked Vera's permission to land on the moon in 1969. it is also said that he got into some tax trouble for not claiming the property on his taxes.

There may be some truth to this story as there are records in Chile that he did file deeds on the moon. We may never know the complete truth, but it is fun to think that real estate could expand into untouched territory and bring many new and interesting opportunities for buyers.


Ok, the real white house is not for sale, but the famous white house replica is on the market. This replica looks just like the white house inside and out. It is not to scale, but it is still impressive. This house is pretty amazing and perfect for the proud American.

The house features 16,500 square feet and is a tourist attraction in North Druid Hills, located in Atlanta, Georgia. This house is quite impressive with its wrought iron gates, authentic looking d├ęcor, and little creative treasures throughout.

This house is unusual, unique, but no doubt something everyone wants to get a look at. With all its amazing features you might think that it won't be long before the next resident comes in to call this home. It has been on the market for quite some time now, though, so who knows. Maybe the White house is not the kind of home that your typical American is looking for.

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Maybe you are tired of trying to sell houses. Maybe you want to sell something a bit more exciting or exotic. How about a private island? It may surprise you just how many private islands there are on the market right now.

Take Burnt Island. It is located off Alaska and offer five acres of serene peace. It is priced at about one million dollars and the word is that there has only been one previous owner.

While it may be easy to talk up this piece of land, show the beautiful pictures that have been taken on the island and brag about how nice it would be to own an island, you also have to be realistic.

Many of the private islands for sale on the market are nothing more than some forgotten land in the middle of an ocean. Burnt Island, for example, has a cabin that is said to be quaint and peaceful, but some digging around will reveal that cabin is nothing more than a shack. There are many reports of private islands not being anything like the listing says. From over pricing to overzealous descriptions, things are not always what they seem to be with these so-called serene and stunning pieces of land.

Selling a private island may have a bit of fantasy and whimsy about it, but if you are serious about making money in real estate you should stick to houses. You don't want the headaches that come with properties you really know nothing about.


The current state of the real estate market is taking everything we once believed about owning a home and turning it upside down. The market is getting so bad that people are willing to take drastic measures just to ensure they can afford the roof over their head.

One sad truth about this market is that many people are actually hoping for a foreclosure. They stop paying their mortgage and just sit back and wait on the bank to foreclose. In the meantime they save up the money they would have put towards the mortgage for an apartment. Many people find this is a great solution because they can't afford their home and moving to an apartment would just make more financial sense. Also home prices have fallen so much that selling would cause them to lose more money then foreclosing. That is a sad truth we face these days.

Looking at this market from a buyer's point of view is also out of whack with what you may think. In the past, homes were sold for the best price. Sellers wanted as much as they could get out of their home. Today, most of the homes on the market are bank owned. The banks do not really care about how much money they get, but rather how fast they can get money. What this has crated is a cash market. Banks do not want to wait on loans and payments. People who have cash can steal a home right out from underneath another buyer who is buying with a loan.

These new lessons in real estate make for a tricky market. Nobody really knows how to act. Everything we once thought about real estate has been turned upside down. It makes this a market that is very tricky to work in. It can be a challenge, but understanding the new way people are thinking and how the market is working these days can make it much easier for real estate agents to make money and see great profits.


When you think of preparing a home for sale have you ever added voodoo or an exorcism to your list of things to do? Not likely, but in this tough market, some agents see voodoo and exorcism as requirements to get a house sold. How about feng shui or a Native American cleansing? Believe it or not there are real estate agents all across the country trying these unconventional methods to get houses moving in a hard market.

Some agents are to the point where they will try anything to sell a home. There are stories of many crazy antics by agents who are just trying to get homes to sell by doing anything and everything. This means going beyond just doing perfect staging and open houses more often than usual. Some agents are stepping beyond reason and dipping into unconventional, sometimes controversial, means to sell a home.

The main thought behind such things a voodoo or cleansing rituals is to fix the bad energy in a home. Agents are trying something new. Since conventional methods of trying to sell a house just don't seem to be working they figure there is no harm in trying to get a good energy flow from a little feng shui or banishing bad energy or spirits through an exorcism.

Do you have a hard to sell home? Maybe it is bad energy that is holding you back from making the sale. It never really hurts to try, right? If you are getting desperate then maybe it is time to look into some of these unconventional methods to help you out.


The most expensive house in the world needs a new owner. The house is located in Germany and even has its own name – Waterkuken. Waterkuken is located in the city of Kampen and has been the home to many rich and famous people.

You may be thinking in this market it is hard to push your average home. How do you think it would be trying to sell this home that comes with a staggering price tag of $9 million? Maybe you think you could do it. Would you change your mind if I told you Waterkuken is only 322 square feet? Would you laugh at me?

