Why You Need Your Own Agent When Buying New Construction (Or ANY Property)

    In the market to purchase property or a home? Do you have an agent representing you as a buyer? As a buyer in the real estate market it is essential to have a qualified buyer’s agent represent you and protect your best interests, whether you are purchasing an existing home listed for sale by another agent, purchasing a lot for sale, or looking to build or purchase from a new home builder. A good real estate agent does a lot more than just find a property for you and open doors. They provide professional representation and expertise to get you through the sometimes complicated negations that follow an offer to purchase. Here are 5 fast facts about buyer agency that can help you decide if you need a buyer’s agent:
  • A buyer’s (aka selling agent) agent is a real estate agent that has a fiduciary duty to represent the interests of the buyer. A seller’s agent (aka listing agent) has a fiduciary duty to represent the interests of the seller.
  • In simple terms, Fiduciary means involving TRUST. When we refer to the fiduciary responsibilities an agent has to a buyer or seller we refer to the duties of care, confidentiality, loyalty, obedience, full accounting, and full disclosure that agent owes his or her client.
  • So what does all this fiduciary business mean? It means that the listing agent (or new homes salesperson) has a duty to look out for the best interests of the seller (or builder) they are representing. A lot of new home buyers walk into builder model homes without representation. Don’t get me wrong, builders and their sales reps aren’t necessarily bad people. New home salespeople do a good job selling homes and have a duty to look out for the interests of their builder, not yours. A buyer’s agent has a duty to look out for your best interest if they are representing you. Not to mention that builders not only pay commissions to realtors representing new home buyers, they often offer bonuses on top of commissions to realtors because they want more buyer business. So bringing a real estate agent on to represent your new construction purchase brings benefits to all parties.
  • If you are working towards a purchase without your own buyer’s agent please understand that the listing agent (or builder salesperson) has an obligation to disclose anything you say or do that could help the seller or builder they represent. If you are okay with that you might be ready for Dual Agency. Not okay? Then you need to get your own agent to represent you independently from the seller or builder as a buyer.
  • What is this Dual Agency business? Dual agency means the agent is representing both the buyer and the seller. In most states this type of agency requires written disclosure and acceptance by both the buyer and seller agreeing to representation by the same agent. Essentially both parties to the sale are agreeing to forgo the duties of full disclosure and undivided loyalty. The agent will fill out the necessary paperwork and provide necessary comps to both sides while providing both parties with duties of obedience, confidentiality, and full accounting. As a real estate agent I’ve represented both the buyer and the seller multiple times through disclosed dual agency with written consent from both parties. Real estate agents often love and benefit from dual agency by receiving double the commission. Please understand that for the purposes of this post I’m referring directly to the type of dual agency created when an individual agent represents both the buyer and the seller on the purchase and sale of the same property. Another type of dual agency called Broker Dual Agency is common and created when the listing and buyer agents are both part of the same brokerage company (for example both agents work for the same Coldwell Banker or Remax or independently owned firm).

I hope this post has been valuable and helps you decide if you need buyer representation in the future.

Xoxo,

Sarah

P.s. I’m a licensed Broker Associate with Coldwell Banker Alfonso Realty. If you’re looking for property on the Mississippi Gulf Coast I’d love to be your realtor! I can also refer you to the most qualified agents in this growing global market. Please share your buying experiences in the comments and contact me with any questions.


5 Things To Do Before Showing Your Home

    Homes that show better sell faster than others. This is true in any market. Thankfully you don’t have to get lucky to have a home that shows well. You just have to make sure you’ve taken these steps to prepare your home before each and every showing to make it standout.

Keys to a successful showing:

    Make a great first impression. Curb appeal is crucial when selling your home. Make sure the exterior of your home is welcoming and in good condition. Take care of power washing and any needed repairs/repainting before listing your home for sale. Keep landscaping and lawns freshly manicured and clear any walkways if necessary before potential buyers and agents show up. Add a new doormat, attractive wreath or potted seasonal plants to your entrance. These simple spruce ups can make your property stand out AND make buyers fall in love at first sight.
    Clear your home of clutter and personal items. Clutter removal is essential for good showings. Sparsely decorated tidy spaces feel bigger and appeal to a wider pool of buyers. Channel your inner Marie Kondo and let it go if it doesn’t spark joy. If you are overcrowded in your current home and looking to trade up to a bigger place it can be very helpful to rent a small storage space to store out of season clothing, files and personal items like artwork or hunting trophies that might not spark joy in a potential buyer. While you’re clearing out and cleaning up be sure to store other very personal items like degrees and family photos. You want every buyer to picture themselves living in your home, not to feel like they are peeking in on your personal life.
    Let in the light. No one wants to stumble around in the dark during a showing. Natural light and attractive lighting shows your home in its BEST light. You don’t want buyers to miss any great views or have your home appear dingy or depressing because of poor lighting. Open all of your blinds, shutters and draperies unless you are trying to minimize an eyesore like air conditioning units or a neighboring dumpster. Straighten up before showings and turn on all of your interior lights so your space will shine like a show home.
    Make your home comfortable. A comfortable temperature is crucial for a good showing. Check your thermostat and make sure your home isn’t too warm in the summer or too cool in the winter. This will keep buyers from wondering if your HVAC system needs expensive repairs. If you have an energy saving thermostat like Nest be sure to regulate it in advance so it won’t take hours for your home to feel comfortable for visiting buyers.
    Leave listing information out and easily accessible for showings. Buyers inevitably have questions while touring your home. Having your realtor leave color copies of the MLS listing along with any disclosure forms can provide quick answers to these questions and make it easy for parties to get questions answered and write an offer quickly if they are interested.

