Making It Rain – Utilize Rain Water All Year Long

Real Estate Trends

Water supply is an ongoing concern for many, especially those living in drought-stricken areas. This is one reason why the conversation about collecting and utilizing rainwater as a means for battling supply challenges is ongoing. Real estate agents can use this information to help their clients better understand this trend in real estate.  Why Homeowners Are Collecting Rainwater

By collecting rain and storing it in a barrel or tank, homeowners can create a supply of water to use that doesn’t increase water bills or overwork groundwater resources.

An additional benefit of rainwater collection is that rain doesn’t contain the minerals found in wells or the chlorine in municipal supplies. Rain collection is ideal for large water usages such as watering the lawn, washing the car, doing the laundry and showering/bathing. It is generally not used for drinking; however, it can be if properly filtered.

Understanding Rainwater Collection Systems

Collection systems range from a single rain barrel placed at the end of a gutter downspout to an elaborate system that can hold enough water to supply your entire home.

A house with a sloped roof, gutters and/or downspouts is perfect for rainwater collection intended for lawn irrigation or other nonpotable uses. All that is needed is a tank, a wire/mesh gutter screen to keep debris out, and a way to remove the water from the tank.

Your tank (or cistern) can be made from a range of materials including metal, wood, stone, cement or fiberglass. Garden and home supply stores offer rain collection systems complete with your barrel, leaf screens and spouts. The costs vary but expect to pay from $50 – $300 for a complete barrel system. Depending on how you plan to use it will determine the type, cost and complexity.

The easiest and most cost-effective way to remove water from your collection tank is by gravity. If you want a more elaborate use for your water, you’ll need a pump. Pumps provide about 8 gallons of water a minute up to 500 feet away.

Regulations

Homeowners should check with their homeowners association to ensure they comply with such rules as placement, color and aize of the rain barrel.

If using collected rainwater for the entire home, homeowners should check local codes and ordinances.

Concerns

It’s a good idea to use a roof washer to remove leaves, debris and droppings to create a clean line for the water entering the storage tank.

Mosquitoes are a natural concern for any collection of standing water, so be sure that your tank is screened and covered. If you live in areas that freeze, allow your barrel to only fill three fourths full to allow water expansion in freezing temperatures.

Aesthetics of rain barrels were once a concern, but not as much anymore. With the wide variety of collection tanks available, your cistern doesn’t have to be an eyesore. Many agree that the wooden tanks meant to resemble wine casks are actually quite charming. A carefully, yet strategically, placed tank can be hidden so as not to detract from your homes beautiful landscape.

Keller Williams Realty “Reinventing Work/Life Balance”

Blog Post From Jim Kennedy: Via (Huffington Post)

An increasing number of organizations are rethinking the concept of work/life balance.  During the US economic recession of 2007-2009, companies found new ways of doing more with less.  The advancement of technology meant that a number of jobs were abolished during that time and are never coming back.  Technology advancements also furthered the concept that an employee is never really off the clock.  The American Psychological Association reported that more people are working on weekends, during vacations and even while they are out sick.  Researchers are reporting that the line between work and home has effectively been blurred and workers are reporting more cases of burnout due to chronic job stress.

Workers are beginning to ask themselves a key question:  Am I working to live or am I living to work.  Gallup did a survey and found that 70% of U.S. workers are not actively engaged at work.  Employees are constantly being asked to make a choice between family and work and are increasingly saying that they want both.  Many prospective employees are now considering non-monetary factors as well as the opinions of current employees prior to making a decision on employment.  It is clear that many employers are listening.  In 2014, Forbes Magazine reported that 78% of employers rate employee retention and engagement as urgent or important.   Many are increasing the use of benefits such as alternate work schedules, personal services, parental leave, and even sabbaticals to attract and retain a quality workforce.  Some leaders, however, are strategically reinventing the concept of work/life balance.  One leader, in particular, had the courage and vision to make this a priority even before the term “employee engagement” ever existed.  That person is Gary Keller, the founder of Keller Williams Realty International (KWRI).

I first learned of Gary Keller and Keller Williams by reading a few of his many books on real estate.  His best seller books The Millionaire Real Estate Agent and The Millionaire Real Estate Investor are classic, how-to books on succeeding in real estate.  He followed those books with the wildly successful business book The ONE Thing:  The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.  I found the book to really be an extension of the company mission statement:  To build careers worth having, businesses worth owning, and lives worth living.  After reading Gary’s books and learning more about KWRI, I found three lessons that enabled me to achieve true work/life balance.

A Life By Design

KWRI was founded in 1983 by Gary Keller and Joe Williams.  From the start, Gary made it a point to design the company around the needs of its agents, not the other way around.   With this in mind, Keller Williams asks each new agent or employee to think about the life that they would like to lead and then to design a business around that.  The goal is to have people think about and have success in all phases of their lives, not just one part.  KWRI calls it having a life by design.