Waterkuken is actually quite small. The price is not based on square foot, though. You are not really getting more room for your dollar with this house. It is all about the view. The house sits on a little over half an acre. It has views that span across the sea. The setting is quite mystical.

If you want a challenge, especially in today's market, then go ahead and try to sell Waterkuken. Give it a shot and see if you have the skills to sell just about anything.


Tired of Selling Houses?

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It is no secret the real estate market is just not that hot lately. Maybe it is time to try something a bit different. How about selling bridges? The state of Maryland has a nice bridge on the market, ready to move to your location.

The Maryland highway department has a bridge in Cecil country that needs to be moved. The bridge is located on 545 over Little Elk Creek in Childs. The bridge was built in 1932 and at 27 feet wide, it no longer works under current regulations which require bridges to be at least 32 feet wide. Officials have decided that selling the bridge is far easier than trying to widen it.

The bridge is available to be purchase by anyone willing to preserve the bridge according to the standards for historic bridges. This could be a local government, a historical group or even an individual. Do you know someone who would be interested in purchasing an antique bridge?


Almost every town has streets named after trees, like oak, maple, cypress and cherry. Most towns have a Main street or a High street, too. Some towns, though, want to be a little different than the rest and they start getting creative with street names. You may have never actually thought about the names of the streets before, even as a real estate agent. Once you start coming across weird street names, you may start paying more attention.

Imagine how difficult it would be to sell a house located on Farfrompoopen Road? This road is located in Story, Arkansas. I wonder how many times people living on this road have had to deal with uncontrollable laughter when asked for their street address.

Some road names are not quite so odd. In fact, there are some that are quite delicious. How about Candy Cane Lane in Redding, California? I wouldn't mind living there. It probably is quite festive around the holidays.

The next time you get a new listing take a minute to check out the street name. Be grateful if it turns out to be normal. There are some crazy street names out there and you should be thanking your lucky stars that you are not stuck trying to move a house located on Bucket of Blood Street in Holbrook, Arizona.


Sounds interesting, doesn't it? What would you say if I told you that intriguing land for sale is located on the moon? How about Mars or Venus? Would you laugh? Hold your laughter for a moment because you really can buy property on the Moon, Mars, Venus or Mercury.

Lunar Embassy is a company in Nevada that specializes in selling property that is, truly, out of this world. They have been quite successful in their venture, selling almost 10 million dollars in property since 1980.

If you are interesting in getting your piece of outer space real estate, then you are looking to pay about $36.50 for an acre. Prices are subject to change and you can usually get as little or as much property as you like. It is completely legal and your purchase is registered with the United Nations and the government's of the U.S. and Russia.

Lunar Embassy takes a slightly humorous approach to selling this unique real estate. Their sales line says it all: “Perhaps you can't own it here....but you can, own it up there!”


Many people are trying to go smaller with their home choices these days. Small homes cost less in general to buy, cost less to heat and cost less to maintain and are easier to maintain. They work for this type of economy where every penny counts. Maybe you are looking for smaller homes for some of your clients. Take a look at this:

300 sq ft
7 ft wide
1 bedroom
Built in 1912
Location: Toronto, Canada

Maybe this is too small? Toronto's Little House, as it is known, is a great conversation piece, if nothing else. This home is actually quite popular and each time it comes on the market it is flooded with people wanting to see inside. This tiny house is not on the market right now. It is undergoing some improvements and will be back on the market in March of 2010. Keep an eye out for it!



The current state of the economy is not bad for everyone. Some industries are actually making out on the deal, while the average American is left suffering. Before you feel sorry for the banks in the current mortgage crisis, watch this...

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As an agent you have probably done many open houses. You have probably walked people through homes before. Most agents go through this regular tasks without any incident. However, sometimes an agent runs across something that makes them wonder if they will ever sell this home.

You may have worked with run down properties, rehabs or other homes where something was not in perfect order, but what would you do if you had to sell a home that is quite possibly an Indian burial grounds? That would be a tough task.

A real estate agent in Louisiana came across that exact situation. She was showing a home and came across bones in the basement. Over 100 bones, to be exact. Forensic investigators determined that the bones were probably Native American. The previous homeowners had been collecting them. They would come across them while doing yard work and simply piled them up ion the basement. That is where the real estate agent and perspective homeowners found them.

Imagine trying to explain that to home buyers!


Most home buyers know when buying a home that they will need to purchase homeowners insurance to help protect their new asset. There is something you may want to warn new homeowners about, though. Not all damages will be covered under a homeowners insurance policy.

