Behind the Scenes – Kick Off Your Shoes

Watch and see why Coldwell Banker chose Chile as the spot to film the newest TV spot that will debut during the Grammys on Sunday, January 26.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to see the pre-release and participate in the #HomeRocks Twitter party during the Grammys. To see all the behind-the-scenes videos or vote for your favorite song about home, go to Coldwell Banker’s Blue Matter blog.

25 Content Ideas for Your Real Estate Blog

By Alicia Eisenbise, Social Media Specialist

SMD_OHIO_January-1-25-blog-ideasYou are starting to blog – now what? Generating topic ideas is half the battle, so we brainstormed and created a list of possibilities.Remember, blogs don’t need to be long… just full of useful, sharable content.

Click here to download our entire Social Media Digest for January, including an article on Google+ in 2014.

1. Answer a real estate question you’ve been asked
2. Analyze local market updates
3. Create a video blog instead of writing
4. How-tos for buying, selling, staging, etc
5. What to do before you buy/sell
6. Mortgage facts
7. Neighborhood updates and things to doblurb
8. Neighborhood history
9. Story about buying
10. Story about selling
11. Beautiful photos of a home
12. Design inspiration
13. DIY home ideas
14. Your local community organizations/charities
15. Video tour of neighborhood or property
16. Why you became a real estate agent
17. Local business profile
18. Tips to buying a foreclosure or short sale
19. Final walkthrough tips
20. Home safety tips
21. Types of mortgages
22. Down payment Q&A
23. Favorite local shops
24. Home maintenance tips
25. Kid or pet-friendly housing ideas

SMD_CBRB_January-1-SMALLClick here to download our entire Social Media Digest for January, including an article on Google+ in 2014.

Behind the Scenes TV Shoot – Day 1

We’ll be unveiling some of the fun behind the scenes videos from our 2014 commercial shoot. The first 2014 ad will be running during the Grammy Awards on January 29th and is called “Home Sweet Home.”

The video above is from Day 1 of the commercial shoot in Santiago, Chile in December. Check out the video and watch for updates on Twitter, Facebook or this blog.

PS. You can get involved in the fun by using #HomeRocks in your tweets/posts.  

#FlashbackFriday: Going Home

By Alicia Eisenbise, Social Media Specialist, Regional Support Center

Home is where the heart is.

When I go to visit my parents in a rural town in northwestern Illinois, I always say “I’m going home.” I don’t intentionally do it. And I never say that I’m going to visit my mom and dad or that I’m going to Lanark. It is always “I’m going home this weekend.” The reason is simple. Even though I’m an adult with my own home, it will always be home in my heart. 

eisenbise-family-old-kitchen

My family in the old kitchen

In 1976, my parents sold both their Corvettes, they each had a Stingray, so they could buy our house for less than the cost of a compact car today. It was a “fixer-upper” that required constant improvements. Before major remodeling began it was a small house. But that small house was packed with a lot of love and overfilling with memories.

First day of school pics

First day of school pics

I spent my entire childhood in that home, so when I think of the house itself, there are so many memories flooding back that I can’t pick just one. Some of my #FlashbackFriday favorites are:

  • My sister and I took photos on the first day of school each year in front of the French doors that my mother had lovingly refinished.
  • As children, my sister and I used to tell the babysitting kids that if they were naughty we’d put them in the dirt part of the basement…not very nice, but effective.
  • My very first memory was in my parents’ room in front of their closet mirror throwing a temper tantrum when I found out my parents wouldn’t be home for my birthday because my sister had just been born (the day before my 3rd birthday). Eventually I warmed up to her.
  • We still refer to a remodeling project as “the new edition” even though it is about 24 years old (I just dated myself.)
  • My mom had a lot of babysitting kids and thankfully she made the rule that they weren’t allowed upstairs. We loved the kids, but that rule and the sturdy, antique door at the bottom of the stairs saved my sanity in high school more than once.