A Career Worth Having

KWRI is a market leader that only wants to succeed based on its core set of beliefs.  These beliefs guide how it conducts business as well as how it treats its workforce.  KWRI relies on these beliefs to create the systems, products, and services that lead to productivity and profitability.    To accomplish this, KWRI believes in putting its workforce first because it can only achieve success through its people.

Success On Your Terms

Most people think of KWRI as a Real Estate Brokerage.  What isn’t as widely known is that Keller Williams is also the number one training organization in the world according to Training Magazine.  In his book The ONE Thing, Gary asks an essential question:  What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?  KW’s training component, KW MAPS Coaching, is designed to help its workforce answer that question and then to offer tools to maximize their probability of success.  The main goal of KW MAPS coaching is to offer “programs for real estate professionals and business leaders to transform their businesses and lives through education and coaching.”  It offers many different programs for agents and employees to define, develop and refine success on their own terms.

KWRI thinks of itself as a training and consulting organization and encourages its workforce to reinvent the meaning of the concept of work/life balance based on individual and business needs.  The traditional 9-5 workday is long gone and companies such as Keller Williams are creating unique career paths to accommodate the individual needs of its workforce.  As a result, people can now find unique ways to fit work into their life.

Full Disclosure:  The author is a Licensed Realtor with Keller Williams Realty in Austin, Texas.

Shift Happens!

Gary Keller and Jay Papasan authors of the book SHIFT  have recently delivered critical action items every agent should take now. The market shift is here and spreading through each city. It is crucial to understand what the shift is, and how prepare your business in order to grow and remain profitable. This review of the book took place at Mega Camp in Austin, Texas over the past week.

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Reflecting on the title, Keller said that the book can actually work to reinvigorate any business at any time – it is not only for use during shifting markets. With that in mind, Keller and Papasan outlined five critical action items agents should do now to pave the way for not just a profitable year, but a profitable career.

Before taking action, you first need to recognize that shifts happen fast, and if you don’t prepare early, you may be too late. Start with your mindset and don’t assume it won’t happen to you. When things are going well, it is difficult to think about – let alone prepare for – them going bad. As Keller said:

When a market shifts, there is only one thing you can do: SHIFT WITH IT.

Get Right – Shift Your Actions with These Five Critical Action Items

In a shift, nothing becomes more critical than lowering your costs, re-energizing your people and systems, finding motivated buyers and sellers, and closing them to appointment.

Action 1 – Find Your Profit Through Expense Management

Now is the time to lower your expenses and make every dollar count. “To generate revenue, you generate leads, but to make a profit, you manage expenses,” Keller said. Some ways to do this are as follows:

Maintain a monthly budget that matches your shifting revenue.

Re-margin your personal expenses so that your business and personal life live within their means.

Profit is made in managing expenses.

Action 2 – Do More with Less Through Leverage

As you manage your expenses and make necessary cuts, you will need to get creative to do more with less and make every body count.

A market shift can be an opportunity to upgrade and top-grade your business. This is a gift of the shift. Follow these guidelines to help get your entire team in shift mode:

  1. Be visible and communicate to set the tone.
  2. Ramp up your training to upgrade their skills.
  3. Re-tool your systems for efficiency and focus.
  4. Increase your recruiting to top-grade personnel.

Action 3 – Lead Generate to Find the Motivated 

The race is on to find the ready, willing and able clients to buy, because in a shift, there is no longer enough to go around. A shift presents an opportunity to find the truly motivated, but you need to make every activity count.

While the market may change, the reasons people buy homes don’t, so find those motivated buyers.

Action – Improve Lead Conversion to Get to the Table

Good leads are great, but leads that become appointments with motivated people are the only leads that matter in a shift. Make sure you take the time and do the activities to make every lead count.

Action 5 – Leverage Your Market Center / ALL HANDS ON DECK – No one succeeds alone.

It’s time for all hands on deck because, as we know, no one succeeds alone. To get your market center working in concert, follow these activities:

  1. Share timely information.
  2. Coordinate training on key topics.
  3. Partner recruiting with the team leader and other associates.

How To Grow Your Database

Building small communities in your city, school district, neighborhood and workplace is one of the best ways to reach every potential contact in your sphere of influence. And who doesn’t want to expand their sphere and add to their database? While communicating with friends, family and acquaintances online is easier and more efficient, it is still important to interact in person and make personal connections. The more connected you are, the more leads you will get.


 

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USE FACEBOOK AND SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook groups are an excellent way to target small groups within your community. They are easy to create and maintain, and they bring new contacts straight to your database. Members of your Facebook group can add friends who have an interest in the group and who are active members in the community. The larger the Facebook group, the more people you will contact. However, only add people to the group who are actually in the community you want to build.