Opening your home up for showings can be stressful but following these tips can make showings more successful and the entire home selling process faster.

Happy showings!

Xoxo,

Sarah

What experiences can you share about your showing experiences? Please comment below and follow the blog. Thanks for reading!

P.S. If you’re looking to sell or buy property I’d love to be your realtor.


3 ways to bring more generosity to your personal and business relationships

Generosity. A word that evokes warm and fuzzy feelings. Like a pot of delicious gumbo, generosity goes a long way to fill aches in hearts and bellies. Generosity is a quality we could all use more of, myself included. Giving and receiving generously comes with a side of happiness and contentment. That’s some serious lagniappe.

Ready to get cooking? Here are 3 simple strategies to start creating more generosity in our relationships.

  1. A wise man once said what you appreciate appreciates. If you want more and want to give more, look at what’s in front of you and appreciate what you have. Starting your day with affirmations of appreciation like Stuart Smalley is one way to surely increase your gratitude. Gratitude goes great with generosity. Try to use “I appreciate…” in your communications with others. Keeping a journal to jot down what you appreciate in your life and what you notice others appreciating will help create more connections.
  2. Connect more in your daily interactions and conversations by focusing on the person you are speaking with. Ever felt anxious about meeting new people or drawn a blank when trying to have a conversation? Using the FROG 🐸 acronym can help you get to know anyone better and build a relationship.
  • F = Family. Ask about the other person’s family and where they are from.
  • R = Recreation. Ask the other person about hobbies and what they like to do and where they like to vacation.
  • O = Organizations. Ask what the other person does for work and about any organizations they belong to.
  • G = Goals. Ask the other person about their aspirations and life goals. It’s always fun to talk about our dreams. 3. Write more handwritten notes. If you don’t write handwritten notes, start. In the age of texting, email and social media handwritten snail mail stands out. Use personal, non branded stationary to write these notes. Be personal and optimistic when you write a note. Avoid using “I and Me” when you communicate. Try to be relational and focus on the person you are writing to. Human beings love to hear positive things about themselves. Writing handwritten notes that are positive and effective in expressing appreciation will set you up to be a great connector.

Building a life and business around generosity creates beneficial relationships for everyone by sharing and supporting each other. Just like the key to a perfect pot of gumbo is having enough hands to stir the roux continuously and add ingredients at just the right time. My friend was generous enough to share her family’s gumbo recipe and I’m honored to share it with you. If all this reading is making you hungry these ingredients will surely make a generous pot gumbo to share.

Louisiana Seafood Gumbo

PREP TIME: 1 Hour

SERVES: 12

COMMENT:

The premier soup of Cajun country, seafood gumbo, is known worldwide as the dish to seek out when visiting South Louisiana. There are as many recipes for this soup as there are people who cook it. This, however, is a favorite.

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound (35-count) shrimp, peeled and de-veined

1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat

2 dozen shucked oysters, reserve liquid

3 quarts shellfish stock

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup flour

2 cups chopped onions

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped bell pepper

1/4 cup diced garlic

1/2 pound sliced andouille sausage

1 pound claw crabmeat

2 cups sliced green onions

1/2 cup chopped parsley

salt and cayenne pepper

Louisiana Gold Pepper Sauce

METHOD:

In a 7-quart cast iron dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in flour and, using a wire whisk, stir constantly until brown roux is achieved. Do not allow roux to scorch. Should black specks appear in roux, discard and begin again. Once roux is golden brown, add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic. Sauté approximately 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Add andouille, blend well into vegetable mixture and sauté an additional 2-3 minutes. Add claw crabmeat and stir into roux. This will begin to add seafood flavor to the mixture. Slowly add hot shellfish stock, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly until all is incorporated. Bring to a low boil, reduce to simmer and cook approximately 30 minutes. Add additional stock if necessary to retain volume. Add green onions and parsley. Season to taste using salt, pepper and Louisiana Gold. Fold shrimp, lump crabmeat, oysters and reserved oyster liquid into soup. Return to a low boil and cook approximately 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings and serve over cooked rice.

