Home Staging 101

Staging a home can help your property sell 73% quicker than a non-staged home, according to research from the Real Estate Staging Association. Some experts believe  this is because home staging increases the perception of the home’s worth. Below are a few of the most effective elements of home staging.

  • Clean. It may seem obvious but this step is the most important. The home needs to be a blank slate and that starts with pristine cleanliness. Deep clean the carpets, walls, kitchen and any surface they may interact with. Do not turn a buyer off with dust or grime.
  • Repair. Any holes, blemishes or cracks need to be fixed immediately. A spot free home suggests that the current homeowners kept the property up and makes the place shine.
  • Declutter. Clutter subconsciously stresses people out. A cluttered home can clutter the mind too. Maximize space by getting rid of all that stuff. In home staging, less is always more.
  • Depersonalize. Buyers want to be able to think about themselves in the space, and that’s harder to do when the home has someone else’s personal touches. Family photos, art, anything religious, and any kind of unique furnishings. Remove belongings from closets, cupboards, and bathrooms.
  • It starts at the front door. The yard, landscaping and front porch are a home’s first impression. Flowerbeds and gardens need to be fresh and tidy. Weeds should be pulled, lawns need to be manicured, and trees trimmed.
  • Open Up. Use as much natural light as possible inside the home by opening up all the windows. Arrange the furniture so that the home is walkable and open. Open up doorways in hallways.
  • Use tasteful accents. A bouquet of flowers, candles, succulent plants and house plants can all add lovely touches to a home and brighten things up. Plants liven a room but should be used sparingly. Place on tables, shelves or in corners to add a simple touch to a room.
  • Refresh dated fixtures. Upgrade the fire place, paint the cabinets, dress up your windows, or upgrade appliances to help modernize a space and make a home more attractive to buyers. Modernizing one piece per room makes a big difference.
  • Simplify. The biggest key to staging is to avoid overthinking. Take a less is more approach and aim to neutralize rooms so that they’re attractive to any kind of person. The biggest key is making everything is clean and bright. Do what you can to make the space the star.

According to New Survey Homebuyers, Now’s a Good Time to Buy

Good Time to Buy a Home

It’s a good time to buy a home, according to research from the National Association of Realtors. 65 percent of people echoed this sentiment in the Housing Opportunities and Market Experience, or HOME, report.  This enthusiasm is the highest it’s been since the second quarter of 2018.

Older boomers and those from the silent generation are the most optimistic, 75 percent said now is a good time. Just 51 percent of Millenials agreed. Home owners are more likely than renters to say that now is a good time to buy.

Good Time to Sell a Home

Even more people say it’s a good time to sell – 69 percent according to the HOME report. Earners who make $100,000 or more, people living in the West and Young Boomers were most likely to respond this way.

Feelings about the Economy

Sentiments about the American economy are mixed. Half of Gen-Xer’s say the economy is improving. And 53 percent of all groups say the economy is getting better. Rural Americans are more likely to say the economy is improving compared to Americans in urban areas.

Data Snapshot

Home Sales: The National Association of Realtors reported that February 2019’s existing-home sales gained their largest month-over-month gain since December 2015. Sales increased 11.8 percent from January.

Mortgage Rates: Mortgage rates have fallen or remained steady across the board, as of data from March 21, 2019. 30-year fixed rates fell 0.4 points 15-year fixed rates dropped 0.5 points, and 4-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages were unchanged.

North Carolina Strips Airbnb Broker’s Real Estate License

North Carolina has permanently revoked the real estate license of a popular entrepreneur and real estate broker; according to a report from the Asheville Citizen-Times. Shawn Johnson managed rental properties on Airbnb. State regulators are accusing him of keeping thousands of dollars from the Airbnb property owners he managed. The North Carolina Real Estate commission also charges that he ran an unlicensed real estate firm, broke Asheville bans on short-term rentals, and deposited Airbnb owner’s money to his own accounts.

Johnson says his relationship with the property owners doesn’t fall under the same set of state rules as the broker-client relationship. He says he did not need to keep trust accounts for Airbnb earnings. The state, however, made Johnson sign a consent order that made Johnson acknowledge he broke North Carolina regulations by not keeping trust accounts.

Johnson also contests that while he was managing Airbnb properties, he was acting more as a partner, and not as an official property manager. He does not believe he owes property owners money. In interviews with the Citizen-Times, property owners say Johnson owes them thousands in unpaid Airbnb rental fees. Some are pursuing legal action against him.

