Adorable Life, Camera, Action Video Winners

Guest blogger: Alicia Eisenbise, Social Media Specialist 

WARNING: The winners of the Coldwell Banker Life, Camera, Action YouTube video contest will cause you to meet your cuteness quotient for the day!

Our national brand ran a contest called Life, Camera, Action where people could submit a video of tour of their home from the perspective of a child or pet.

The $25,000 grand prize winning video above is called “This is Home” but at the Coldwell Banker office we refer to it as “Rapping Kids.”

The winners are the Johnson family of Henderson, NV where dad, Jeff, is a schoolteacher and his wife, Suzanne, runs her own business out of their home. Their twins, Liam and Elle, will turn 4 in December and have easily the brightest music career imaginable ahead of them. They moved into their home just over 2 years ago and they plan to use the winnings to redo their backyard.

If you’d like an extra smile, then I suggest watching the video below where the adorable twins find out they’ve won the contest. All I can say is, “Mom, we got some seeds!”

5 Cool Home Gadgets for Under $300

Guest blogger: Derek Light, E-Marketing Manager

1. Unlock your home with your phone – Goji Smart Lock

Goji Smart Lock

Goji Smart Lock

Use the app to unlock your door. The Goji Smart Lock also takes pictures of who is at your door and automatically sends picture alerts to your mobile phone, providing you with real-time information about who is accessing your home. This is handy for all kinds of reasons.

Notes: Also works with traditional keys and Wi-Fi so you don’t need professional installation.

2. Why didn’t I think of this? OWC Power2U Smart Socket

OWC Power2U Smart Socket

Nothing really new about this but it’s just such a no brainer; we all have USB charging cords. Costco has a set of two for about $20, well worth it and it charges your iPad.

Notes: Simple and awesome

3. Control your thermostat from your phone – Nest Learning Thermostat – 2nd Generation

Nest Learning Thermostat - 2nd Generation

Nest Learning Thermostat – 2nd Generation

The Nest Learning Thermostat remembers the temperatures you like, turns itself down when you’re away and can be controlled from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop.

Notes: It learns and shares your temperature preferences with the NSA*.
*I can’t confirm or deny this.

4. Make your old appliances smart – WeMo Switch by Belkin

Belkin Wemo Switch

The Belkin Wi-Fi enabled WeMo Switch lets you turn electronic devices on or off from anywhere using your phone.

Notes: Sneak one of these into your neighbor’s house and have a ball.

5. Don’t get tied to your stereo – Bose® SoundLink® Bluetooth® Mobile speaker II

Bose SoundLink® Bluetooth® Mobile speaker II

Bose SoundLink® Bluetooth® Mobile speaker II

Stop having to dock your phone to stream Spotify, it’s a mobile phone right?

Take pictures; send emails and Tweet while rocking out to the new Kings of Leon. While audiophiles may scoff at Bluetooth music, the sound is solid and convenience is well worth the price.

Notes: This one is near and dear to my heart as I despise wires or physical tethering of any kind; it’s so very annoying.

See more fun home gadgets on our Pinterest board.

Emmy Nominated Shows that Showcase America’s Favorite Home

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Seeing how both Emmy nominated shows deal with politics, each also take place in one of our favorite homes in the world—the White House. While neither program actually films in Washington D.C. (Veep films in Baltimore, Maryland and Scandal is shot entirely out of Los Angeles, California) they both are able to showcase the home beautifully. Here are a couple of our favorite White House rooms featured on the shows:

Office of the Vice President

Office of the Vice President

Vice President’s Office 

The Vice President’s office, located in the West Wing of the White House is just as equally important as the Oval Office. We don’t often see photos of the room, but here is what it actually looks like! A lot of scenes from Veep take place in a replica of this office.

Oval Office

Oval Office

The Oval Office 

The Oval Office, better known as the formal office of the President is probably the most recognizable room in the White House; where all the magic happens. Here is where the President conducts most of his meetings and a lot of all-important press conferences. Washington’s character Olivia Pope also spends plenty of time in this room while she “works” with the President.

