Frustration At The Fence

Imagine your client finds the perfect house with the perfect yard for their dog, but something is wrong. The soon-to-be neighbors have dogs and there seems to be frustration at the fence.

While this can be serious, it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker for the house. Here is expert advice you can share with your clients.

When your dogs run the fence barking at dogs on the other side, it is known as “fence fighting.” This is frustrating for both you and your dog. For the most part, this behavior is extremely stressful for your dog. If you share a fence with a neighbor who also has a dog, this problem quickly escalates into a bigger issue.

Fence-fighting is a manifestation of barrier frustration (restraint frustration), the feeling your dog has when they can see an objective but cannot reach it. This stress can lead to bigger problems (even a type of obsessive compulsive disorder, OCD) and can be potentially dangerous to your dog.  But, you have the power to manage the situation and bring peace back to your yard.

 

Install a solid fence. An expensive solution, but often the most effective. By blocking the dog’s visual access you greatly reduce the arousal to begin the undesired behavior in the first place. If you have a chain link fence, place a netting or other visual block so the dogs can’t see each other.

Interrupt the behavior at the onset. The instant your dog begins thinking about engaging in fence fighting, bring him inside. This requires you to be outside monitoring him. If you leave your dog’s outside while you are not home, be aware that the more your dog escalates and ‘practices’ this naughty behavior, the more difficult it will be to modify.  When possible, the best solution is to keep your dog indoors when you are not supervising them in the yard.

Avoid using aversion techniques. Shock collars, hot fences and bark collars may stop your dog from barking temporarily, but it won’t solve the underlying issue. By adding a physical punishment of any sort adds to your dog’s stress and further conflicts him. A trainer can work with you and teach you how to utilize positive training techniques.

Designate an area of your yard for your dog away from the fence/neighbor’s dog.By putting space between the issue on the fence, you can reduce some of the tension and frustration.

If your neighbor’s dog participates in this behavior, approach one another on the issue and work out a plan to manage it. Sometimes a rotation schedule for two weeks will wind down the stress and anxiety between the dogs. Follow this up with a behavior modification program with a trainer and you can begin to get in front of the issue.

 

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Bringing The Indoors To The Outdoors

Longer days and warmer weather make May the perfect time to celebrate National Barbecue Month.

As the weather warms up, so does the housing market, and real estate agents might find their buyers spending just as much time evaluating the outside of the house as they do the inside. They might also be working with sellers who want to make some improvements to the home that will deliver the most return.

The National Gardening Association reported that homeowners in the United States spent close to $40 billion last year on all garden and outdoor-related services and products. And, according to real estate experts, these were wise expenses. It is estimated that for every dollar invested in landscaping projects, homeowners can see up to a $2 return on investment.

Fifty-one percent of buyers surveyed by Realtor.com earlier this year said that outdoor living space was the most attractive quality of a home – even more so than open floor plans and curb appeal. To that end, more than half of homeowners surveyed told Houzz.com they would be improving their home’s outdoor footprint this summer. What are they going to improve? A whopping 98 percent want to add or upgrade patios, terraces and decks.

Outdoor areas add living space without having to include walls and a roof.
According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, 95 percent of people want a complete outdoor living space with an outdoor kitchen and outdoor living area.

The most popular features wanted in outdoor living spaces are:

 

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Grills & cooktops

Fire pits

Outdoor fireplaces

Seating areas

Lighting

 

Outdoor Living Area Tips to Share with Your Clients

The key elements to improving an outdoor living space and adding to your home’s value are:

  1. Build an outdoor area. Patios and decks are very desirable for homeowners; however, they come with a hefty price tag. You can affordably improve your outdoor footprint with a stone or cement patio.
  2. Purchase Outdoor Furniture. Bring your “indoor” comforts outside. Advances in all-weather materials, furniture and accessories are now available in so many sizes and styles that you can decorate much the same way that you would any room inside.
  3. Splurge on a Good Grill. Depending on your preference, gas or charcoal, grills are the “hottest” commodity in your outdoor space. A built-in cooktop is a popular feature and makes outdoor entertaining fun.
  4. Include a Fire Element. Whether you decide on a built-in stone hearth fireplace, a firepit or a chiminea, a fire element adds ambience and warmth to an outdoor space that can be used year-round.

