Year of Housing Recovery Opens Door for Aspiring Realtors

Stay at home mom. Waitress. Car salesman. Interior designer. Marketing guru.
What do these people all have in common? A new career in real estate.

2013 brought a whirlwind of excitement and optimism surrounding the real estate market. We saw positive headlines in the news across the country and heard success stories from buyers, sellers and real estate professionals. The housing recovery not only brought many buyers and sellers to the table, but also opened up an opportunity for people of all different backgrounds to explore new career possibilities. With unlimited earning potential, flexibility and the ability to create your own business, real estate was a natural choice for many this past year. In fact, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage reported a 58% increase in new agents to the business compared to 2012.

— Learn more about the new agents in the video—

Christine Groves – Multitasking mom
Christine-GrovesAfter 12 years in Human Resources, Christine Groves called it quits on her corporate career to take on life’s most important role – motherhood.  Fast forward six years, and Christine was ready to reenter the working world with a new outlook.  She wanted a job that would provide her with flexibility, earning potential and the ability to help people.   Now, she blends her strong communication skills with her savvy real estate knowledge to become a successful working mother who still finds time to wait in the carpool line. In 2013, Groves closed over $4,300,000 in home sales, and last year, she was named Coldwell Banker’s “Rookie of the Year” in the Western Region.

Jennifer DeVries- Social butterfly and waitress
Jennifer-DeVriesHaving grown up in an entrepreneurial family, Jennifer DeVries knew she wanted to be in business for herself, but hadn’t yet identified a good fit for her lifestyle. After college she took to waitressing where she used her outgoing personality to connect with customers. It was her social nature and charm that ultimately landed her in a new career.  She made quite an impression on a seasoned Realtor who she met on the job and was encouraged to visit a branch office to learn more about career opportunities.  She did just that the following morning, and hasn’t looked back since.  One year later she is VP of luxury home sales for the Straub Milito Group and was recently voted “Rookie of the Year” by her peers for Chicago Agent Magazine.

Conor Scanlon – Car Salesman
Conor ScanlonConor Scanlon graduated from DePaul University and quickly went to work for his family’s auto business, where he had worked in various roles since he was 13 years old and most recently selling cars.  Despite having four generation of the car business in his blood, he decided it was time for a change.  He attributes his interest in real estate to childhood experiences, moving around a lot to renovate and decorate new homes due to his mother’s love of flipping houses. As a lifelong Chicagoan, Conor’s passion for the unique offerings that Chicago provides its residents paired with his sales minded approach made for a smooth transition and successful first year on the job.

Trish Orndorff – Entreprenuer and interior designer
ATrish Orndorfflthough real estate was a natural progression for this talented interior designer, Trish Orndorff’s transition in to real estate was a gradual one.  Before starting her own redesign and staging business, Trish excelled as an advertising sales executive for Teen Magazine and Chicago Magazine.  After having children she decided to say farewell to her nine to five job to be a stay at home mom.  Thirteen years later she found the perfect outlet to channel her creativity and revisit her sales and marketing experience.  Her love of design married with the excitement of selling was the perfect equation for a successful Realtor.  She attributes her first year success to effective marketing and social media that allows her to stay connected to her network.

Brian Davis – Marketing and sales professional
Brian DavisPrevious to his position at Coldwell Banker, Brian Davis held a marketing position working with well established businesses such as Comcast, AT&T, Staples, and Verizon. It wasn’t until he personally went through the process as a first time homebuyer that he contemplated becoming a Realtor himself.  He was inspired by his real estate agent, referred to him by a friend, and amazed at how much she enjoyed what she did for a living.   Buying his first home is an experience that he will never forget, and now he feels lucky to have the privilege of being the person behind that and helping to find his clients the home of their dreams.

Tips for Facebook Ads in Real Estate

By Alicia Eisenbise, Social Media Specialist, Regional Support Center

Tips for Creating Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are a valuable tool for businesses. They are a cost effective way (Facebook is great for small budgets) to target advertising to a very specific audience and drive brand awareness.

Set a goal and strategy.
What are you promoting? Your website, listing or Facebook business page? When someone clicks on the ad where will they go? Sending a customer to a landing page, where you gather contact information is ideal. Sending a customer to a video of your listing or your listing on your branded website is also effective.

This blog is an excerpt from our Social Media Digest, click here to read the entire December edition.

Target your audience.
Facebook allows you to target your ads according to location, age, gender, precise interests, etc. Choosing a city with a radius or zip codes allows you to narrow
the audience.

Test pictures.
A great image may be the reason a client clicks your ad. Facebook allows up to 6 pictures for 1 ad. Don’t be afraid to upload multiple images. When Facebook sees that one is getting a better response, it automatically pushes that ad more often.

Set a time and budget.
Select a lifetime or daily budget. Start small – $2/day or $25 for the lifetime of the campaign. Then schedule your ad for a specific time period. Click here to create a Facebook ad.

Click here to read our entire Social Media Digest for December, covering Facebook Ads and 2014 Social Media Trends.