Some good Facebook groups to create include:

Local groups

Use your proximity to people as a resource for building a community.

  • School. Your kids’ school is a great way to meet other parents. PTA, room moms, and extracurriculars are awesome groups to get involved with in your local school district.
  • Work. Create a Facebook group for your department or introduce yourself to your significant other’s coworkers and spouses.
  • Parent. Take your parent-of-the-kid group message to social media! Facebook groups for moms and dads allow you to create events and send out invitations that don’t get lost in a sea of text messages.
  • Neighborhood. If your homeowners association or neighborhood association doesn’t have a Facebook group already, start one! This is possibly the most important community to be a part of because the members care about local real estate … and you are the local real estate expert.

Common interest groups

Use a shared love or passion to connect with people in a community.

  • Hobbies. Running, crafting, Netflix-binging, wine tasting. Things you love doing in your free time.
  • Sports. College or professional football, soccer, baseball, volleyball. Whatever gets the crowd cheering.
  • Events. Concerts, musicals, plays, screenings. Anything going on around town.

ORGANIZE WEEKLY/MONTHLY MEETUPS

Now that you’ve built these communities and touched your growing database on social media, go one step further and make a personal connection with the group members. Plan and organize frequent meetups that allow your community to connect your face with your brand. Happy hours, playdates, watch parties and sporting events are all fun and creative ways to get to know your database on a personal level.


The benefit of building communities online and in person is knowing the people around you that you otherwise could overlook as potential clients or lead sources. Build trust and your reputation as a resource in the community, get the message out that you want to help them and the people they know with their real estate needs, and market yourself as the local real estate expert.

Now that you’ve got a strong foundation, go out and build a community!

Cleaner Water For Your Home

Water Quality  for the Home

From appliances to paint colors to even water quality enhancements, your clients have a lot of decisions to make when they purchase their home. In particular, having clean, clear and safe running water is very important. And, thanks to advances in technology, determining what is in a home’s water and applying an appropriate filtration is easy. This article will help you inform your clients about those home water quality options.Here are the most common water problems and corresponding solutions:

The first step to improving the water quality in a home is to determine what type of water the home has and what contaminants are in it. Home kits or a water professional can determine this. Home kits are available at most hardware stores and are relatively inexpensive.

Hard water is one of the most common concerns for homeowners. Hard water – water that has a high mineral content – is most recognizable by heavy spotting on dishes, glasses, sinks, bathtubs and toilet bowls. This mineral buildup can also reduce the operating efficiency of any water-driven items and appliances and, worst of all, cause long-term pipe damage.

Once the water contaminant has been determined, the next step is choosing the best solution to remove it. It’s important to consider both operating and maintenance costs. Some solutions are as easy as choosing the appropriate filter and model, while others may require a chemical pump.

Filter systems come in various types of installation models such as:

• Faucet-mounted filters which are attached directly to the faucet.
• In-line filters that are located under the sink on the water supply line.
• Line bypass models that use a separate faucet at the sink which supplies only filtered      water when engaged.
• Point of entry (POE) systems are the most comprehensive as they treat all of the water entering the home. A POE system ties into the main water line and filters the water at every sink, shower and appliance in the home.

While faucet and in-line systems are easy to install, POE systems are the most complex and usually require professional installation.

Depending on the specific contaminant and the type of system chosen, improving the quality of water in the home is always a good idea. And what better time to do so than in August, which is Water Quality Month.

2016 Top Kitchen Design Trend

Real Estate Trends

One of the top design trends for 2016 is farmhouse kitchens. Whether your client is buying or selling, these tips for converting any kitchen into a farmhouse kitchen can bring a lot of attention to the focal point of the home.

Kitchens are the focal point of the home. They are where families gather and memories are made. When a buyer walks into a home, they imagine themselves in that spot with their own family, making them one of the strongest selling points of a home. One popular trend in kitchens attracting many buyers is the classic farmhouse kitchen.There is a reason they are so popular. Farmhouse kitchens combine functionality with style and a down-home good feeling. Inviting, warm and comfortable, they whisper of a simpler time. Although the farmhouse style is considered very American, it combines elements of the English and French country styles as well.

      THIS                                                                            NOT THIS

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Homeowner Tips for Farmhouse Kitchen Renovations


There are a few key decor elements that make up the ultimate farmhouse kitchen.

  • Apron front sink
  • White painted cabinets
  •  Open shelving
  •  Rustic, contrasting colored hardware
  1. Wood, soapstone or marble countertops
  2. Glass canisters and accessories
  3. Islands and stools

Updating a kitchen can be a costly endeavor. Styling a kitchen doesn’t have to be. If you are looking to give your drab kitchen a farmhouse facelift, here are a few ideas to get you there.
1. Feature contrasting colors with a coat of paint.  A fresh coat of paint goes a long way to make walls “pop.” This means that your cupboards cannot go neglected. So they will need either a fresh coat as well, or a new finish altogether. Once you’ve decided on your color palatte invest in your hardware.