License revocations are infrequent and uncommon. The North Carolina Real Estate Commission supervises hundreds of thousands of brokers and typically revokes only a handful of licenses every year. Between 2016 and 2018 it revoked between ten to 14 licenses.

Staying up to date on licensing rules, regulations and requirements makes you a better realtor and protects you from legal trouble. North Carolina requires 8 hours of continuing education every year, and license renewal must be done by June 10.  At least 4 hours of CE must be done in a classroom, but the rest can be completed online at your leisure. Learn more on our North Carolina Licensing FAQ page.

Kansas Real Estate Sales Down, Home Prices Remain Strong

Overall real estate sales have decreased and prices remain stable in 2019, according to new data from the Kansas Association of Realtors.

Home Sales

The most recently available statistics from January show that home sales in the sunflower state are down 8.2 percent compared to January 2018. These numbers mirror national trend: American home sales across the board are down 8.5 percent over 2018.

Home Prices

The good news: Kansas home prices are stable and in some cases, increasing. The average sale price in January was $200,772. Home prices are generally increasing across the Midwest and country.


The number of active listings is also increasing. There were 9,828 Kansas listings in January, up 2.3 percent from the same time last year.

Days on the Market

The number of days on the market is growing smaller. The average Kansas home was up for sale 66 days, a decrease compared to last year.

Mortgage Rates

Rates have been dipping even lower recently, according to FreddieMac.com.

  • On average, the commitment rate on a 30-year conventional mortgage was 4.41 percent across the country, as of March 6, 2019.
  • That percentage is 3.83 percent on 15-year FRM rates
  • Finally, 5/1-year ARM mortgages have a 3.87 percent commitment rate.

FreddieMac.com says that in late 2018, mortgage rates rose over a full percentage point compared to 2017, which is what caused a delay in home sales in the first few weeks of the new year.

Commercial Real Estate: An Attractive Victim for Hackers

Data breaches affect every kind of business and Internet user. And sophisticated hackers target commercial real estate in hopes of a big payday, according to Minnesota lawyer Nadeen Schwen, in an interview with Minnesota Lawyer.

Why do hackers target real estate business?

Hackers follow the money. Schwen says they have many chances to manipulate and profit off of real estate transactions and target everyone from attorneys, to buyers, to agents, to brokers online.

Once a hacker has compromised an email thread, they will send out bogus invoices, bank documents or receipts and pose as a major player in the real estate transaction. As soon as the target of the email authorizes any transaction, they kiss that money goodbye.

How do I keep my business safe?

  1. Change your passwords. This is the simplest defense and will be most effective when passwords have a mix of numerals, characters, letters and a mix of capital and lowercase. Change your log-in info often.
  2. Protect customer data. Any financial information or sensitive information should be considered valuable and protected with encryption software.
  3. Surf safely. Block and limit sites that you and your employees can view.
  4. Invest in anti-virus software. Get over the dread of paying a big price tag upfront. If a hack happens, it could spell catastrophe down the line.
  5. Keep your software up to date and use the latest versions of any apps or technology you employ at your business.
  6. Use secure devices. Do not do business on public computers or shared devices, that may unintentionally store log-in information and other data.
  7. Make a plan. Devise a cyber security policy and make sure your employees understand how it works. Figure out how your company will secure data, back up data, and create an emergency response plan in the event of an attack.

Mississippi Real Estate Investors Jailed After Bid-Rigging Scheme

Nine real estate investors in southern Mississippi are facing jail time and hefty fines after violating federal antitrust laws, reports WLOX. On February 21, 2019, Christopher Vaughan and Jon Gregg Goodhart Jr. were ordered four months jail time for their part in a bid-rigging scheme.

WLOX reports that Vaughan and Goodhart Jr. conspired not to bid against each other on properties at real estate foreclosure auctions between 2009 and 2017. They predetermined a bid winner and exchanged payouts to their counterparts who did not compete against them in the bidding process.

Their illegal agreement prevented competition and drove property prices down. Vaughan was ordered to pay $20,000 in fines plus restitution. Ivan Spinner, Jason Boykin, Shannon Boykin, Kimberly Foster, Kevin Moore, Chad Nichols and Terry Tolar were also sentenced in a separate part of the same investigation.

They were sentenced to four months of jail plus fines between $20,000 to $48,000 and restitution to victims of their crimes. Bid rigging is market manipulation has been illegal since the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. Experts say bid rigging hurts free market competition as well as taxpayers and consumers.