Cheers to cooking up more gratitude and generosity. Special thanks to Sarahbeth, Mark and Lauren.

Xoxo,

Sarah

P.S. The inspiration for this post came from interviews with former colleagues who shared generously about their personal and professional journeys. A recommended “must read” book was the primary source for this blog post. Many thanks to Michael Maher for 7L: The Seven Levels of Communication. You can follow this link to purchase a copy:

https://www.amazon.com/7L-Levels-Communication-Relationships-Referrals-ebook/dp/B00MLDGKLW/ref=nodl_


3 truths about marketing your business on social media

Social media. Love it or love to hate it, social media is a free way for entrepreneurs to build business. Like a relationship, navigating social media can be complicated and confusing at times. Since February is the month of love, I’m sharing a few tried and true tips to make your business relationship with social media more lovable.

Full disclosure: I am no social media expert. I made a new friend on Facebook named Joel. Please don’t confuse Joel with Tom, the first friend you made after signing up for MySpace. Joel is a real life Awesome Social Media Guru who has a background in branding and social media strategy. I’m grateful for all the tips he’s shared with me and he suggested that I share them with you. So grab some Kool Aid and get comfortable with your favorite mobile device while I come at you like Kenny Powers with some truths about social media marketing.

  1. Your friends on social media are your friends because of you. Not your business (unless you are Joel and you’ve made a bunch of new friends by sharing your business effectively). So when you make posts about your business on your personal social media be sure to include YOURSELF. If you are a realtor that might mean photos of you in front of properties you are selling or funny anecdotes about what happened while showing houses to buyers. If you are selling face products or lip gloss take a picture of yourself using the product. While it’s tempting and might feel safe to only share ready made marketing materials from your company or links about your business you run the risk of spamming your friends and audience. Which brings us to truth number..
  2. No one likes SPAM. Try to be original with your content and let your personality and passion shine through. People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Don’t worry too much about wether anyone will like what you post or how you look as long as you are front and center in your posts. People want to see your passion and vulnerability. Showcase your sense of humor in posts about your insurance business. Give a behind the scenes look at your restaurant. Be that cool mortgage broker who not only shows up for closing but buys the champagne at a bar afterwards and posts about it. I’m at the beginning of this social media journey and I’m making plenty of mistakes. My apologies to anyone I’ve spammed. It’s easy to get excited about a company offering or rate drop and just hide behind a canned image or statistic. How many skincare posts about paste did you see today? Which ones actually caught your interest? Which brings me to truth number…
  3. Social media is a party! Life and businesses have their ups and downs but be positive in your posts. And show up for the party! Be active and SOCIAL before and after you post. Don’t post and run. With new algorithm changes the first 15 minutes after you post are critical for likes to appear at the top of feeds. Take advantage of new features offered by the platform you’re using to boost your post for FREE. On Facebook this means going live, using messenger and and options like Gifs and Stickers. Helpful hint for anyone who isn’t seeing posts from the friends they want to see in their feed…Send them a messenger message and have a conversation and you will see them pop up to the top of your Facebook feed because Facebook thinks you are FRIENDS. Instagram is all about telling stories through pictures and using hashtags. It’s a great way to build a following with people you’ve never met by showcasing your style.

Hope these tips are helpful and let me know how you’re using social media as an entrepreneur to boost your business!

Xoxo,

Sarah

P.s. I still have so much to learn about using social media to promote business. I wish I’d started using it years ago for real estate. I’ve seen many friends and coworkers use social media to launch their businesses to the next level and I’ll be reaching out to ask them to share their secrets for future posts. If you are an entrepreneur who is interested in keeping up with social media changes and networking with other entrepreneurs (no spamming allowed) let me know. Cheers to successful selling!


You know it might be Mardi Gras when…

  • Your toddler has glitter all over his mouth and looks like he made out with a stripper.
  • Beads are flying around the car on the drive home from school.
  • You’ve eaten something king cake for breakfast more times this week than you care to admit.