 

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  1. Consider Entertainment. Be it an elaborate outdoor entertainment system, a wireless player or a portable stereo, music adds atmosphere and entertainment to the area.
  2. Grow Your Food. A garden is a great addition to your outdoor area. Vegetables, fruits and herbs are not only an added visual attraction, they are economical and handy.
  3. Lay Ground Cover and Stonework. Lawn maintenance is a major consumption of time. It can be reduced by adding stonework and ground covering to areas around your outdoor living space. Additionally, stone makes for safer grilling areas, fewer bugs and easy cleanup.

When Renovations and Major Improvements Are Out of the Budget HiRes.jpg

When making permanent additions and renovations to the backyard are not options, homeowners can still spruce things up and make their backyard an enjoyable part of their home by following these simple steps:

Step 1 – Clean. Clear away debris, toss out dead plants and plant flowers or herbs in unused pots.

Step 2 – Refresh. Outdoor furniture grows old and tired from sitting outside. A fresh coat of paint and new cushions add an instant facelift. The same applies for wood decks. If you have a deck, a strip and stain will make it look as good as new.

Step 3 – Enhance. Solar lighting can used be in lieu of expensive electrical lighting.

Expanding the indoor living space to the outdoor living space not only adds value to a home, but also enjoyment.

 

Growing Value – Tips For Curb Appeal

Spring rains have saturated most of the U.S. this April and now is the time for homeowners to get outside and enhance their lawn, flowers and gardens, especially if planning to sell a home this summer.

Landscaping curb appeal is a known added value for home sellers, serving as a first impression of a home. Agents and buyers agree that a lush lawn and tidy landscape add to a home’s value and reflects positively on the overall care and condition of the property.

The four most common areas of landscaping that have the biggest impact on buyers are:

Lawn and landscaping 

Outdoor lighting

Fencing

                                     Front entrance including the driveway and walkway

Home owners don’t have to take on a massive landscape transformation to benefit from a curb appeal spruce up. To instantly add curb appeal without making a large investment, homeowners should:

  1. Keep a trim and healthy lawn with weekly mowing and line trimming. Clean up outdoor light fixtures from dust, cobwebs and dirt.
  2. Add solar lights along walkways and in flowerbeds to add nighttime appeal and effect. If the home has a wood fence, paint the ‘showing’ side and repair loose boards, holes and worn areas.
  3. Weed and clean the driveway area and walkway.
  4. The front entry is a home’s welcome sign. A freshly painted front door, a potted plant, a rocking chair and a welcome mat go a long way to a great looking entry.

LAWN CARE

Know your lawns
Before throwing down any seed or sod, homeowners should know what lawns do best in their location. Grass types are classified as “Warm Season” grass or “Cool Season” grass. This is determined by the grasses’ active growth period. For example, areas in the middle of the country are known as the transition zone. Mixtures of cool- and warm-season grasses are often necessary there, but cool-season varieties are the most successful.
Test your soil
Existing soil needs to have the proper pH value and nutrients to support a healthy lawn. Soil can be tested at any time. However, if you test in the fall or early spring, you have time to make adjustments before you start planting and tending to your lawn.
Fertilize
Different types of grass require different fertilizers. As previously mentioned, know what type of grass your have in your yard and fertilize appropriately and at the right time. If you have pets or children, be sure to purchase a fertilizer that is safe for them.

Mowing a Lawn 101

Stick to the 1/3 rule try not to remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade length in a mowing.

Mow when the grass is dry. This is when grass blades are upright, and less clumping.

Mow in the morning or night. Mowing in the heat of the day stresses the grass.

Aim mower clippings (unless you bag them) towards the area you have already cut.

Leave clippings (unless you bag them, or their clumped) as it returns nutrients and nitrogen to the lawn.

If you bag your clippings, consider composting them.

Pruning
Prune away winter damage once plants have lost their leaves. Cut limbs back to live wood.

Mulching
If you’re mulching a large area, use a cheaper hardwood mulch for the ‘filler’ then top-dress it with your mulch of choice. You can also top-dress old mulch by just adding a 1-inch layer on top.  It’ll look brand new, and you’re not paying for something you don’t see.

Planting Annuals
Annuals are plants that live for only one season. Late spring is the best time to plant annuals such as Petunias, marigolds, salvia, and impatiens. Make sure roots are not too matted so they can expand into the soil.
Gardens
Flower gardens make a yard look beautiful and welcoming. Vegetable gardens give the added bonus of providing fresh vegetables to eat.

One of the best gardening tools is a monthly landscaping calendar. To download one for your area, visit The National Gardening Association’s website. Plug in your zip code and you get a specific plan for your area.