182611_1818022139859_5353526_nNow my nephew gets to go visit Grandma and Grandpa. He has even told my mom that when he grows up he wants a house just like theirs. You may think that he says that because there are minibikes, a four-wheeler, toys, games and he gets spoiled rotten…and some of that may be true. But the biggest reason is that he knows it feels like home, too.

Your “Finding a First Home” Checklist

Your “Finding a First Home” Checklist

Buying a home can be a great investment, and many households dream of starting a family and developing memories in their first home. When it comes to shopping for a property, many first-time homebuyers may be surprised by all the options their real estate agent provides. Luckily, there are several ways prospective buyers can narrow down their home search and find a property that best meets their needs.

The simplest way prospective buyers can begin their home search is to contact a real estate agent and go through a process of elimination by creating a simple checklist that outlines what they’re looking for.

Non-negotiable features

There are a number of home features and characteristics that buyers consider “must haves” before buying a home, therefore it’s important to start with these when making a checklist. For example, home-buyers may require a certain number of bedrooms or bathrooms, prefer to own a large piece of land or refuse to live in a certain neighborhood. These non-negotiable features should be communicated to their real estate agent to ensure that they are fulfilled before individuals spend time visiting home staging events.

Negotiable features

In some cases, buyers may want to own a home that features double bathroom sinks or borders two school districts. If these factors are important to buyers, but will not necessarily prompt them to turn away from a home sale, they should also be on the list. Real estate agents will work to meet all of a buyer’s guidelines, so buyers shouldn’t leave out the little amenities that may make a house feel more like a home.

Neighborhood caveats

You know what they say… “Location, Location, Location.” Choosing the right neighborhood features is almost as important as choosing the right home features. Neighbors, school districts, crime rates, amenities, costs and activities will be a part of a homebuyer’s life for years, so it’s crucial to take these factors into consideration as well when drawing out a list of wants.

Lastly, buyers shouldn’t get discouraged if it takes some time to find the right home. Finding a house that has all the necessary features is worth the wait, and any additional quirks or home features can be altered to meet a buyer’s needs.

Original post from Coldwell Banker Blue Matter blog.

Creating a Cozy Nook

Cuddle Up Day

By Lana Simon, Communications Specialist, Regional Support Center

Today is Cuddle Up Day and in celebration, I believe every home should have a cozy nook or two that you can escape to.

When I need downtime, I head to my basement to watch TV or a movie. Not only do I want to relax, but I want to get cozy!  This is how I made my special cozy nook:

One of the best home improvements that I made was installing canned lighting that works on dimmers. This was perfect for creating just the right lighting to  make it feel a home theatre experience.

We then added overstuffed leather sofas. My cozy spot is in the corner. I love to curl up with soft pillows and cover myself with handmade afghans. Then of course, we have the huge flat screen tv.

Here’s steps to create your own cozy nook in your home:

Step 1 – Determine your goal. Is to relax, organize, or work?

Step 2 –  Find a corner, secluded area or recessed spot in your home.

Step 3 –  Make the space and add a chair, desk or bench. Backdrop the space with wallpaper, artwork or a relaxing color paint.

Step 4 – Surround the one piece of furniture with a floor lamp, plant and/or small table. Add an awesome blanket, decor object or rug.

With this cold weather blast, escaping to a cozy nook makes it all better!

#FlashbackFriday: Home – My Place for Friends

Lana and Barbara at a dance recital.

Lana and Barbara at a dance recital.

By Lana Simon, Communications Specialist, Regional Support Center 

When I look back at my childhood home I feel warmth, love and friendship.

As a child, my home was always host to numerous play-dates and sleepovers.  Home is where I always fostered bonds with my friends.  We would spend numerous hours pretending to be grown-ups, playing “house”, Barbies, hide and seek and numerous games.  My friends and I would also play in the backyard, ride bikes, roller skate in my basement, play ping pong, listen to music and more.

