Perks to Buying During the Holidays

If you’re house hunting over the holidays, you’re likely a serious buyer with an immediate need.  Perhaps you have to relocate for a new job opportunity, or there’s been a change in your personal life? Regardless, while you may assume it’s not an ideal time to be looking — namely because there isn’t much to look at — there are some advantages to buying this time of year.

Perks to Buying During the Holidays

Less competition

Let’s start with the obvious one: less competition. This lowers the chances of multiple offers and bidding wars (something we saw a lot of last spring/summer), and should translate into a bigger discount for you. Know your market! This is where sites like Zillow come in handy. Start your research here for comps in your area and to see what homes are selling for.

Serious home sellers

Why would sellers pick such an inconvenient time — while everyone is busy entertaining family and friends and enjoying…

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Home Decor Evolution: Trends to Try for an Instant Update

Gone are the days when a stylish home and a busy family have to be mutually exclusive. Home decorating is hotter than ever and everyone is getting in on the trend.

With an ever-increasing focus on DIY design projects, resources such as shelter magazines, design blogs, TV shows and online home decor retailers are making high design accessible to any homeowner. If your budget doesn’t include hiring an interior decorator to update your decor, a few tips from the experts will go a long way.

Design duo Robert and Cortney Novogratz are the stars of HGTV’s “Home by Novogratz” and parents to seven children. Known for using vintage and eclectic items to create fun and stylish interiors that are also family-friendly, they point out that selecting unique pieces for your home is an easy way to make your style stand out.

“Having vintage pieces in your home is very important,” Robert Novogratz says. “Our world is becoming more and more homogenized and a vintage piece really sets your space apart from anywhere else. Vintage pieces add a sense of history, tell a story, and make your space unique. It could be a family heirloom or something from a flea market.”

Still, many people shy away from antique decor, associating it with hunting through flea markets and excessive spending on one-of-a-kind items. With all of the resources available on the Internet, you do not need to be a world traveler or an avid “antiquer” to create an eclectic look and feel in your home.

The leading online curated sales destination for the home, One Kings Lane, recently launched Vintage and Market Finds, which is a permanent online marketplace featuring curated premium antique and vintage treasures. The marketplace is comprised of items from the country’s top vintage and antique dealers, offering remarkable prices and tremendous value to shoppers looking to update their homes with timeless decor.

To help you get in on the vintage trend, Cortney and Robert Novogratz are sharing their secrets for creating unique and family-friendly spaces that fuse style with purpose:

* Embrace the possibilities. When you’re shopping for vintage pieces, consider how they can be repurposed and reimagined for your home. You can use an antique chest as a coffee table that doubles as stylish storage for blankets, pillows and toys. You will find new ways to incorporate pieces you’re drawn to by keeping an open mind.

* Add history to your home. Vintage items, from coffee table books to maps and globes, can be incorporated into lively gathering spaces―or even your kids’ bedrooms. Parents with an eye for style shouldn’t be concerned about adding unique items to their home. While you do not want to not put the most expensive pieces in your kids’ bedrooms, collectables like classic books and vintage maps make perfect decorative learning tools.

* Mix it up. A mix-and-match approach can give a home an eclectic yet comfortable style, adding a touch of livability to ultramodern spaces and pops of personality to more traditional decor. This works well for a dining room table. Balance a traditional mid-century candelabra with bright-colored modern candles for a centerpiece. Using mismatched vintage plates when entertaining guests is a fun way to add eclectic style to a dinner party.

* Play up your story. Your home is your castle, and it should reflect who you are. A personal element, like your initials or a lucky number, can provide inspiration as well as a starting point for looking for vintage elements for your home. Start small and build as you go, keeping an eye out for items like chests, boxes, lighting, books, art and furniture.

Stylish home decor is more accessible now than ever, and with all of the resources available, decorating your space is not only easy, but fun. Using vintage pieces makes a chic statement about who you and your family are and how you live.