Plants, flowers and shrubbery are great ways to add allure and definition to a home’s landscape. Flowering plants are a wonderful addition, but homeowners should consider the appeal when the plants are not in season and flowering.

Planted herbs are easy to plant and maintain. They also do great in pots for entryways and backyard patios.

By investing a little time and money into the yard this spring, homeowners can increase their home’s valuable first impression and “wow” factor.

Spring Clean Your Online Presence

Spring is here and that means more buyers and sellers will begin searching for a real estate agent to help them move this year. To get ready, it is time for you to do some spring cleaning – and we don’t mean dusting blinds or the tops of refrigerators. We are talking about your professional online profile. With an estimated 90 percent of home buyers beginning their search online, you can’t afford to have an outdated online presence.

Time-block a couple hours this week to review your online profiles and get them up-to-date. Here is a checklist to help you get started.

CheckYour LinkedIn Profile 

Make sure you have a professional head shot. This is your digital business card and you want to look like the successful agent you are.

Have you won any awards recently or been published in any local publications? Get those on your profile! You want to make sure to update your profile every time you have a new accomplishment.

Ask for recommendations. More than ever, clients rely on testimonials to help them make purchasing decisions and real estate agents are not exempt from this. Don’t be afraid to ask current and past clients to write you a short recommendation on LinkedIn. You can also ask your clients for permission to use their testimonial on your website as well. Set a goal to add several new recommendations every quarter.

CheckYour Website

Make sure your LinkedIn profile matches your website bio.

In addition, if you have a website blog, check when your last publication was. If potential clients see that you last posted information in 2015, or worse, earlier, they might think you aren’t active enough to represent them. Clients want agents who know the industry and the local market. Your website is a great place to show them you are the expert in both! Keep your website content consistent and relevant.

CheckSocial Media Pages

Consistency across all channels is key. If you make updates to your LinkedIn profile and your website, you should also update your other accounts such as Facebook and Twitter.

Take a look at your social media pages and ask yourself, “Would this page impress me if I were looking for an agent?” Keep that in mind not just when you make updates, but every time you post.

 

Stay. Sit. Sell. How Pet Friendly Homes Can Be A Benefit

There was a time when selling a home with a pet was a major issue for sellers and real estate agents. Great efforts went into masking odors, eliminating stains, putting up food/water bowls, closing doggy doors, removing litter pans, putting toys away and even finding a place for the pet to be during showings. Needless to say, it required a lot of extra work on top of the other tasks needed to get the home ready for showing.

In today’s market, most of this has changed, and pet-friendly homes are now considered by many to be a benefit.

With 65 percent of households currently owning a pet, having a pet is no longer a “downside” when it comes to buyers and sellers. However, even though 79 million households have at least one pet, home owners still need to present a clean, pet-stain and odor-free home when listing it for sale.

More than just having pets, an estimated 83 percent of people actually consider the pet a member of the family. This is causing home owners and agents to see pet-friendly homes in a different light.

Agents understand that people are passionate about their pets. But more than understanding that passion is delivering service that meets the client’s specific needs.

Ways Real Estate Agents Can Become More Pet-Savvy
Agents can attract more pet-friendly clients by marketing themselves as pet-savvy. To do so, agents should invest in some general education about pets and their needs. This will allow them to spot key features of a home that would attract a person with a pet.

Agents can connect with pet professionals and businesses in their area to market their services. Great places to start include training schools, rescue organizations, pet stores and boarding facilities.

Agents can join special groups and networks such as the Pet Realty Network which connects buyers and sellers with pet-savvy real estate agents. Agents can also connect with other agents for referrals.

The Buyer Agent

During the initial meeting with a buyer, agents should get information about the buyer’s pets. A separate questionnaire just for the pet needs might be beneficial. This allows the agent to see exactly what features they should look for to help make the home not only perfect for their client, but for the client’s pets as well.

For example, a buyer with two big dogs will likely appreciate a larger fenced yard over an amenity that offers little by the way of quality of life for the dogs.

If the buyer is looking for a home in an HOA-regulated community, agents should inform their clients about potential restrictions placed on pet ownership. For example, there could be a limit on the size or type of pet allowed.

The Seller Agent

Because pet ownership is so common, it makes for a natural selling point when showcasing a pet-friendly home. Aspects such as secure fencing, convenient access to the yard, easy-to-clean floors and even a pet-friendly town can all be considered added value to a home.