My very first friend was Barbara.  We had revolving doors to each other’s houses. We met at age three and lived on opposite corners of the block. Our mothers would walk each of us to the middle, to meet up and then go to one’s house to play.  To this day, we are still in-touch.  Every time we get together we always reminisce about the good ol’ days and all the fun times and laughs we shared together.

As I got older, the play-dates evolved into watching VCR movies and home was a place to hang-out with friends and of course, boys!  I look back today at all the dear friends I had growing up, the silly antics and the warm memories of friendship.

#FlashbackFriday: Evolving Views of a Childhood Home

By Shannon Perkins, Marketing Coordinator, Regional Support Center

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I remember being extremely bored throughout my parent’s home buying process. At age eight, I had a hard time comprehending that this was one of the biggest decisions that they would make together. Once I realized that our move would not allow me to move closer to my childhood best friend I was completely uninterested in the entire ordeal. However, even at a young age I understood that finding a home near a school district with incredible special education resources for my brother made this process more complicated than most.

I dreaded looking at houses and could not understand why we had to look at so many! I had finally grasped the concept of sharing with my younger brother and felt that every home we saw had more than enough room for the both of us. My parents finally decided on a beautiful three bedroom corner house in Westchester. Our new home consisted of four levels and offered a lot more space than our former two bedroom apartment. I initially was overwhelmed by the amount of space and have vivid memories of being terrified of walking to certain parts of the house by myself, specifically the sub-basement. This area both intrigued and terrified me. It was a great conversation started as most people I talked to had never heard of a sub-basement, however I refused to step foot in that area after the sunset by myself until I was a teenager.

Twenty years later after several sleepovers, family parties, years of renovations and a dog; our spacious house doesn’t seem so scary anymore. I am glad that I still have the key to the place I will always call home. It’s been filled with so much love and so many memories that the only thing scary about our house is the responsibility I have to find one just like it for my family.

New Year’s Resolution: Saving for a Home

New Year’s Resolution: Saving for a HomeBy Alicia Eisenbise, Social Media Specialist, Regional Support Center

Although I work for a worldwide real estate industry leader, Coldwell Banker, sadly I am not a homeowner...yet. It’s not for lack of interest, but simply because I’ve been a bit of a wanderer. I’ve been renting since I moved out of my parents’ home after high school, which has been…we’ll just say a while. Now I’m ready to plant more permanent roots and the first step is saving for a down payment. So my New Year’s resolution is to buckle down and meet my goal of buying my first home!

Tips for saving for a down payment:

 1) Open a separate ‘down payment’ savings account.
When your savings account is attached to your checking, it can be tempting to make that bank transfer for a little something extra. Try setting up a separate savings account that is not attached. Maybe even set up an automatic deposit into your account biweekly or monthly.

2) Bite the budget bullet.
You won’t believe how much money you’ve been wasting until you really keep track of expenses. Instead of buying coffee every morning, buy a travel mug and make your coffee – then set aside that coffee money. Pack your lunch and make ahead dinners to curb the impulse for take-out on a busy weeknight. Set aside any money you would have spent on these little things and see how they really add up!

3) Down payment assistance. 
Do you qualify? Check out FHA.gov to see if you qualify for down payment assistance. If you are a Veteran, then additional programs may be open to you. Other possible sources are: the U.S. Department of Agriculture or state housing authorities. So make this your first step to see if you could qualify for assistance or a lower down payment.

4) You gotta shop around.
When is the last time you checked out insurance quotes? We all get comfortable with our automatic debits and sometimes forget we could almost always be paying less. Get competing quotes for insurance, phone, cable and other utilities, then deposit the savings in your account.

5) Pickup part-time or freelance work. 
If you’re in a real hurry, this may be your ticket to a faster path to homeownership. You may be surprised how a few extra hours here and there will bolster your savings. If you have a skill that will allow freelance work, you can even do make your own hours.

6) Time for a garage sale.
You’re planning on moving anyway, so you may as well cash in by having a garage sale or selling items on eBay or Craigslist. Plus it will make moving easier (and cheaper!)

What advice do you have to save for a down payment?