Achieving Curb Appeal with the Wow Factor

Lovely curb appeal in this North Barrington home listed by Ron Sever

Lovely curb appeal in this North Barrington home listed by Ron Sever

When it comes to selling your home, you always want it to stand apart from the competition. This is why the wow factor is so important in today’s market. The outside of your home is the first thing gives visitors an impression of what may be inside. If it fails to inspire from the outset, they may not even come to see the inside.

Typical tasks for increased curb appeal include: tidying the landscaping, removing dirt from the walkway and driveway, mowing the lawn and cleaning the windows. Going beyond these basics and dressing up your home with a few key accessories will give it the wow factor that will attract potential buyers to your property.

Modern House Numbers by Los Angeles Kitchen and Bath Fixtures Atlas Homewares

1. Add big, bold house numbers. It’s easy to swap out house numbers, and this one thing can make a huge impact. Echo your house style in the numbers you choose — a clean sans serif font for a modern house, hand-painted tiles for a cottage, or aged copper for a Prairie-style home.

Modern Exterior by Cambridge Architects & Designers LDa Architecture & Interiors

2. The front door makes a statement. Paint your door a fresh color to evoke the flavor of the home: green creates energy; red is inviting and draws the eye; black is elegant and dramatic; and orange is invigorating. Plus, add a door knocker. Gorgeous hardware and a new paint job can make even the plainest door welcoming.

Traditional Porch by Atlanta Architects & Designers Stephen Fuller Designs

3. Simple porch furniture entices you to visit and take a seat. A pair of matching rockers, Adirondack chairs or a cozy glider is a must when you have a front porch that is visible from the street. Having seating on your porch gives a friendly feel to your space.

Traditional Exterior by Rhinebeck Interior Designers & Decorators Mari Kirwood Design Associates

4. Planters and flowers give you color.  A window box full of bright red flowers livens up neutral exteriors. Or, add a few new pots with colorful flowers on either side of the door. Just like a beautiful necklace can make an entire outfit shine, striking flowers can give your home that final perfect touch.

5. Lighting can be the icing on the cake. Updating your current lighting fixture or adding a few solar lights along the pathway, or as an accent, will show potential buyers you have gone that extra step to create a unique place they can call home.

Translating the Language of Real Estate

Guest blogger: Matt Dobbe, Regional Marketing Coordinator, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage – Wisconsin Region

Funny bubble of real estate abbreviations

As someone new to the real estate industry, I’ve learned that buying a home is more than just bed and bath counts. It’s waterfront property, big yards, BICCs and a friendly neighborhood. It’s FSBOs, REOs and contracts and paperwork…A lot of paperwork.

It probably shouldn’t have surprised me, but I didn’t realize how much had to be signed, approved and permitted when buying or selling a home. I also didn’t know that all real estate agents were fluent in more than one language: The Language of Real Estate. The Language of Real Estate consists largely of acronyms and abbreviations and if you happen to be one who’s not fluent in Real Estate, deciphering what a certain acronym or term may mean can make it seem like you’re trying to crack a decades long real estate code; similar to Tom Hanks in The Da Vinci Code.

It took me a while to learn that FSBO meant ‘For Sale By Owner’ and that a short sale is a sale in which the sale price of a home will not cover the outstanding debt on it. Although I’m certainly not a master in the Language of Real Estate, I’m proud to say that I’ve been able to crack the Real Estate Code (without ever calling Tom Hanks).


If you’re like me, you feel a sense of accomplishment after you learn a new language. You feel how rewarding it can be to navigate yourself through a foreign land. If you’re an agent, helping a customer find the home of their dreams is even more rewarding. The smile on their face when they’ve finally signed all the paperwork, dotted the ‘i’s, crossed the ‘t’s and moved into their dream home…That’s the same in every language.

Here’s a link to our Glossary of Terms help in your translation. 