When selling a home with a pet currently in residence, agents should share these reminders with their clients:
• Nobody loves your pet as much as you do. For the safety and wellbeing of everyone,              including your pet, it is best if your pet is either put up safely, or is away from the home during a showing.
• Clean up toys, bones, beds, and all other pet-related items.
• Thoroughly clean all floors and carpets of dirt and stains.
• Eliminate litter boxes until the showing is over.
• Make sure the yard is picked up.

An agent who can address the specific needs of a client with a pet is extremely valuable.

Break Free From Constant Emails

How many times have you checked your email today? If you’re like more than a third of the email-using population, you constantly check it throughout the day.

That was a finding from a recent study by BlueHornet. The email marketing company wanted to know how many times a day the average consumer checked their inbox. It turns out that most people check their email a lot. In fact, almost 60 percent of survey participants check their email a minimum of 4 times a day.

While the survey results clearly showed email distraction is a problem facing the majority of people, it also shows that there is a segment of the population that has learned how to keep their bad email habits under control. As overuse of email can seriously impede our productivity at work, let’s take a page from the lesson books of those who aren’t tied to their email to break free of unproductive email habits.

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Don’t Check Your Email First Thing in the Morning

There are a few reasons to forgo email early in the morning. For one, it’s not the best use of your time. Economic behaviorist Dan Ariely has found that the morning hours between 9am-12pm are when people are most productive. He calls the first few hours after fully waking the “golden hours”. This is when your brain is ready to handle complex cognitive tasks – which doesn’t include email.

Another reason to wait a few hours before checking your email is that it will cut down on the need to open your email. The majority of emails are sent between the hours of 6am and 12pm. If you wait to check your email until noon you’ll see the bulk of your emails for the day in one fell swoop.

Create an Email Autoresponder That Sets You Up for Success

When productivity coach Tim Ferris set out to reduce his email consumption, he did one thing that made a huge difference. He created an autoresponder that let people know he only checks his email once a day, and if an immediate response is needed, the person can call instead. This sets expectations and gives Tim the leverage to stick to checking his email just one time a day.

Silence Emails on Your Cell Phone

One of the best things about traveling by air is that it’s an email-free zone. There’s a freeing feeling when you know you can’t check it. It’s the chains that bind you to your email breaking free. Whenever you need to take a break from email “airplane mode” on your phone or tablet is your best friend. An even better option is to turn email notifications off in your settings so you aren’t alerted each time an email comes in.

Disable Email Apps

BlueHornet found that one big reason for the rise in checking email is mobile technology. Now that our email can be accessed on our smart phones it’s with us all the time. Basically, it’s way too easy to check your email from anywhere.

If checking email on the go has become a bad habit you may want to consider removing your email apps. It may sound extreme, but removing the convenience factor is a surefire way to decrease the amount of time you spend checking email.

Keep Email Off Your Browser

If your email is open on your browser, then you have a constant reminder that’s making it harder to ignore. It also makes checking your email as easy as clicking a tab, which increases the likelihood that you’ll take a peek. When email is the first thing you see when you turn on your computer, it’s also more difficult to keep email out of your golden hours.

Disconnect Your Email From Your To-Do List

Too many people use their email to remind them of things that need to be done. All that does is add another to-do to your list – constantly checking your email. A purposely-built task app will ultimately be more efficient, useful and cut down on the time dedicated to email.

Keep Your Documents Separate From Your Email

Your email can be a convenient spot to store documents, but it can also lead to distraction if you have to open your inbox. Storing your documents online is a great idea that prevents information from being permanently lost, however, there are better options than email. Google documents and Dropbox are two excellent options for storing documents and sharing them with others.

Spring Cleaning Will Increase Property Value

How to Boost Property Values This Spring

Spring cleaning is the perfect opportunity for home owners to de-clutter and organize their home. It is an especially important task for home owners who currently have their home listed or plan to list in the near future. Taking the time to spruce up the home can help increase value and make a good impression on potential buyers.

Here are a few simple projects that can have a big impact on a home.

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Real estate agents can share these tips with clients to help them prepare their home for sale. To download this graphic click here.

By taking the time to deep clean and reorganize this spring, home owners can increase their resale value over the short term.

It is important to note that not all spring cleaning projects are created equal. Some projects may have a nice temporary appearance, but they don’t hold up in the long run. When time is an issue, the priority should be cleaning overgrown landscaping, painting the interior and exterior, cleaning all baseboards and clearing gutters of debris which causes pest and paint problems when left untreated.

Time permitting, power wash patios and decks to remove mold and dirt to make the area appear clean and newer. And, don’t forget the attic. As buyers are not house guests, expect them to look in closets and attics. Take time to really organize and clean.