8 Reasons Why E-mail Marketing Works

Mention e-mail marketing to real estate agents and you may find that many are still hesitant to move away from their tried-and-true snail mail methods. Others, however, are rapidly discovering that e-mail marketing is just about one of the most effective means of generating sales.
Want proof? When Shop.org surveyed retailers for their State of Retailing Online 2009 report, they found that e-mail was the most-mentioned successful tactic overall. The Ad Effectiveness Survey commissioned by Forbes Media in February/March 2009 placed e-mail marketing second only to SEO for generating conversions. And, research conducted in 2009 by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) demonstrated that e-mail out-performs all other forms of direct marketing.
The bigger question, of course, is why? Out of all the hundreds or even thousands of messages consumers are exposed to each day, why is e-mail marketing so effective?
There are several reasons, and real estate agents who embrace these principles will quickly find themselves joining in the chorus of praise.

1. E-mail marketing has a broad reach. It’s tough to find anyone who doesn’t have at least one e-mail address these days, which means you can reach out to your entire customer and/or prospect base. Just be sure to get their permission first by asking if you can add them to your mailing list.

2. E-mail marketing is proactive. Many real estate agents start promoting their services by taking out ads in a phone directory, a real estate guide, a local community newspaper, a billboard, or by sending direct mail and placing door hangers. The problem is your customers and prospects have to happen across the ads in order to see them. E-mail marketing goes directly to a place they’re already looking – their e-mail in-box. And unlike paper-based mail or door hangers, e-mail gives them the opportunity to contact you directly to get a quote or more information by simply clicking a mouse.

3. E-mail marketing is targeted. Most forms of advertising are based on the concept that if you hit thousands of people with your message, even though it means nothing to most of them, a few are likely to respond. E-mail marketing, though, is based on the idea of sending the right message directly to the right people based on their preferences, local market conditions and other factors. You can build one master list, then segment it by geographic location, marital status, gender, age, income, time of year, etc. It eliminates a lot of the guesswork that makes other forms of marketing so inefficient.

4. E-mail marketing provides data. If you’re using an e-mail marketing application or service designed for small business, you can run reports that show which e-mails or messages worked, as well as which didn’t, so you can improve your next campaign. You can even run split tests, sending one offer or message to half your list and a different one to the other half, so you can get a better feel for what exactly makes customers and prospects buy from you.

5. E-mail marketing allows you to engage. It’s nice to get the immediate reaction from a seller who sees your ad just as he/she decides to list a home. But your real goal is to build a relationship with a broader base of prospects so they think of you whenever it’s time for them to sell. E-mail marketing allows you to do that by bringing them community and market news, current mortgage rates, decorating ideas, timely tips (such as how to get a garden ready for spring), and more on a regular basis. It’s a great way to engage them – and keep them engaged.

6. E-mail marketing has a low cost of entry. Most forms of advertising or marketing require a big up-front investment before you see any results. That can get expensive for a real estate agent trying to keep expenses down. E-mail marketing has very little up-front cost, allowing you to market effectively without having to stop your core business work for long periods to get it done.

7. E-mail marketing is less intrusive. Unlike television or radio commercials, or especially telemarketing calls, e-mail marketing doesn’t interrupt a prior activity to deliver a message. Opening e-mail is the activity your customers and prospects are engaged in when they see your message. If you’ve done a good job of building that relationship, they’ll actually look forward to seeing what you have to say (instead of using a remote to zap past your message).

8. E-mail marketing works. According to the DMA’s research, e-mail marketing generated a return on investment of $43.62 for every dollar spent on it in 2009. You’re unlikely to find that kind of ROI out of any other form of marketing or advertising. That, of course, is the best reason of all to launch an e-mail marketing campaign.

Done correctly, e-mail marketing allows you to become (and remain) visible to your customers and prospects with highly-targeted messages at a minimal cost. All while delivering outstanding, measurable results. It’s like having an extra agent on your side – without having to split the commission.

Wendy Lowe is director of product marketing for Campaigner (www.campaigner.com), an e-mail marketing solution that enables organizations to have highly-personalized one-to-one e-mail dialogues with their customers, measure how they respond, and analyze those responses to interact in a more intelligent, automated way. Wendy can be reached at wlowe@protus.com.