July 13 Central Illinois Homes Guide Available Online!

Celebrating 35 years! The July 13 Central Illinois Homes Guide is available online.

Inside feature article: Your Ideal Vacation Home, According to your Zodiac Sign! (page 9)

Front Cover Spotlight: Carol Urish of Jim Maloof/REALTOR presents this beautiful, private, quiet estate on nearly 1.5 acres in the heart of Morton. This home has many unique features including an in-ground pool. Link for more information and photos inside on page 7.

Back Cover features homes listed by: Laura Booher – Century 21 Lincoln National Realty, Deb Miller – Jim Maloof/REALTOR, and Ryan Cannon – RE/MAX Traders Unlimited

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How to Be a Savvy Open House Guest

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*from houselogic

Getting smart — about what to do, ask, and avoid — can move you ahead of the crowd.

Ah, the open house — a chance to wander through other people’s homes and imagine yourself knocking out walls and gut rehabbing their kitchens. This is what dreams are made of (or at least episodes of HGTV).

In all seriousness, going to open houses (and scheduled private showings) is one of the most exciting parts of the home-buying experience. Beyond the voyeuristic thrill, visiting houses allows you to assess things that you just can’t see online.

Anyone who has taken a super-posed selfie knows that a picture doesn’t always tell the whole truth. Professional listing photos can make small rooms look spacious, make dim rooms bright, and mask other flaws of a home — but you don’t know any of that until you actually see the house yourself.

You can tour houses at any point, but it can be helpful to first discuss your needs and wants with your partner (if you have one), do some online research, and talk with your agent and your lender. That way, you — and your agent — can take a targeted approach, which saves you time and can give you an edge over your buying competition.

So, before you start viewing, follow these tips to get prepared.

Make It Your Job to Know Which Houses Are “Open”

There are four ways to know when a house is available for viewing:

  • Ask your agent. He or she will have details on specific properties and can keep you informed of open houses that fit your criteria.
  • Use listing websites. A number of property sites let you search active listings for upcoming open houses. On realtor.com®, for instance, when searching for properties, scroll over the “Buy” tab and click the “Open Houses” link to see upcoming ones in your area.
  • Scroll social media. On Instagram, for example, you can search the hashtag #openhouse, or similar tags for your city (#openhousedallas, for example), to discover open houses. Many real estate agents and brokerages also post open house announcements on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter; find ones from your area and start following.
  • Drive around. Cruise through the neighborhoods you’re interested in — it’s a good way to get a sense of the area amenities — and look for open house signs.

And while you’re searching, be sure to jot down the location, time, and date for any open house that strikes your fancy. It will make it that much easier to plan times and routes for hitting as many homes as possible.

Get There Early (and Say Hi to the Neighbors)

If you’re seriously interested in a home, show up to the open house early. That way you’ll beat the rush, and the agent showing the house (AKA the host) will have time to focus on you and your questions.

And don’t be shy! Many home buyers hop from one open house to the next without talking to the listing agent. But chatting up the host can help you learn information that you wouldn’t get by only touring the premises.

If a house seems like a match, take a walk around the neighborhood. Strike up conversations with the neighbors to get an insider’s perspective on what life in that community is really like — families, singles, what the vibe on the block is like, and whether the homeowner’s or condo association (if there is one) is easy to work with.

Ask Lots of Questions, But Avoid TMI

To make the most of your open house visits, have a list of questions in mind for the host — and take notes while you’re there, so you can keep track of what you learned.

At the same time, remember this: Your interaction with the host could be the beginning of negotiations with them. If you end up making an offer, you’ll use the information you’ve gathered to inform your bid. (They’ll also remember that you were an engaged yet courteous person, which can’t hurt your cause.)

Equally important: Oversharing could hurt your negotiating power.

Be careful about what information you share with the agent hosting the event. This person works for the seller — not you. The host can and will use stats they’ve gleaned about you to counter, reject, or accept an offer.

