7 Year Workiversary Present = it’s HUGE!

Forget the flowers, cards, fancy dinner at The Perfect Caper or an elegantly engraved milestone paperweight from Tiffany’s this year for the 7th Workiversary (ok, maybe Tiffany’s crystal golf ball would be fun)! This year, we start off year 8 with blessings and opportunities. With a team of 40+, rich with culture and diversity communicating with our future clients in 15 different languages. With a dear friend we met at Gen Blue in New York turned amazing team leader who launched her career at a young age out of survival-mode then built an empire while having a newborn then being diagnosed and BEATING cancer.

These past 7 years were any but an itch, we’ve considered it ALL joy – but the transition into year 8 starts the next level of the legacy. It’s our pleasure to introduce to you: Houseman & Co. – a division of the Griffin Group with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate!

Miami #SquadGoals: Coldwell Banker’s 2016 Social Squad!

It’s officially official. Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC has announced another lineup of stellar [social] peeps to represent the entire Coldwell Banker brand for the 2016 Generation Blue Experience [aka #GenBlue] for this year’s hottest location yet… Miami, Florida!

Personally, I’m beyond humbled to be asked to return to the ‘Squad for the 4th year in a row, as this socially savvy group is compiled of some of the most brilliant social media personalities in the industry.

This year’s line-up:

Taylor Corey:                  @taycorey
Andrea Geller:                @AndreaGeller 
George L. Rosario:        @BIG_George_NYC
Sunny Lake:                    @bhamsunny
Kim V. Colaprete:         @seattledivas
Chavi M. Hohm:           @chaviH
Heather M. Ostrom:    @RosevilleRockLn
Sharon Steele:               @sharonsteelenj
Sean Carpenter:           @SeanCarp
Ashley Houseman:      @brokerEXCLUSIVE
Audrey Maine:              @audrey_maine
Linda Aaron:                 @skynnard
Melissa Mummery:     @melissa_mummery


I guess that means it’s time to hit Elite Fitness with Trainer Carrie [most patient trainer EVER] in between tweets and it’s now socially acceptable to buy that “Squad Goals” shirt I’ve been eyeing at Target. Forget “fetch”, thanks for making “squad goals” happen, Alexandra!

2016 Gen Blue Social Squad (1)

“Hot Trends” on NAR’s RE Today Radio! [according to the Housemans]

How to flatter a Realtor beyond measure? Ask them to be a guest on the National Association of Realtors radio station, Real Estate Today, for their insight on selling a home to millennials in today’s market – for a third time.

Translation: my Realtor Mothership likes me enough [and apparently their listeners too?] to come back on the air to give advice to all the sellers in the world through their broadcast. It’s basically like Christmas, my birthday, winning a partial ticket in the lottery [if I ever played] and having the ability to eat Girl Scout Thin Mints year-round bundled into one, big happy emotion.

Listen to the broadcast (it’s short, I’m not boring but I do say “absolutely” a lot, sorry)

Don’t have time to listen but like to read? Here’s my synopsis (or rather the script with my scribbles):

Real Estate Today:  On today’s show – ‘Hot Trends,’ we’re looking at what’s happening in the American Home. How it looks, how it’s equipped and also – how to reel in the home buyers – if THIS is the year you plan to sell. It’s no secret that many buyers – especially younger buyers – like a home they can move right into. And one that has all the features they want. Present a house like that – and you have a much better chance of selling in the minimum time for the maximum profit!

So let’s talk about exactly what those younger buyers want in today’s market. Joining us now is Ashley Houseman, Realtor and Associate Broker with the Houseman Team, at Coldwell Banker Sunstar Realty – in Port Charlotte, Florida. Ashley’s also a member of NAR’s Young Professionals Network. Ashley how are you today?
Ashley: Awesometastic! I didn’t really say that, but I thought it. It seemed silly to write this out!

RE Today:   Ashley, first of all, how’s business down on the West Coast of Florida?
Ashley: Business is busy! Probably one of our favorite times of the year, spring break through summer… we feel it’s one of our busiest times because snowbirds are ending their season and ready to buy for next season and families are gearing up to buy so they can move on summer break. We’re ready for them!