10 Interesting Facts About the Housing Market

Guest blogger: Dick Greenwood, Director, Builder Marketing

Buying Vs Selling Two-Way Street Sign

  1. At today’s prices and rents, buying would be cheaper than renting until the 30-year fixed rate mortgage reaches 10.5%. (Source: Trulia)
  2. Even at a 5% fixed rate, buying would be 34% cheaper than renting. (Source:Trulia)
  3. Prices have increased so much that homeowners with negative equity have fallen to less than 20% of all borrowers. (Source: Bloomberg)
  4. “Flash sales” are happening in the Chicagoland market. Flash sales are when a home is sold within 24 hours of listing. This is because of the use of technology, especially instant mobile alerts for new listings. Gone forever are the days of waiting two weeks for the 10 pound “MLS” book to be printed. (Source: Wall Street Journal)
  5. Buyer competition is so stiff that in some markets we are seeing a quarter of the sales going for more than asking price! (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
  6. Dick GreenwoodNationally this spring home prices rose to the highest annual growth rate in seven years according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index. (Source: Case-Shiller Index)
  7. Demand among homebuyers is so high in some parts of the country that builders are holding lotteries to decide who gets to purchase homes in their developments. (Source: CNN Money)
  8. In this market, both buyers and sellers are winners. Sellers love the rising home prices and affordability remains high due to low interest rates for buyers. (Source: WSJ Market Watch)
  9. As the market is improving, REOs and short sales have been a significantly smaller part of the business. Nevada had one of the highest rates of foreclosures. Not any more. 90% of all currently available homes are non-distressed traditional homes with equity. (Source: RISMedia)
  10. In a Bloomberg poll, 71% of Bloomberg customers say the recent home price increase in major U.S. markets is evidence of a genuine recovery in values. (Source: Bloomberg)

Blackhawks Party at Home Ideas

Guest blogger: Alicia Eisenbise, Social Media Specialist (and Blackhawks fan)

Alicia EisenbiseIf you’re a Blackhawks fan, like I am, then you’re probably pretty excited about watching the Stanley Cup games.  It seems like it’s all people are talking, tweeting and posting about around Chicagoland. The good news is, if you’re planning a party, then we’ve done half the work for you. Here are some ideas for your own Stanley Cup party. Check out our Pinterest board for even more party ideas.

Blackhawks décor. First of all, get up and leave right now for the party store (or after you’re done reading this) because everything red and black will probably be sold out before the final game.  There’s lots of party décor options with the logo or you could just use black and red streamers and balloons. If you’re feeling crafty, you can even make your own Stanley Cup. And don’t forget to dress yourself and your furry friends up in a lucky jersey or hat. Ladies, you can even paint your nails to show your team spirit!

Chicago-style food. We are a city that knows how to eat good food, just usually not good-for-you food. So, let’s keep the tradition and make (or buy) some yummy Chicago-style food. Some menu items could include the traditional Chicago-style Hot Dog (ketchup need not apply), Deep Dish Pizza Dip (a twist on an old favorite) and/or Italian Beef Sandwiches (don’t forget the hot peppers)! For dessert, grab a tin of Blackhawks Garret Popcorn, it’s dangerously good. Or I also loved this hockey puck cake idea. It’s both simple and fun!

Drinks. Here is the perfect place to keep it simple. Grab yourself some Chicago beer, like Goose Island’s 312, or pick up some Bud Light, the official beer of the Chicago Blackhawks. Stock up on plenty of pop (that’s what Chicagoans call soda), lemonade and water. And of course, drink responsibly.

A little fun – playoff beard competition. Hockey is known for a lot of things: missing teeth, Zambonis, thick Canadian accents and playoff beards. Whether you love them or hate them, there are a lot of them walking around and some may be at your party. So why not make it a competition? Make categories like: best playoff beard, worst playoff beard, most patchy playoff beard, looks most like Duncan Keith, etc. Then have everyone write down their vote for each category and announce the winners during intermission.

When planning a Stanley Cup party, the most important thing (besides a Blackhawks win) is that everyone has a good time. Let’s all cheer on the Blackhawks and hear those sirens scream.

If you’re looking for some more Pinspiration for your Stanley Cup party, check out our Pinterest board.
Get some ideas for the stanley cup

Great News from Harbor Country

Communication from the President Fran Broude

Fran Broude, President, COO, Managing Broker, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

As you may have seen here, we recently had a $5.2 million sale in the Harbor Country market in Lakeside, Michigan. The 5.3 acre Longacres estate, with 195 feet of private beach, is the highest home sale in the area since 2005 and the third largest sale in over fourteen years!  What makes this even better is that both sides were represented by our very own New Buffalo office Previews Property Specialists, Donna Iwamoto and Karen Strohl.

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As a result of this sale, our luxury market share (properties over $750,000 in Harbor Country) is at nearly 66 percent through the start of this year, which far exceeds the 12 percent market share from 2012 and is nearly ten times more than our nearest competitor. Year to date, Coldwell Banker Previews has participated in 16 of the 28 luxury property sales in Harbor Country!  Even more amazingly, Donna and Karen have participated in 11 of those 16 sales.

The market in New Buffalo, which is not only luxury properties, has exploded this year with the sale of many other vacation homes for residents from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. I’ve heard many great stories all across our company about the positive real estate environment we have enjoyed through the first half of 2013 and all of them come back to the excellent customer service and expertise our Coldwell Banker agents provide their clients. Thank you for all you do every day in representing our amazing Coldwell Banker brand.