If you are selling in a rural area with a lot of cows, then listen up because you should be warning homeowners against damage that is not covered – “acts of cow”.

That's right. A homeowner in Tennessee recently found out that his homeowners policy did not cover damage done by a cow. A neighbor had cows in a nearby pasture and the fence came close to homeowners property. A mischievous cow would lean through the fence and get to the home. The cow managed to ruin screens, crack glass and even pull down a gutter. The cow did all this with his tongue.

So, just take this warning and be sure if you sell a house near a cow pasture that the new homeowners get insurance that offers protection against “acts of cow”.


Any little oddity in a piece of real estate can make it very hard to move in today's tough market. For many people, the mere mention that a house could be haunted will make them turn around and walk out the door without a second thought. Many times, no matter what you do, shaking the haunted house label can be difficult. Real estate history is littered with tales of houses that have sat on the market for months, even years because they were labeled as haunted. If you happen to be unlucky enough to come across a haunted house that you have to try to sell, here are some tips on making the task a little easier.

Tip #1: Check state laws

Some states have laws about disclosing whether a house is haunted or if someone has died or was murdered on the property. Other states have no such laws. If word hasn't gotten out about the haunting of the house and there is no law saying you must disclose such information then you may be better off informing the sellers to keep that bit of information under wraps.

Tip #2: Do damage control

In some cases, there is no stopping rumors about a house. You have to deal with them head on if you ever want a chance to move this house. With some people it will be no problem because some people simply do not believe in ghosts and hauntings. There are many people that do, though. One great way to dispel rumors is to hold various open houses and to get people in the house, looking around. Once there have been many successful showings where no ghostly activity was reported, the rumors will quickly fade away on their own.

Tip #3: Get a professional opinion

In almost every state there are professional ghost hunters. If all else fails, call them in. Have them look over the home and determine if it is haunted. If they think this could be a real case of a haunting then have them help you get rid of the ghosts or spirits and cleanse the home.

You may not believe in ghosts or think there is such a thing as a haunted house, but many people do believe and having a house labeled as haunted can be very bad. You could have trouble even getting anyone interested in buying the home or have to drop the price really low just to get it to sell. Use the tips above and see if that will help make selling that haunted house a little easier.

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Yeah, the market is sure not the best these days, but you are probably selling nice, normal homes. How much harder do you think things would get if you were trying to sell some of the strangest houses on the market. These are not your average family homes. There are floating homes, homes that are built like a castle and homes with all sorts of interesting features, from ice cream parlors to bowling alleys.

Most of the strange homes on the market were once the idea of the original owner. They were eccentric ideas that catered to the owner's preferences and desires. For some reason, though, the owner decided that the home no longer met their needs and put it on the market. Now some lucky or unlucky agent, depending on how you look at it, has the job of trying to sell this odd property to someone else.

Selling a unique piece of real estate is certainly a challenge in any market, but in this market it is almost impossible. Most custom built homes sell for much higher prices than your average home. In a market where everyone is trying to get the lowest price possible and home buyers are sticking with only practical styles of homes, selling a home that boosts an elevator, an amphitheater or a secret tunnel entrance is not easy.

So, when you are having a really bad day and feel like you haven't sold a thing for weeks, just think about those poor agents who are struggling to sell impossible property in a hard market. That will probably make you feel a little better about your situation.

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As a real estate professional sometimes you have to deal with local or state laws that can really slow you down and cause some headaches. Many laws have a real purpose, and while they may be annoying at times, they really are necessary. Sometimes, though, even lawmakers miss the mark. Here are some really strange laws that are on the books. You never know. One day maybe you will come up against one of these laws when trying to help a client.

Do the potential buyers own an alligator? Well, if you are in Arkansas then you better inform them that it is illegal for them to keep that alligator in their bathtub. However, if you are in Georgia then proceed with the sale because it is legal there to keep your gator in the bathtub.

Make sure new homebuyers in Arizona own an outdoor thermometer and have plenty of cold water on hand because when temps rise above 110 degrees they are legally obligated to give beggars knocking at their door a drink. If they don’t obey they can face jail time.

Selling a home in Maine? Be sure to warn all buyers that they must be diligent about removing Christmas lights. If they keep them up past January 14th they are breaking the law.

Selling a home to a large family in Tennessee or Pennsylvania? Watch out because they could end up facing charges. In Tennessee no more than 8 women can live in one home and in Pennsylvania the limit is 16 – any more and the home is labeled an illegal brothel.

Are you an agent in Texas? Well, here’s a new sales point for you – Texas actually has a law on the books that states criminals must give homeowners 24 hours notice before they break into their home or commit another crime on their property. Now if only everybody obeyed that law, Texas real estate would be selling fast.