Bid rigging comes in many forms, according to Investopedia:

  • Rotating the bid winner
  • Intentionally selecting bidders to sit out of the auction process to let someone else win
  • Placing uncompetitive bids to let another bidder win
  • “Phantom bidders” that place fake bids to spur real bidders to go higher than normal

Bid rigging and other ethical and legal topics are covered in our comprehensive continuing education classes.

The classes are available online from any Wi-Fi connection on tablet, computer or cellphone.

Real Housewives of New Jersey Star Hosting $10,000 Real Estate Seminar

Investor, developer and reality star Joe Gorga is offering his real estate tips in a special, one day class. While he promises a day with him will change your career, it will cost you. A lot. $10,610.38 to be exact. So, what, precisely, does that buy you? The pricey seminar comes with a front row seat at his March 23 seminar at the Westin Hotel, a signed copy of his book, and a full day in the life of Joe Gorga.

Joe and his wife Melissa Gorga have been stars on the Real Housewives of New Jersey since 2011. The show often features his real estate and construction ventures, plus plenty of footage of the couple’s 9,500 square foot mansion in Montville. Which, by the way, sold in 2018 for a little more than $3 million.

Joe Gorga has made his millions through his career in real estate, and you can too. These days, real estate education is accessible, and won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Classes and continuing education are available online from any tablet, phone or computer. The resources are available 24/7. New Jersey’s real estate licenses require 12 hours of continuing education every two years, and needs to be done by April 30, 2019.

Steph Curry is Selling his Beautiful North Carolina Mansion

Steph Curry’s North Carolina Home | Realtor.com

Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry plays like a champion and lives like a king. To see what I mean, just check out his North Carolina home on Realtor.com, the place is stunning. The European-style new construction home features four bedrooms, three full and three half baths and is 7,467 square feet on a half-acre lot.

The home, built in 2008, has luxurious touches including stone fireplaces, stain panel rooms, mahogany doors, a four car garage, huge tub in the master suite, a movie room and finished basement. Jacarr Realty is selling the property and asking $1.55 million. The North Carolina native moved into the home 30 miles south of Charlotte in May 2011 and paid $1.275 million.

Currently, his wife, Ayesha and their children live in Alamo, California. The Sacramento Bee says their new pad is 10,290 square feet with a 1.56 acres. They’ve lived there for nearly three years.

Last Chance for Michigan Real Estate Salespersons and Brokers!

If you’re a realtor in Michigan and you want to keep your license, listen up. Anyone who became licensed before August 2nd, 2018 is required to complete 18 hours of continuing education before October 31st, 2018. That includes 6 hours of approved continuing education for each year of the licensing cycle and 2 hours of continuing education each calendar year in Legal Updates.

The deadline is fast approaching, here’s a breakdown of what you need to know to maintain your good status as a Michigan realtor.

Who: Michigan real estate brokers and salespersons need to complete mandatory licensing, and Legal Update education courses
What: Brokers and salespersons must finish 18 hours of continuing education courses, including two hours of Legal Update courses by the deadline.
When: October 31st, 2018 is the deadline to complete these courses. It’s also the deadline to renew your license.
Where: You can complete your training online with courses you can access from any computer.
How: Finish your continuing education on your own time and with your own computer from anywhere with an internet connection. These courses let you print out a certificate immediately upon completion.

License renewal costs:
$108 – brokers
$78 – salespersons
$60 – branch offices

What if I don’t complete my continuing education by October 31st?

It’s not good news. The Michigan Department Licensing and Regulatory Affairs audit Michigan realtors regularly. If they find out you have not completed your requirements, they will require you to complete additional hours of continuing education. It could be four to eight more hours, which will not count towards the next licensing cycle’s continuing education hours.

What if I don’t renew my license by October 31st?

There is a 60 day grace period. Breathe. You’ll be okay, but the grace period ends December 31, 2018. If you renew in this time it will, however, cost you a $20 late fee.

What happens if my Michigan real estate salesperson or broker license is expired more than 60 days?

Michigan salespeople and brokers must complete reinstatement forms in order to renew their licensing. You will have to complete a salesperson reinstatement form or a broker reinstatement form in order to renew.

  • If your license is expired between 60 days & 3 years
    Pay an application processing fee, a late renewal fee, and the per year licensing fee. In addition, you must satisfy any penalties and conditions imposed by Michigan or any other jurisdiction.
  • If your license has been expired more than 3 years
    You will have to meet requirements set by the Department of Professional Licensing. You may be required to pass all or part of an exam or meet current education or training requirements.