RE Today: So Ashley – as we all know, the Millennial generation is the biggest demographic group in America – what are they looking for when they buy homes, and how can a seller give it to them?
: Millennials are looking for value and a great home for the price. We’re realistic that this demographic is searching online looking at hundreds of homes before they ever call a Realtor. They’re comparing prices. Neighborhoods. Getting a good idea of what type of home they can get for their money. Keeping this in mind when we’re listing our homes, we educate the seller on a few key things that will help them stand out among these hundreds of homes buyers are sifting through – presentation – it’s all about the pictures. We educate our sellers on how to stage their home and prepare it for photos and showings so that when we take our professional photographs, we stand out amongst the other comparable homes that we’re up against in their listing range – which in turn gets us more activity online, more showings and hopefully an offer sooner! 

RE Today:  Our Millennial friends say they like homes that are ready to go – not interested in months of repairs, and fix-ups. Sounds like a seller would do well to make their house is in really good repair before going on the market.

With that in mind – have any of your clients actually had a home inspection – on their own dime – before putting their home on the market? So that when buyers come around – it’s kind of ‘perfect?’
Ashley: When discussing preparing a home to hit the market, sometimes sellers will ask our opinion on whether or not we feel that they should get their own home inspection in order to show a buyer what issues there are with the property. We always recommend against this, since many homes in our market are sold “as is” and the buyer will likely conduct their own home inspection within their inspection contingency period, which is typically 15 days in Florida unless negotiated otherwise. Instead, we recommend our sellers complete a sellers disclosure which we include in the MLS as an attachment, which is a series of questions completed by the homeowner to the best of their knowledge and serves as an overview of the home (plumbing, roof, deed restrictions, etc). We get this upfront when we list the home, as it shows the buyer transparency and that the seller is not trying to hide anything from the buyer. As a buyer, always ask your agent to as the listing agent for a copy of the sellers disclosure when they are considering making an offer on the property. 

RE Today: How about energy efficiency? Does that come up on a Millennial buyer’s shopping list?
Ashley: This year, Coldwell Banker was a co-sponsor for the Smart Home Showcase at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. Prior to the show, they conducted a survey interviewing over 4,000 adults in the United States testing their knowledge on smart homes. When they were asked what they thought would consider a home to be “smart”, the top choices were security (such as locks and alarm systems), temperature (thermostats and fans), lighting (bulbs and lighting systems) and safety (night lights, fire and carbon monoxide detectors). “smart” home technology has come a long away and have found ways to create homes more energy efficient which is becoming more and more desirable to today’s buyer

HOT NOTES* (Courtesy of Coldwell Banker’s Blue Matter Blog):
Can smart home technology help you sell your home faster?

  • More than half of homeowners (54 percent) would purchase or install smart home products if they were selling their home and knew that doing so would make it sell faster.

Most Americans think a home can be considered “smart” if it has smart security, temperature, lighting and safety.

  • When asked about what needs to be in a home for it to be considered “smart,” the top choices were security (e.g., locks and alarm systems – 63 percent), temperature (e.g., thermostats and fans – 63 percent), lighting (e.g., light bulbs and lighting systems – 58 percent) and safety (e.g., fire / carbon monoxide detectors and nightlights – 56 percent).

    *shoutout to Tori Keichinger! Great article, friend! 

RE Today: And how can a seller help attract the energy-conscious buyer? Is showing the buyer the utility bills a help – or not?
Ashley: We always try to avoid asking for bills for our buyer or providing bills for a potential buyer for this main reason – just as every home is different in its construction and how it will handle heating and cooling – every buyer is different on how much or how little they use energy or utilities. Growing up, I remember as a little kid that if my dad heard an exterior door open and wasn’t shut within a few seconds, he’d exclaim “shut the door, I’m not paying to air condition the whole neighborhood!” As a kid, that seemed so silly to me… but now as an adult and momma of 3 young boys, my dad’s words echo in my thoughts and make me chuckle, as his words were so true when you’re being conscious about your heating and cooling bills – especially in the middle of our Florida summers! Every customer is going to be very different on how they utilize and conserve their water and utilities so asking for someone else’s bills could really skew your view on considering a property if your habits are different from the current homeowners’