The events of September 11th will never be forgotten by any American. However, unless you live in the New York area or had someone close to you perish on that fateful day, you probably do not think about what is happening with the Ground Zero site.

There has actually be a lot happening, yet very little actually getting done. Just by looking at the area, not much has changed for a while. There has been a lot of talk of rebuilding and a lot of discussion about what to do with the piece of real estate where the former World Trade Center stood.

Most recently, then central tower, once called the Freedom Tower and now called 1 World Trade Center, is on the market. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is selling the $3.2 billion tower. Whoever makes the purchase is expected to also market and lease the space to corporate tenants.

The tower is still under construction and is not expected to be completed until 2013, but all the controversy surrounding it makes many fear, renting the office space to be a difficult task. A task many do not want to take on. However, the Port Authority still believes that this is a piece of real estate that many developers will still be vying for.

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Homebuyers Walked Away in November

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Now that we are into 2010 we are able to start looking back on 2009 and seeing what was happening. Learning from mistakes and trends of the past year is the only way to start off 2010 in the best way possible. One place to look is November when homebuyers started buying less.

In November, according to, homebuyers were walking away form contracts more than signing them, with a 16% drop in signed sales contracts than in October. The National Association of Realtors reported this as the first drop after nine months of gains.

The thought is that buyers were simple taking a break. It was at this time that the homebuyers credit was to expire (it has since been extended into mid-2010) and people had been trying to get in before that deadline. With the deadline looming people backed off and no longer felt they had to push to buy a home and get the credit.

The prediction is that we may continue to see this trend with a gain coming again in spring as buyers start to respond to the new deadline set for the credit. So, be prepared to get a boost in business in the spring as homebuyers once again scramble to beat the credit deadline.


According to Freddie Mac the numbers for the start of 2010 are down from 2009. Rates on a 30 year fixed rate mortgage for January 7th were at 5.09%, which were down from the previous week when they were 5.14%. However, looking back at the same time in the beginning of 2009 the rates were at 5.01%. So what is this telling us?

The numbers do not really tell us much, but when we look at why rates are changing the way they are we can get an idea. The opinion is that the economy is starting to rebound. That is prompting the Federal Reserve to raise the overnight target rate. This usually causes a rise in ARM rates. The good news is that any major changes from the Fed are not expected until later in the year, so rates may stabilize.

For you, the real estate agent, stable rates can be a great thing. It has truly been a buyers market and sellers have been losing big time. However, if buyers can start to get loans easier and current mortgages can be stabilized at a good rate then chances are that business may start to look up.

Buyers may be able to get more affordable loans. Sellers may be able to refinance and stop foreclosures or short sales. In the end, the hope is always that the market will start looking up. We need to hope that rates will go lower and stay lower, lenders will be lending and properties will start moving again at a good pace.

2010 may just bring a great chance for the market to rebound and for this slump to finally be over.


January 1st brought us more than just a new year in the real estate world. It also ushered in a new set of rules and a new mortgage form that lenders must use. The idea behind the change is to make borrowing for a mortgage easier for the borrower to understand.

This change comes from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The form is called the “Good Faith Estimate” form. The form has specific lines that cover all settlement fees, lists loan amount, term length, monthly payment, interest rates and details about prepayment penalties or balloon payments. All mortgage lenders must use the new form.

Those looking to buy a home in 2010 will get to use this new form to compare loans from multiple lenders. The hope is that borrowers will be able to make a more informed decision about their mortgage loan and that they will be better able to choose the loan that is really the best choice.

Only time will tell if the new form will actually make the mortgage lending process easier on home buyers or not. For now, many in the industry have said that it is a good idea and are looking forward to seeing just how well it works.


Nobody will argue that 2009 was not the best year in real estate. Many agents struggled through the year and welcomed the new year with some hope that it would bring about a swift recovery for the market. The sad news it that the housing market recovery is looking to be anything but quick.

Many had high hopes after a report that the tax credit program for first-time home buyers had helped the sale of existing homes to see a nice increase. The credit was supposed to expire in November but has been extended into April. That does lead to some hope that it will continue to help the market recover. On the flip side there is a lot of talk about the high number of foreclosures that have been forecasted for the next couple years. The jury is still out about whether 2010 will see the market rebound or if it will be another year of just trying to get by.

There are several things that we will need if we expect the housing market to have a good recovery. These things include:

- A lower unemployment rate
- A lower number of foreclosures
- More available and affordable credit

There really has to be a change in the overall economy in order to get the housing market back in shape. Can that happen in 2010? That remains to be seen. Right now it is just too soon to make any solid predictions.