Best of luck to both nominees at this year’s Primetime Emmys! The Emmys air Sunday, September 22 on CBS at 8:00 Eastern Time. Stay tuned during program for Coldwell Banker’s “We Believe” ad! Use the hashtag #CBBelieves to get in on the conversation.

Featured photo via stannate

Originally posted on the Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog.

What Makes Winnetka Appealing to Luxury Home Buyers?

Homefinder.com just released a list of Top 10 Luxury Suburbs in the U.S. and Winnetka landed at the #4 spot.

Just what makes Winnetka so special to luxury home buyers?

“Winnetka appeals to homebuyers because it is a tight knit and family oriented community.  One of the reasons why the village has the reputation as one of the most successful communities in the nation is because it boasts one of the nation’s most notable public schools, New Trier High School.” says Maureen Mohling of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s Winnetka office. Maureen currently  has the most expensive listing in Winnetka. “There is never a shortage of things to do in Winnetka.  Not only is there access to 3 Lake Michigan beaches, but the village is also filled with great locally owned shops and restaurants.  You also can’t beat the close proximity to the city, only 19 miles north of downtown Chicago.  It’s truly the best of both worlds.” said Maureen. Some stats that make Winnetka, IL so special for luxury home buyers:

  • 78% of single family home listings are over $1 million
  • Average home price: $2.42 million
  • Average number of beds/baths: 5.5/6.1
  • Average home size: 5,864 square feet
  • Number of available listings: 103
  • Major metro area: Chicago, IL

Click here to visit Maureen’s Previews listing and see the meaning of luxury in Winnetka.

Celebrate National Cheeseburger Day

Happy National Cheeseburger Day

Guest blogger: Emily Smith, Marketing Coordinator, Regional Service Center

Emily Smith

Emily Smith

Did you know there is a food “holiday” for every day of the year? Seriously! (Click here for the list for September)  Most of these days do not get a lot of recognition, but National Cheeseburger day – now that is a day to celebrate! To help you celebrate here is a list of my favorite cheesy bites throughout our region!

  1. AJ Bombers (Milwaukee, WI) Milwaukee has many worthy contenders for top cheeseburger but I would highly recommend AJ Bombers.  They use a chuck, sirloin, brisket mix for their ¼ lb patties. You can choose from any of their already crafted burger combinations or build your own.  With a variety of cheeses to choose from and more toppings than you could imagine (bacon, fried “frickles” pickles, peanut butter) at AJ Bombers you can certainly create a cheeseburger to satisfy everyone’s taste buds.  Note *The Milwaukee Burger was also featured on Food Wars!).
  2. Hot Chocolate (Chicago, IL) Just like Milwaukee, Chicago is not lacking in great cheeseburgers. Instead of choosing to highlight an obvious choice (Kuma’s corner) I am handing the spotlight over to Hot Chocolate on Damen. I originally visited Hot Chocolate for their famous desserts – but the burger was just as outstanding. They use a blend of Heartland Meats ground in-house and although it was lean it was very juicy. They top this burger with Gunthorp Farms bacon, 4-year aged Widmer’s Wisconsin cheddar and house made pickles. You can also add a sunny side up egg to complete the burger for $2. I had the burger without the egg and fully intend to visit again, this time I will be just as excited for the cheeseburger as I was for the dessert!
  3. Schoop’s Hamburgers (South Suburbs and NW Indiana) Now I will admit, I have not had the chance to explore all of the delicious cheeseburger options in Northwest Indiana but one that is always my go to in the area is Schoop’s. Their burgers are thin handmade patties with crispy edges that add the perfect texture. Add melted cheese, bacon, and any other toppings you desire and you have a great and affordable burger!
  4. Redamak’s (New Buffalo, MI) Redamak’s is a seasonal spot that is always packed from March – October in Harbor Country. In stark contrast to Hot Chocolate – the ingredients that make up a Redamak’s burger are simple. The cheeseburger comes wrapped in wax paper and the cheese of choice (although you can order swiss) is Velveeta. I know,  I know – this is not the 4-year aged Wisconsin cheddar we discussed earlier – but on a Redamak’s burger it is a perfect addition. The cheese is so gooey it compliments every juicy burger bite! The only downside is that they are cash only – but I guarantee that this burger is one of the best I have had and is worth the trip to the ATM.