Keeping that in mind, here are eight questions you can ask a host to help determine whether a house is a good fit for you:

    1. Have you received any offers? If there are already bids on the table, you’ll have to move quickly if you want to make an offer. Keep in mind: Listing agents can’t disclose the amount of any other offers, though — only whether they exist.
    2. When does the seller want to move? Find out the seller’s timeline. If the seller is in a hurry (say, for a new job), they may be willing to accept an offer that’s below list price.
    3. When is the seller looking to close? Price isn’t the only factor for many home sellers. One way to strengthen your offer is to propose a settlement date that’s ideal for them. For example, a 30- to 45-day closing is standard in many markets, but the seller may want more time if they haven’t purchased their next home yet.
    4. Is the seller flexible on price? Most listing agents won’t tip their hand when you ask this question, but there’s always a chance the agent says “yes.” And, in some instances, the seller has authorized their agent to tell interested buyers that the price is negotiable. In any case, you might as well ask. (It’s kind of like googling for a coupon code when you buy something online.)
    5. How many days has the home been on the market? You can find this information on the internet, but the seller’s agent can give you context, especially if the house has been sitting on the market for a while. Maybe the home was under contract but the buyer’s financing fell through, or the seller overshot the listing price and had to make a price reduction? Knowing the backstory can only help you.
    6. Has the price changed? You can see if there’s been a price reduction online, but talking to the listing agent is the only way to find out why the seller dropped the price.
    7. Are there any issues? Have there been any renovations or recent repairs made to the home? Some upgrades, like new kitchen appliances, are easy to spot, but some are harder to identify. Specifically ask about the roof, appliances, and HVAC system because they can be expensive to repair or replace. BTW, repairs like a leaky faucet, aren’t things that need to be disclosed.
    8. What are the average utility costs? Many buyers don’t factor utility bills into their monthly housing expenses, and these costs can add up — particularly in drafty older homes. Ask the listing agent what a typical monthly utility bill is during the summer and during the winter, since heating and cooling costs can fluctuate seasonally. Be prepared for higher utility bills if you’re moving from an apartment to a single-family home.

Now that you’ve got your answers, there’s one last thing to do: Thank the host before you go. You never know — you could be seeing them again at the negotiating table soon.

Top 11 Reasons to Have a Facebook Business Page

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*from idxcentral.com

Looking for another excellent resource to promote your personal brand? A Facebook business page can be a highly effective marketing tool, and if you are like most people, you probably already have a personal account and are fairly versed already. As of spring 2017, there were over 1.86 billion monthly active Facebook users with five new Facebook profiles being created every second. We encourage all real estate agents to create a business page that is separate from their personal Facebook account. Creating a Facebook business page is a great way to reach a bigger audience. Furthermore, it has the great potential of attracting new clients, it is easy to maintain, and it may be just the thing you are looking for to generate more traffic to your real estate website. Most importantly, it just plain makes sense when Facebook is the most popular social network worldwide.

Top 11 Reasons to have a Facebook Business Page:

  1. It allows you to keep things strictly professional. This narrows down your postings to information that is of specific interest to your real estate clients. You can even monitor what personal items you want people to see (if any).
  2. It shows people you are current, social and appreciate the value of being social online. A great tip is to learn how to use hashtags on Facebook to widen your marketing reach.
  3. Drive more traffic to your website! Your Facebook account will drive traffic to your website.
  4. It’s a FREE way to promote your business. Get creative!
  5. It promotes your personal brand. Upload your professional photo as the cover photo and place your logo in the banner area. If you don’t have a logo, you can use the space to showcase a gorgeous landscape from your real estate area. Be sure to link to your real estate website or your agent profile so they can learn more.
  6. It shows you as an expert in the real estate field. All you have to do is post about topics or questions people often ask you and link to your own site or other sites that might resolve those questions.
  7. It is a great marketing tool. Use your business page to promote your experience, your listings, sold listings, your awards and accolades, etc.
  8. It promotes your website. Invite your Facebook fans to visit your real estate website or blog to look at the hottest listings, read relevant articles, visit the buyers and seller sections, neighborhood profiles, check out local information, and more. Find creative ways to drive Facebook visitors towards your site so they start using it.
  9. It is a great place to directly interact with clients and target a specific audience.
  10. It is a good place to “poll your audience” or ask for opinions to generate discussion. You can even add a discussion tab to your page to answer any questions visitors might have.
  11. Use your Facebook page to run a contest. “Like Us” and be entered to win a dinner on us or gift card to a local shop or service company. Use this avenue to generate buzz around your Facebook page and direct traffic to your site.