2. Freestanding pieces of furniture are often key elements in a farmhouse styled kitchen. A hutch can double as an island or a sideboard.

3. The flooring is most often wood, but black and white tiles in a checkered pattern or terracotta tiles are popular as well.

4. Open shelving is a must. To keep your kitchen from looking cluttered by open shelving, use a few marquis pieces to showcase, and leave storage areas for the items that are quick to clutter.

5. Vintage decorations such as stoneware crocks, aprons, cast iron skillets and glass milk jars are just a few ideas.

6. Mason jars, whether used as every day glasses, vases for wildflowers or storage containers, are a staple in every farmhouse kitchen.

Improving Concentration In The Workplace

Learn to Focus

A limited attention span, restlessness and distractibility are all signs that you are not being your most effective at work. But the good news is that there is something you can do about it.  These following do-it-yourself tasks will help you to improve not only your concentration but the total effectiveness of your entire workday. Are you ready to get more done in less time?
Taking Control of Your Concentration to Increase Your Production
First things first – make an honest list of your biggest distractions.

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For many people it’s the internet, such as nonessential emails and social media, their phone, conversations with co-workers, breaking often for food, working in noisy offices and more. Half of any battle is recognizing and prioritizing what your biggest distractions are. Doing this simple task will help you work toward managing them, as well as having them organized in your mind.

Once you have the list of major distractors created, make a plan to get them out of your workday. It is easier than it may seem. Simply set up boundaries and only allow the distractive activities during your least productive hours and in small qualities. For real estate agents, this means absolutely none of these distractors should be available to you during your lead generation time in the morning.

Put an autoresponder on your email to let colleagues know you are working on your ONE Thing and will respond to all emails later. If there is an emergency, they should call you.

Unless Facebook is a major lead generation machine for you, and that is the only activity you are doing while on the site during your lead generation time block, turn it off. You may set out to check one update, but before you know it, you have spent 30 minutes or more engaging in activity that isn’t helping you with your production.

Turning the phone off is a little tricky as it should always be available for emergencies. Turn off text sound notifications and only answer essential calls. You can set your voicemail message to let callers know when your window for return calls will be.

If you are in a collaborative work environment and find it hard to concentrate with the noise and socialization, seek out a quiet place to work on your most critical tasks for the day. If this means working from your home office where you know you cannot be interrupted, do it and then go into the office later.

Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize.

Eliminating distractions is the first part of the battle. You need to remain focused on tasks once you are settled in to complete them. Tackle the highest priority first.Sometimes these projects are the ones we dislike doing the most. Putting them off leaves you with a lingering sense of dread and ineffectiveness. Finishing them off first and putting them behind you improves your organizational skills, and gives you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

Avoid Email Rabbit Holes

In a world where text and email make up a majority of business communications, it is important to be able to identify when a phone call would make things easier. If you find yourself in an email chain on a single topic that is beyond three messages,consider making a phone call to wrap up the issue.

Time block to check email. Put aside chunks of time to not only read your email list, but organize it. Answer the most pertinent messages first and work your way down the list. This rids the feeling of being constantly tied to your computer and phone and prevents email distractions.

Maximize Your Calendar

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First and foremost is time block. If it isn’t on your calendar, it doesn’t exist. Make sure all your daily tasks are allotted time on the calendar. Also, organize your calendar with category colors to separate tasks by work, home, recreation, etc. This will help you quickly scan and identify what you have for the day. Use alerts to remind and prepare yourself for upcoming events and deadlines.
Break It Off

Rome wasn’t built in a day and some of your projects won’t be completed in a day either. Compartmentalize those big projects. Breaking them down into tasks takes away the issues of size and scope and can prevent you from getting off track.

Take Space

Create a designated work space and be consistent about using it. Having an environment that is specific and conducive to work will increase your tendency to stay focused.

Tune Out

If you share a work area or are in a highly distracting environment, use headphones to tune out office noise. This is also a universal sign to your co-workers that you are trying to focus. You can also place a sign up to let people know you are working on your ONE Thing and they should come back later.

Avoid the Trap of Multi-Tasking

Multi-tasking is tempting. It also leads to common mistakes, lack of attention to detail and, when it goes wrong, a colossal waste of time. Stick to one task at a time, most especially on the highest priority projects.

Take a Break

Our brains need to reset and relax. Good options for breaks include a short a walk, stretch, meditation, eating a healthy snack, etc.
Make Sense of Scents

The following essential oils are believed to have these qualities:

Pine – increases alertness
Cinnamon – improves focus
Lavender – is relaxing
Peppermint – is mood lifting and can help with headaches
Citrus – induces happiness