RE Today:  And how about internet? Most places have broadband now – but many people – not just young people – require blazing fast internet. Can that help a seller, who could use that as a marketing element?
Ashley: How do people live without internet? Under our roof we have 2 adults with phones, iPads and computers, 2 toddlers running around tablets, and an AppleTV all streaming on our home network!! I guess you could say that internet – fast internet – is very important in our house! Our market can be very limiting on the service provider and type of service that as available to you, as some providers are heavily prevalent in some neighborhoods while absent in others. When selling our first home and buying our second 20 minutes north, we were unable to transfer our internet/television/phone service provider as they had not yet reached our new neighborhood yet. Our recommendation to buyers is if there is a specific provider or type of internet service you require as part of your new home selection process, be sure to check with your preferred provider to make sure that your prospective new home is within their coverage area prior to making an offer!

RE Today: Speaking of marketing, what about social media? That’s probably the hottest of all the hot trends out there. How can a seller and their Realtor use social media to help attract buyers?
Ashley: You have to be careful how you use social media to advertise your listings, as it can either excite your audience or totally turn them off. Try and deviate away from what all the other agents are doing in your market such as simply just posting the MLS link or posts for an open house. Make it fun, interesting, create some excitement with your post. Make sure your agent is using good grammar, correct spelling and truly highlighting the selling features of your home and do it with photos – good and attractive photos – that will lure your target audience into wanting to learn more and hopefully bring you the perfect buyer.

Ashley Houseman, Realtor and Associate Broker with the Houseman Team, at Coldwell Banker Sunstar Realty – in Port Charlotte, Florida. And, a member of NAR’s Young Professionals Network. Ashley – thanks for joining us today!

(thank you for having me again, Stephen Gasque and the RE Today Team!! Next time you’re in Florida, a charter should be be on the agenda!)

Gen Blue + “New Life” = Your Business


         Alexander “Xander” Jacob, a Gen Blue inspired “Minion” with his “True Blue” parents,               John & Ashley Houseman, at only 20 hours old. (Photos by Kristina Stotlzfus Photography 2015)

This is truly one of the most special blog posts I’ll ever have the opportunity to write. Not because its content is made up of some profound wisdom or tips and tricks of our trade, but because this post was premeditated while this beautiful baby, Alexander “Xander” Jacob (whom we refer to as our Minion, in which I’ll get to in just a moment), was being knitted together in my womb. I had 9 months to think about this post and how the birth of this beautiful boy not only has so many parallels within our business life, he is a direct result of Coldwell Banker Generation Blue in Hollywood last October.

Literally. Think about that for a moment without me giving you the talk about “the birds and the bees”…

Last year’s Gen Blue was the 2nd one for the books for my husband John and I, as we also attended the one in NYC in 2013 (a-maz-ing). As parents of then 2 children, and like many of of other Gen Blue’ers, this is what we’ve been using as our annual excuse for a “vacation”. Yes, we attended sessions, met some fantastic people within the Coldwell Banker world, and we’ve managed to sneak in a day or two to explore, see the sights, and simply just get away from life from home for a brief moment. (If you’re anything like us, you looked up the Cubs schedule before your flight. You know who you are!) What we weren’t expecting, was life. New life, and adding new life to our business.

You’re thinking, “‘adding new life to your business?’ What does that mean and how could that benefit me?”. It’s simple. Gen Blue (as it did for us) will exceed your expectations on so many levels, you will have SO many takeaways, ideas, new connections, that you have NO choice but to utilize them to help to help you grow, strengthen and/or revitalize your business for the better – you’ll be adding new life – a breath of fresh air to your business.

My husband came to Hollywood as a “referring agent”, my travel companion and eye candy while we toured the California coast. He left the west coast as my business partner, master of CMA’s and my buyers agent extraordinaire. Something happened at Gen Blue for us, our business and our family. Here’s just a few of too many things to list that changed the way we do business because of attending the Generation Blue Experience.