June 1 Central Illinois Homes Guide – Available Online!

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Wendy Kolbus of RE/MAX Traders Unlimited presents this spectacular masterpiece with golf views, beautifully landscaped privacy, and casual luxury. This home has so much to offer. Link for more information and photos inside on page 7.

Also Inside:

Details about the PAAR CARES Foundation Charity Golf Outing. Please help support the community through fundraising. More details found on page 10.

May 18 Central Illinois Homes Guide – Available Online!

Laurie Pearl of Keller Williams Premier Realty presents this charming and beautiful Peoria Heights home within walking distance to the Peoria Heights shopping and dining experiences. This house features updates and much more! Link for more information and photos inside on page 7.

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Get the exclusive look at the May 18, 2018 Interactive Central Illinois Homes Guide Online before it hits stands on Friday! You can also share it on your social media universe! View here!

May 4 Central IL Homes Guide – Available ONLINE!

Check out the May 4 Central Illinois Homes Guide before it hits stands this Friday!

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Top Real Estate Hashtags for Social Media

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Why are hashtags important? 

*From SEOPerson.net
The term hashtag has entered the general lexicon, and is a very popular way to promote a service or product. People search using hashtags on websites such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and they can be an effective way for people to search for content which is specific to their original query.

Hashtags can also be a powerful research tool and enable website developers interested in search engine optimization to see what is trending and making waves on social networking websites.

The importance of hashtags in promoting an event

Hashtags can also be effectively used to promote an event for business purposes and allow website owners to garner a new customer base. Hashtags should be short and contain natural keywords and phrases in order to improve their visibility in search engine rankings. It’s also useful to create a short but pithy phrase which will catch on and hopefully trend, whilst promoting the services of a company at the same time.

The PAAR Marketing Center has compiled a list of some of the most popular and effective real estate hashtags to use in your social media endeavors!

  1. #realestate
  2. #realtor
  3. #justlisted
  4. #broker
  5. #forsale
  6. #homesale
  7. #newhome
  8. #househunting
  9. #dreamhome
  10. #properties
  11. #milliondollarlisting
  12. #oldhousecharm
  13. #home
  14. #listing
  15. #homesforsale
  16. #property
  17. #investment
  18. #housing
  19. #mortgage
  20. #homesforsale
  21. #openhouse
  22. #homeinspection
  23. #creditreport
  24. #cashcow
  25. #creditscore
  26. #homesweethome
  27. #thereisnoplacelikehome
  28. #shortsale
  29. #emptynest
  30. #renovated
  31. #justlisted
  32. #citylife
  33. #countrylife
  34. #fixandflip
  35. #brokeragename
  36. #officeorteamname
  37. #wanttomove
  38. #localschooldistrict
  39. #realestatelife
  40. #realtors
  41. #getlistings
  42. #homesales
  43. #housesales
  44. #mortgage
  45. #realestatetricks
  46. #sold
  47. #buying
  48. #selling
  49. #standout
  50. #luxuryliving
  51. #househunt
  52. #agents
  53. #homesearch
  54. #renovation
  55. #realestateexperts
  56. #beautifulhomes
  57. #condolife
  58. #modernhouses
  59. #townhomes
  60. #curbappeal
  61. #realestatetips
  62. #realestateteam
  63. #realestatetraining
  64. #realestategoals
  65. #justsoldit
  66. #pool
  67. #yard
  68. #instahome
  69. #modelhome
  70. #landscape
  71. #besthouse
  72. #megahome
  73. #development
  74. #houseportrait
  75. #communitydevelopment