No matter where you are – or which burger place you choose – go out and celebrate. Have a favorite burger that was not mentioned? Please share your knowledge! Happy National  Cheeseburger Day.

The New Generation of Homebuyers

Guest blogger: Brooke Balco, Communications Specialist

Brooke Balco

Brooke Balco

According to a recent report by the National Association of Realtors, millennial homebuyers are on the rise, currently accounting for 28% of today’s buyers!  That is only 3% behind Gen X, the age group that accounts for the largest group of buyers.    And the good news according to the study is that this new generation is giving a boost to the housing market with a optimism that hasn’t been seen in years.

Buyers under the age of 32 were more confident than any other age group that their recent home purchase was a good financial investment.  This makes you wonder what influences their decisions when it comes to purchasing their first home and what do they consider a good investment compared to older generations? Here were some of the most interesting (and some surprising) findings:

  • Surprisingly, millennials typically bought homes built around 1986, nearly a decade older than the homes typically bought by the Silent Generation (age 67-87).
  • Younger buyers had a tendency to stay closer to their previous residence, often staying within 10 miles.  Older buyers generally moved more than 20 miles from their previous home.
  • Younger buyers cited the reason for buying a home was the desire to own a home of their own whereas older buyers wanted to be closer to family and friends.
  • Millennials tended to make more compromises with their home purchase than any other generation. They most often conceded on the price and size of the home, lot size, distance from job and style of home; whereas nearly half of Older Boomer and Silent Generation buyers made no compromises on their recent home purchase.

What remained the same across all generations was that buyers gained many benefits from working with a real estate professional. There were some differences however in how they chose an agent.  Younger generations chose agent’s that displayed honesty and trustworthiness, while older generations were more concerned with experience level and knowledge of neighborhoods.

Saying “I Do” To Homeownership Before Marriage

buying-home-before-marriageGuest blogger: Shannon Smith, Marketing Coordinator, Regional Support Center

Shannon Smith

Shannon Smith

It has come to my attention that I may be old fashioned in my idea of marriage before homeownership. A friend of mine recently told me her idea to buy a home immediately and push wedding planning to the backburner.  While I understood her desire to get a head start on purchasing the home of her dreams, now that she had found the man of her dreams, I was still confused how this new way thinking began.

After doing further research, I discovered that more couples were committing to joint homeownership before marriage for various reasons. If you find yourself discussing purchasing a home with your partner here are some things to consider;

Purchasing a home together BEFORE marriage:

  • Savings– Most couples spend the majority of their time at one partner’s home more so than the other. It is not long before they decide it would be easier to move in together and consolidate their expenses, rather than let one partner’s money go to waste.
  • The Right Time – Since it is no secret that now is an amazing time to purchase a home, it has resulted in low inventory of listing. If buyers find the perfect home, chances are someone in the position to buy that home immediately may feel the same way about that property. This encourages couples to commit to their homes before committing to each other to avoid watching every home they fall in love with get removed from the market.

Purchasing a home together AFTER marriage:

  • Strength in Numbers– With a combined income and good credit ratings for both parties, couples may qualify for a bigger loan and be able to put down a larger down payment on their home.
  • Forever is a Long Time-There is a lot of security built in for married couples in the unfortunate event that things don’t work out. However, if any snags occur in the relationship of unmarried partners, they cannot receive the same legal protections. This makes breaking up co-ownership of a house quite challenging.

Whatever you decide moving forward, please keep in mind that when you feel it is time to make major purchases with someone, consider the legal implications. If you decide to purchase a home together before you are married, make sure you have your own legal counsel to represent you in the purchase and arrange ownership (tenants in common vs. joint tenants). And make sure to find the perfect real estate professional to help you through the process.