View Magazine Summer Release

A letter from the President
A Letter From The President

Fran Broude, President and COO Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Click here to see the View Summer 2013 

I am happy to report that the spring real estate season is in full bloom! We are off to a strong start with the market showing signs of life and significant improvement that we haven’t seen in years. According to our multiple listing service, in the first quarter of 2013 the number of closed home sales was up 24% compared to the same time last year. Another notable finding is that the average market time is currently 137 days, down 22% from 2012. There are many factors that are feverishly driving the market recovery, but at the same time inventory levels continue to fall to record breaking low levels. The multiple listing service also reported that by the end of March new listings in Chicagoland were down 3.2% and the number of homes for sale fell to a 2.8 month supply, down 58% from last year. This trend combined with a surplus of potential buyers is creating a sense of urgency. Now more than ever, both buyers and sellers need a proven real estate company with experienced real estate agents who they can rely on to negotiate the best possible price for their home and who can best advise how to handle a multiple offer situation.

This in conjunction with Coldwell Banker’s innovative technology makes our clients positioned to succeed in today’s fast paced market. Providing the most successful experience possible for our clients is what we strive for by continually developing our online tools. One example is HomeBase, our proprietary system that provides secure, 24/7 access to transaction-related communication and documentation without all the paper! HomeBase Inbox helps you stay organized in your home search process with tools that make it easy to find, review and maintain a record of the properties that interest you. And HomeBase Intouch ensures that online inquiries reach our agents immediately so they can respond to a potential buyer quickly. Let the search begin by taking a look at this issue of the View and by visiting

Create the ultimate “Man Cave” for Father’s Day

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Father’s Day is the perfect excuse for the man of the house to start a home project that focuses solely on him – the “man cave.” Let’s face it, the deal-breaking elements in a house are often geared towards the woman, like the walk in closets, immaculate kitchens and spa worthy bathrooms, but men need playrooms too! Whether it’s a den transformed in to a sports haven, a basement turned pub for poker nights or maybe even a basketball court in the back yard, there are unlimited possibilities when it comes to adding some testosterone to your home. Here are some key factors to consider while planning your “man cave” makeover.

Focus on a theme
First determine a theme based on your personality and interests. Are you a sports fanatic? A car enthusiast? An avid memorabilia collector? Or maybe a cigar aficionado? Next, identify one element that is a must-have for your space, like a pool table, bar, or a theatre size flat screen, and then build the rest of the room around that object. 

Make it multi-functional
Why not kill two birds with one stone? Make the most of your new space by organizing your personal items, trophies, or memorabilia that have been taking up space in storage. Take advantage of the many attractive and functional options that are available in shelving and wall units to display your most prized possessions.

Don’t skimp on style
Get creative and think outside the box. Every detail counts down to the paint color, wall art, furniture, and the flooring. Keep it clutter free, simple and sophisticated no matter what your theme is so that you can lounge in style.

Check out some of our favorite man caves currently on the market:

2015 North Racine Avenue, Chicago, ILWho said a cave had to be indoors? This Lincoln Park home has a private outdoor basketball court. It is currently for sale, listed by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage agent Jennifer Ames for $2,699,000.


This River North home has everything you could ever dream of. One of the most unique features is the bar with a full lounge seating area. The house is for sale for $4,195,000, listed by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage agent Kip Karl.

40 yard line carpet in man cave

The lower level in this Riverwoods home is the ultimate man cave for a sports enthusiast, right down to the football field floor in the game room!  Other man-worthy features include a tennis court, theatre room and bar.  The home is currently for sale for $2,625,000, listed by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage agent Lori Progar.

man cave 2087 Sheridan Rd Buffalo Grove IL

The entire lower level in this Buffalo Grove home on Sheridan Roadin an ultimate man cave! Between the game room, full bar, and theatre room there are so many options for the man of the house. The home is currently for sale for $779,000, listed by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage agent Judy Greenberg.

For more information, please visit

Winning the Cup Starts at Home

Chris_HaranGuest blogger: Chris Haran, Director of Strategic Planning and Initiatives (& Blackhawks fan)

Tonight, the Chicago Blackhawks take the final steps towards hockey’s ultimate goal:  the Stanley Cup. The Blackhawks are back after a victorious 2010 campaign, and they match up against the Boston Bruins, who won it the year after Chicago. As true fans of the Hawks know, times weren’t always this great. It has been only a few short years since the miraculous turnaround in not only the success on the ice, but the success off as well.

Coldwell Banker Ad Campaign Blackhawks Minnesota-GAME20130503a-0783[1]

There is a lot that went into turning around the fortunes of this great team, but at its core was knowing how to treat the customers of the brand. It was an understanding and appreciation for the history of the franchise, as well as recognizing the expectations for greatness that Chicago has as a hockey town. Every action, strategy and decision always came back to “One Goal”. There’s a lot to be admired in such a shared sense of purpose by any organization, but especially when it is best represented by our hometown heroes.