So much fun to be had during carnival. Parade season is in full swing and it’s almost over. Mardi Gras is scheduled to occur 47 days before Easter and can occur on any Tuesday between February 3 -March 9th. There are only a few parades left for the 2018 season. Grab some king cake while you can and I’ll share a taste of my favorite traditions that you might want to partake in next year. https://www.randazzokingcake.com

The word Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” and reflects on the practice of indulging in rich food before the lent season begins. The carnival season is based on Catholic traditions and events start after the Twelfth Night on January 6th. You can find delicious king cakes right after Christmas and all throughout the carnival season. On the coast these cakes are baked using a twisted cinnamon roll-style dough and can be filled with cream cheese or fruity filling. A small plastic baby to represent baby Jesus is hidden inside the cake. It’s southern tradition for whoever finds the baby inside their cake to host the next Mardi Gras gathering and buy the next cake. These hard to resist cakes are topped with icing and sugar in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of green, gold and purple. The official colors were designated by the Krewe of Rex in 1872 and represent faith, power and justice. If you get depressed thinking about taking down Christmas decorations try decorating your home in these festive Mardi Gras colors and you’ll have an excuse to leave everything up until Ash Wednesday.

New Orleans is usually the first city that comes to mind when you think about Fat Tuesday. Mobile, Alabama actually started holding Mardi Gras celebrations in 1703, fifteen years before New Orleans caught on to the practice. Mystic societies in Mobile present parades and balls for members and the public to participate in during carnival season. Kings and Queens are crowned and balls are a great excuse to bust out your best black tie formals. Similar societies called Krewes were modeled after the mystics in New Orleans and along the Coast. Members are assessed fees to fund events and parading members are usually responsible for providing their own throws, aka beads and trinkets thrown out to the crowd.

New Orleans is well know for parades filled with spectacle and debauchery. Outside the French Quarter and along the coast you can find family friendly parades to enjoy where clothing isn’t optional and semi truck style floats throw plastic balls, cups, frisbees, stuffed animals, moon pies and hula hoops out to the crowd while everyone gets their boogie on.

So pack a cooler, get gussied up in Mardi Gras gear and come out to enjoy one of my favorite coastal traditions. Here are Fat Tuesday dates for the next five years so you can plan ahead:

  • March 5, 2019
  • February 25, 2020
  • February 16, 2021
  • March 1, 2022
  • February 21, 2023

Let the good times roll and don’t let a little rain spoil your fun.

Xoxo,

Sarah

P.S. I got this festive dress delivered for $35 via Amazon Prime

Forum 1920’s Masquerade Party Costume, Multi-Colored, One Size https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008BHE168/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_70FGAbN1TDM25

Rain boots too

NORTY Womens Hurricane Wellie Solid Gloss Mid-Calf Rain Boot, Hunter 38738-9B(M) US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01AES69S4/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_ngHGAbXK58X9A


5 Hot Mom Suits Under $35

Ready to say goodbye to winter? Me too. Spring break dreaming and I’ve been scoping out some super hot mom suits so you don’t have to. Grab your favorite broad spectrum SPF and some shades. It’s time to start shopping.

There’s nothing worse than going in to an actual store to shop for bathing suits. The lighting is terrible in those dressing rooms and selections are picked over. Thank god for internet shopping. You can browse suits on your phone and try them on in the comfort of your own home.

I love bathing suits. If you’re wearing a bathing suit, you’re probably doing something fun. You might be going to one of my favorite places. The lake, the pool, the beach. And if you’re wearing one of these one piece bathing suits I’m crushing on right now you’ll be fashionable and comfortable. Move over mom suits, hot suits are officially in season.

Pinterest and Polyvore are great resources for suit shopping online. You can find direct links to purchase with most images, like this stunning blue pin up number I found on Polyvore for $35.

https://www.herroom.com/empreinte-tw-sft-soft-padded-cup-plunge-control-one-piece-swimsuit.shtml#

This black suit I found on Pinterest has detail from top to bottom. $24.74

https://pin.it/cxhql5wywqylg6

Here are 3 suits I’m in love with right now from 3 of the most popular retailers:

I love this caged style so much I’m featuring 2 suits with it. Slimming in the front, good coverage across your bum and enough skin to keep things interesting. This Social Angel suit is $32.99 at Target. https://www.target.com/p/women-s-shibori-strappy-side-one-piece-swimsuit-social-angel/-/A-53273381#lnk=sametab&preselect=51793127

Anyone else addicted to Amazon Prime? This timeless black suit with strappy style was $15.99 delivered to my door. Substantial material that you can throw some shorts over and be comfortable in out of the water.

Belloo Womens Straps Cross Back One Piece Swimsuit, Black, M https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XWVYDSR/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_0D0CAbHB9Z0TA

I was grocery shopping at Walmart when this steal of a suit caught my eye. For $19.96 I had to toss it in my cart. I love the way it fits so much I went back and bought a second one. http://www.walmart.com/ip/No-Boundaries-Juniors-Cut-Out-Monokini-One-Piece-Swimsuit/540740645

I’m ready for more sunny days like this one. Get your shop on and let me know what you find to get suited up for spring.

Xoxo,

Sarah

P.s. Here is the store link from the Pinterest photo of the attention grabbing white hot suit https://pin.it/i455cnjjm7htph