A Day of Remembrance

It’s difficult to believe that the attacks on September 11th happened twelve years ago. For many, that day is permanently etched in their memory. But today, I’d like to focus on what happened after September 11th.

Living downtown Chicago, a city that was wondering “are we next?”, I remember afterwards that more people made unusual amounts of eye contact followed by a nod or a friendly greeting. Everyone was just a little bit nicer, a little more courteous, and more in touch with their community. That’s what I want to take from this tragedy, the sense of community that followed. How all of America seemed to become a little closer.

Today take a moment of silence to remember those who have fallen, the first responders and the military members who took up the charge after those tragic events. And maybe even take a walk down the street, look someone in the eye and give them a friendly smile.

“The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit. Instead we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic, and religious freedom, the rule of law and respect for human life. We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom.” -Rudolph Giuliani, former mayor of NYC

Get Your Home Football-Ready with a Media Room

One thing comes to mind when September rolls around – Football!  Today’s advanced technology has made it easier and more appealing than ever to create a media room that will make your home ready for game time.  With home automation, sleek accessories and a plethora of entertainment options, gearing up for football season in comfort and style is all that much more attainable.

Media rooms have gained so much recent popularity that the latest fad landed at number five on REALTOR Magazine’s13 Hot Home Trends for 2013”.  This is one home improvement project that will make your home the talk of the town.

“Today’s homebuyers aren’t looking for the formality of their parent’s house anymore,” said Fran Broude, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.   “They are willing to invest in areas of the home where they can spend time together as a family, enjoy and entertain.”

3 tips to transform an average room in to a media mecca perfect for entertaining:

  1. Less is more. It’s possible to keep your room looking clean and sleek with high tech devices that take the clutter out.  Get rid of all the wires and remotes by investing in a home automation system where you can control everything with the touch of one screen or with one remote.
  2. Go big or go home. A media room should revolve around the big screen, so this is not the place to skimp.  You can save on space by purchasing a flat screen television that can be mounted on to the wall, or even try a projection screen.
  3. Make it count. If you’re going to designate a space for entertainment, then make it useful to the entire family.  A multi-media room can be used as a home theatre, sports room, game room, or just a relaxing spot to chill out and listen to music.

Media Rooms pictured above:

 

 

Throwing A Football Season Kickoff Party

Guest blogger: Alicia Eisenbise, Social Media Specialist

Football Party Ideas

NFL fans…the wait is almost over. This weekend kicks off the official start of Football Season. Fantasy football teams have been chosen, your lucky football jersey is ready to go and now all you need is the perfect football party at home.

First of all, you MUST address the elephant in the room – where do you and your guests’ loyalties lie? There are just some people who can’t play nice (I have some friends who’s ears are ringing right now.)  For instance, within our region of WI, IL, IN and MI, we have a couple rivalries that are – shall we say – heated. During those “big games” against your rival you may think about choosing guests wisely and possibly arranging an escape plan.

Second, where do you and your guests stand on superstitions? There are only 16 games a year and you have to make them count which is probably why there are so many crazy superstitions. For instance, do you have a friend who won’t leave his or her seat, so they don’t jinx their team? Someone will need to bring them food and drinkss. I have actually watched a game where we strongly suggested one of the women stay in/near the bathroom because every time she did we scored. It’s not logical, but it is football. 

Last but not least, here are some ideas of key football food and decor.  Snacks and bite-size foods are always a hit. You can make them as simple as opening a bag of chips and salsa to making your own buffalo chicken wings with homemade blue cheese dressing. I’d suggest keeping it light on the desserts, people seem to gravitate towards the snacks at these events. Click here to see more Football Party Ideas on our Pinterest board.

After all is said and done, the most important thing is to gather your friends and family together and root for your favorite team (*cough* – the Bears) and settle in for what I hope is a long and prosperous season.