2010 was also the first year that Coldwell Banker partnered with the Chicago Blackhawks as a sponsor. It was the second time we partnered with a sports team that won it all that year, as our partnership with the White Sox began in 2005 (Bears and Bulls…take note and call us). I’d like to say that we knew all along…and I think I will. Good luck to the Hawks, and hope we are listening to this song tonight…a lot.

A Dad’s Retrospective On Father’s Day

Guest Blogger: Derek Light, Manager, E-Marketing (& Dad)

Derek Light

Hello again everyone, it’s been a little while. I wrestled with this post, should it be serious and introspective? Just kidding, I didn’t wrestle with that all. If you want some introspection and meaning you want to bark up another tree. Maybe when the kids are older I’ll write that post, I’m just trying to keep my head above water.

As an Ode to Chris Haran, I’ll say that I have almost 14 years of parenting experience! London will be six and the twins, Brinkley and Ainsley, will be four in the fall, so I’ve crawled out of the diaper stage and they’ve half started to listen. Maybe listening wouldn’t be an issue if they’d stop talking for five seconds.

Being a dad has always reminded me of my (very mediocre) golf game; there’s a lot of grinding but there are those beautiful shots that keep you coming back. That’s parenting, for all the cute pictures and unsolicited kisses there is a lot of grinding. It’s not that you don’t love them all the time but there’s a lot of labor to go with it.

That said these are some beautiful shots from the past year (for those of you that follow me on Twitter you know I’m a huge soccer and Redskins fan):

London Paige: ‘Dad will you be my soccer coach?’ I was shocked; I didn’t think she even liked soccer. After somehow clearing the AYSO background check, I’m an amoeba soccer coach. I can only tell you the best part of being a coach are the parents, yikes.

Brinkley James: I’ve got the kids in Costco; the girls are in the seats because they love their father, Brinkley is in the basket because he’s more concerned about what else is going on. Brinkley stands up, points to guy wearing a Cowboys hat and starts singing Hail to the Redskins, he even knows the second verse. That’s some good parenting. I wish I would have been faster with the camera but I was enjoying the moment.

Ainsley Grace: One of the bigger ironies in my life is Ainsley’s middle name being Grace. That kid would trip over lines on a basketball court. After practicing for over six months she did her little ballet routine without falling, she was so excited. If you’re a parent you know that when your kid is that excited about something, you are too.

Maybe I’ll have some advice next year, until then, have a great Father’s Day!

— Derek

Tips for Selling with Video & Apps to Say Thank You


Tips for Selling Real Estate with Video

According to the National Association of Realtors, in 2012 only 4% of real estate agents post videos to sites like YouTube, but about 90% of buyers use the internet to search for homes. Is there potential for growth? Absolutely. Here are some tips to make video work for you:

  1. No shaky hands. We suggest either hiring a professional or doing your very best to make it look and sound professional.
  2. Announce in the video who you are, what you specialize in and the property address. People may stumble upon your video and if you don’t tell them this information, then who will?
  3. Keep it short. Don’t walk them through the entire house, just highlight the key selling features.
  4. Stage the home. Make sure every room you are taping is clean, tidy and staged. Also, review the video before you leave and redo portions that may not work.
  5. Make sure to film in the best possible lighting. Late afternoon sunlight is usually softer and more forgiving.
  6. A great title and description are key. When you upload to YouTube, it will ask you to give it a Title and Description. Be sure to use descriptive words, the address and don’t forget a link to the listing!
  7. Use social media! After you upload your amazing video, don’t forget to send it via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, your blog or any other social media channels you use.

Other great ways to integrate video into your marketing are creating an agent profile, recording testimonials and short videos about your community. Video is the wave of the future. Ride it!

Apps to Say “Thank You”

Saying “thank you” with a personalized card can make the right impression with a new or previous client. Imagine taking a snapshot of the new homeowners and then immediately sending a custom card. It’s something they’ll keep and you’ll be remembered. Here are some apps that make it easy:

Ink Cards: Personalized Photo Cards Sent in the Mail
Simply upload your photos, type a message and your client will receive a personalized card by you in the mail!

Red Stamp Cards
Send personalized photo cards or event invitations via e-mail, text, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or paper mail.

Cards: Beautiful Letterpress Cards
Take a quick snapshot and after a few taps and swipes an elegant personalized letterpress card is on its way to your client.

Storyboarder Postcard Collage
Create a collage postcard from multiple images, layout on a template and choose to email or mail your postcard.

Social Media Stats

Download the Social Media Digest PDF – Click Here