12 Facts on the Singleton Market

Guest blogger: Dick Greenwood, Director, Builder Marketing

Facts About Singleton Home Buyers

  1. Middle-aged women have become the fastest growing group of single, female homeowners, according to new research by Redfin.  The number of 45 to 54 year old single female homeowners has soared 120% from 1982 to 2012. (source: Realtor Magazine)
  2. Single females have outnumbered single men buyers of real estate since 1982 when the census began collecting data. (source: Realtor Magazine)
  3. One person households are the fastest growing type of household. (source: Urban Land Institute)
  4. Single women accounted for 20% of all home sales last year. (source: NAR)
  5. America is a solo nation—28% of all households in America consist of 1 person. (source: Urban Land Institute)
  6. Living alone in 2012—34% of adult males never married and 28% of adult females never married. (source: Urban Land Institute)
  7. In 2012, 49% of all households in America are married couples. (source: Urban Land Institute)
  8. 50% of all homes in Manhattan, New York have a single person living alone. (source: Urban Land Institute)
  9. Single women look for a home they love; single men prioritize a good value. (source: Redfin Research Special Report)
  10. Single women are less likely than single men to be buying a home for investment purposes.  (source: Redfin Research Special Report)
  11. Only 13% of single woman were interested in buying a short sale vs. 30% of single men. (source: Redfin Research Special Report)
  12. Facing rising prices, single women said they would be more likely than men to step back or to do whatever it takes to secure the home; single men said they are more likely to stay disciplined.  (source: Redfin Research Special Report)

Halloween Decor that Won’t Scare Away Buyers

By Alicia Eisenbise, Social Media Specialist, Regional Support Center

Scary Witch c/o Connie Eisenbise

Scary Witch c/o Connie Eisenbise

“Oh no, scary witch” whined my 3-year old nephew when he saw the witch my mom made standing on the front porch. I agree. The thing is pretty intimidating. Trick or treaters either love her or are too frightened to even approach the door. Over the years, my nephew and I have come to love the wart-faced, creepy old lady, but if my parents were to put their home on the real estate market, it would be the first thing to go. 

When you have your home on the market, is it still okay to decorate for the holidays? I’ve been told the answer is — yes, but keep the decor neutral and minimal. You don’t want to scare the buyers (or their children) off your property. You also don’t want them to only focus on the “scary witch” and not see the beautiful original door with leaded glass windows.

  1. Declutter and stage first. Before you worry about decorating for the holidays. Have you decluttered and staged your home? Begin by staging, then add the touches of Fall and Halloween.
  2. Compliment your decor. Make sure any decorations compliment your color scheme and decor.
  3. Keep it minimal. Less is more. If you’re like my mom and go crazy for Halloween, then you may want to choose only a few decorations to feature out of your Halloween stockpile. Instead of decorating every room, maybe choose 2 or 3 rooms to have a 1 to 2 decorations in each room.
  4. Halloween curb appeal. The front door is a great place to decorate with a few gourds, pumpkins and leaves or maybe a wreath. (Save the giant scary witch for next year.)
  5. Hire a great real estate agentLast, but NOT least. The best way to judge if you have found the right balance is to ask your real estate agent. A great agent will tell you if your ‘boo-factor’ is too high and will scare away sellers.

Real Estate Rose from the Ashes

Guest blogger: Alicia Eisenbise, Social Media Specialist

A few months ago I was at an event at 1871, a space in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart where digital startups work in a techy, open space. The space is named after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, but not because of the destruction. It’s named 1871 because of the amazing engineering, architecture and inventions that happened afterwards.

As I was wandering around, I saw a framed article about the first business to open after the Great Chicago Fire…a real estate business. It rose from the ashes a day after the fire with a hand-painted sign reading “All gone but wife, children and energy.”

The article reminded me of two things: the resilience of Chicagoans and the resilience of real estate. The Great Chicago Fire knocked down Chicago, but it was rebuilt one brick at a time and emerged a bigger, better and stronger place. In 2007 the housing crisis was upon us and the real estate industry took a big hit. Five years later, and we’re witnessing housing recover, home prices increase and lending practice tightened to help prevent a resurgence. Throughout it all, we’ve seen real estate agents use innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit to rise like a phoenix from the ashes. This month marks 142 years since Great Chicago Fire, so let’s take a moment to celebrate that resilient spirit.

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Guest blogger: Alicia Eisenbise, Social Media Specialist

Keeping your home in great shape takes elbow grease, some creativity and organization. I am the “queen of checklists.” I have a camping checklist, a housecleaning checklist and a moving checklist–all in spreadsheets of course. I’m just surprised I don’t have a checklist of my checklists (yet!) As winter approaches, I hope this Fall Home Checklist helps make the transition from summer to winter a little bit easier (and more organized.)