Manager & Broker Sessions
So, my first session sounded really awesome but ended up being directed specifically towards Managers and Brokers – neither of which I am. Rather than leaving, I stuck around to see what Matthew Ferrara had to say and let me tell you, I WISH my broker (sorry, Don! Glad you ARE coming this year!) would’ve been in attendance. Although I’m used to the wildly awesome Prezi presentations that Matthew usually gives, this was so information packed towards managers and brokers bringing in new blood, structuring their business, and other manager-y things to make them successful, I was wondering WHY this wasn’t a packed house?! If you’re a broker or manager, there’s some knowledge to be had at Gen Blue tailored just for YOU!

Agent Sessions: Marketing, Organization, Social Media & Team-Building
Ooh, my! If I could name every speaker and panel that we attended at Gen Blue, you’d be tuning me out, because I could write a book on what I learned in 3 days! The inspiration we gained and ideas we came away with literally changed our life. Between listening to Jessica Edwards, Chavi Holm (Team Diva) and Danny Hertzberg (The Jills) talk about team building to hearing some cutting edge marketing tips in other sessions, we were so on fire to restructure and build our business that making this career change for my husband never would’ve been a reality had we not made the trek to Hollywood.

The General Session
Last year we took over Dolby Theatre (you know, where they host the Academy Awards?) and Gen Blue kicked off with some crazy pumped up action by some of our fearless leaders (Budge, Mike and Sean), an American Idol-esque rendition of Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home” sang by Renee Savoy and was lead by the one (and only) ever-so-famous Jane Lynch. This year, Gen Blue is taking over The Chicago Theatre with more awesomenss from our leaders and an epic Lip Sync Battle between 3 Gen Blue’ers in attendance (still a few days to enter, click here)! I said it, epic. So much epicness in one theatre, experiencing in person is the only way to go.

The Speaker Line-up
Although the stellar speaker line-up for Chicago is still yet to be announced, let me tell you… Don’t. Miss. This. A few of the headliners last year were Tom Ferry, Zan Monroe, Matthew Ferrara and Katie Lance, plus many (many!) more. If you’ve never heard of them, Google’em. If you’ve heard the names but never looked into them, don’t wait another minute to hear their goodness. If you’ve heard of them and know of this awesomeness that I’m trying to convey, don’t fret, this year in Chicago it will be even MORE fantastic and you will learn even more than you ever have before so you need to be there!

The People
One of my favorite things about being on the Social Squad is meeting some of my other True Blues that I’ve connected with online IRL (cyber code for “in real life”). Having relationships online is fun, but there’s nothing like having the opportunity to connect with 3,000 other Coldwell Banker agents world-wide IN-person. Don’t ever underestimate the power of relationships that you build with agents from coast to coast (or even Monaco!), as you never know where your next referral may come from. Meeting other agents, managers and brokers in person also gives you the chance to share, learn, and take away some of the most amazing tips that have helped them to be successful by hearing their personal trials and experiences. The relationships you’ll create and build at Gen Blue will last you a lifetime – you can’t build if you don’t go!

The Party
I don’t know if I should compare last year’s closing party to being like “a kid in a candy store” the size of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory or the excitement of Christmas Eve x’s infinity. Coldwell Banker – I KID YOU NOT – shut down an entire theme park just for Coldwell Banker Gen Blue attendees. Yes, thousands of agents, managers and brokers alike had the time of their life at Universal Studios Hollywood riding rides, having a massive dance party with DJ MARY MAC, food and beverages galore until we closed the park down. It was pretty exclusive, True Blues only. This year, I can not WAIT to see what they do, as we are taking over Soldier Field as our final “hurrah” to the best few days of your business life in 2015.

As promised, back to the Minion (if you don’t know what that is, they just made a Minion Movie). New life. Gen Blue. Tying this baby (no pun intended) all-together. Our littlest man (we now have 3!) was born just shy of 9 months after our Gen Blue Hollywood Experience. Again, I’m not going to reiterate the talk you probably had with your parents in your teenage years, but it’s the truth. Baby “Xander” is our little Universal-Studios-Gen-Blue-Closing-Party-inspired Minion. This was the trip of a lifetime for us, as my husband went to California for vacation and came back as a member of our team. The Generation Blue Experience was just the “experience” he needed to bring our real estate business to the next level – isn’t it time for you to do the same?

Sign up your broker, your manager, your assistant, prospective team member and yourself by clicking here, you won’t regret it!