  1. Clean gutters.
    I think it’s pretty safe to bet that no one likes this job, but cleaning out the gutters can save you tons of money in the long run. Clean out the gutters, inspect joints, tighten brackets and flush out with water.
  2. Inspect the roof.
    Check for missing or loose shingles. A bad storm or changing temperatures can destroy an already damaged roof. Don’t take the chance.
  3. Seal gaps and cracks.
    Caulk is your best friend. Caulk around windows or door frames that are a bit leaky. It takes just a few minutes and a couple dollars to save your heating bill from skyrocketing.
  4. Put up storm windows.
    Not everyone uses them, but if you have storm windows or doors, start to install them to save on heating costs.
  5. Stay safe.
    Check fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors. Now is also a great time to review your fire escape plan or any other safety plans. Look for our blog next week on fire safety for even more tips.
  6. Clean outdoor furniture.
    Unfortunately it’s almost time to put away your patio furniture. In order to keep it looking (and smelling like new), take a little time to prep it. Here are some great, inexpensive tips to clean your outdoor furniture.
  7. Check your furnace and humidifier.
    Clean your filters, plates or pads. If you have any issues or questions, consult a professional and have them make any repairs.
  8. Drain your lawn-irrigation system.
    If you have a sprinkler system, this is extremely important, but call a professional, as it will avoid it from freezing and ruining your system. 

What are the big Fall projects on your checklist?

5 Great Home Project Apps

Guest blogger: Alicia Eisenbise, Social Media Specialist

A little inspiration or help is never a bad thing when you are preparing your home for sale or just freshening up your style for a parade of guests during the holiday season. I usually turn to technology to help tackle a project or grab inspiration. Here are some of my favorite home design and project apps:


1. YouTube

You may think YouTube doesn’t sound like a interior design or project app, but I beg to differ. You can find a “how to” video on just about anything from installing tile to fixing a leaky faucet. There is no end to the knowledge and the help you can source from simply searching YouTube.

2. Houzz

Houzz is an amazing source for design inspiration, finding unique products and even finding local pros, like contractors and designers. The only problem is…there are so many great ideas!

3. Photo Measures

Photo Measures makes it easy to take the dimensions of your project area with you. Available in iPad, iPhone and iTouch, this app does cost $5.99, but may be a good investment instead of fumbling around with hand drawing that you later can’t read when you’re at the hardware store. Simply snap a photo, draw measurements directly on the photo, add text and you can even export it as a PDF or JPG.

4. ColorSmart by BEHR® Mobile

Ever wonder how much paint you’ll need for a room or forget what that paint was called? The ColorSmart by BEHR® Mobile app provides a solution to your painting woes. The app provides inspiration, color/photo matching, saving color swatches, help finding new color combinations and even a Paint Calculator to figure out how much paint you’ll need for a project.

5. Handy Man DIY 

Sometimes projects can get large and out of control. With the Handy Man DIY app ($1.99), you can look up DIY videos, instructions, keep track of dimensions and measurements, get seasonal reminders, create task lists, email shopping lists and much more.

What Makes Winnetka Appealing to Luxury Home Buyers? 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.

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.

Screech, Screech, Screech…The Sound of Listings Being Scraped

Scraping Listings Guest blogger: Derek Light, Manager, E-Marketing 

Derek Light

Derek Light

Ever been surfing Craigslist or Hotpads and see a familiar listing with an unfamiliar name?  Scraping or stealing listing information, is a problem that seems to ebb and flow with the market.  Scraping seemed to fly under the radar over the past few years but has come back as the real estate market heated up over the last few months.  I want to take a look at few components of scraping, why people do it, if it’s legal and what you can do about it.

Why would anyone want the data?

I wouldn’t be writing about this if the data didn’t have any value.  The reason an agent or brokerage would scrap active listings would be to promote/market, make themselves seem more legitimate and/or get on the buy side of the transaction. Secondly I see listings that are off market and being advertised as for rent.  These listings are typically undervalued for the market; the scam is to get someone to put up a deposit.  Finally people selling homes are valuable to businesses that offer ancillary services.  This kind of scraping isn’t visible and I’ve never heard anyone voice concern over this (please correct me if I’m wrong on this one).

Is it legal to scrap listing data?

Parts of listings are factual and not proprietary, so by rule scraping of all data isn’t necessarily prohibited.  However courts have ruled in a case that pitted Regional Multiple Listing Service of Minnesota (Northstar MLS) vs. American Home Realty Network ( that photos and agent descriptions are proprietary.  While this seems obvious, this was the first case that properly dealt with issue and it was only last November.

The issues I deal with on a day to day basis are scraping of individual listings.  Not only is this a copyright violation but it also violates IDX rules as often the listing is not attributed back to the broker.   This type of scraping is often worse for the agent’s that are victims as they have to spend valuable time trying to get the listing down or explaining to a past client why someone is knocking on their door to rent.

Fighting Scrapers

While the widespread theft of listing data seems to be less of a problem now, it still exists and nothing is going to stop all of it.

MLS’s and brokers have been proactive creating defenses to prevent scraping and have better agreements in place with partners that have created such a large network of channels that the value has been diminished.

There are no silver bullets to keep you listings from being scraped.  Listing agents should be vigilant and set up alerts for all listings.  Should anything pop up you should go to the offending site and flag the listing immediately to minimize any damage.

I would love to learn from you guys!

Have any of your listings ever been scraped?

Do you have any recommendations on how to fight it?