SarahiouslySpeaking Has Found A New Home!

Well, a home of sorts.  After 10 years of searching for the right place to hang my license and countless hours figuring out what directon my business is going, I have found a new real estate company to call home.  As of July 2013, SarahiouslySpeaking and my license have been with Nest Realty Fredericksburg.  Not only have I hung my license with Nest Realty, but I have become the Principal and Managing Broker of the Fredericksburg branch. 

State Branch Logo

What is Nest Realty?

Founded in 2008, Nest Realty is a full-service real estate brokerage specializing in residential and commercial properties throughout Virginia. Through a strong focus on technology, customer service, and the region’s most innovative and focused marketing strategies, Nest Realty has established itself as a top choice for buyers and sellers of residential and commercial property.

Nest’s standards of excellence carry through to all aspects of our business. At our core, we believe that the greatest strength of our company is the quality of our agents, and we’ve assembled a team of the best and brightest real estate professionals in Virginia. Their list of accomplishments is lengthy, but those achievements pale in comparison to the satisfaction we get from helping our clients “Live Where They Love.”  

And that’s we we do. Help people buy and sell houses.

But the reason why we do it is simple. We believe the real estate experience is often a gateway to the next chapter of your life. The process should be a happy one. Fun. Moving. Exhilarating. It is for us, and we love sharing it with our clients.  

A Sampling of Awards:

    • 2013 Inc 5000 Honoree
    • 2013 Inman News’ Most Innovative Digital Real Estate Marketing Campaign or Strategy Honoree
    • 2012 Virginia Living’s top Real Estate Firms Honoree
    • 2009 Inman News’ Most Innovative Brokerage 
    • 2009 HP Realtor Technology Award

Nest Logo

 

What does this mean for my current clients? 

Everything will pretty much stay the same for my clients.  If your home is currently listed with me, you just get a new sign in your front yard.  If you are currently searching for a new home with me; we will continue to search for your new home.  If you are currently under contract, we will head to the closing table together.  You should not feel a big jolt during my transition. 

What does this mean for future clients?

This is a very exciting company to be involved with.  Nest Realty prides itself on stellar customer service.  I am working diligently with the team in Charlottesville to provide Fredericksburg with the same systems and tools that have worked so well in our other markets.  You will be offered a more cohesive brand and marketing strategy, as well as an enhanced knowledge of the area as I work to create partnerships throughout the community.  Believe me, all of this will make more sense as you see our systems and tools unveiled. 

What does this mean for my past clients?

You will start to receive new promotional materials from me explaining what Nest Realty can offer you as a former client and Nest friend.  I may even ask you to share your home buying and selling experience with me and let me know how you think the overall experience can be approved.  I will be introducing you to local partnerships we have with other locally owned and operated businesses, in hopes of creating a buy local/ stay local atmosphere.  I will continue to be available to you to answer any real estate related questions, or to just catch up. 

The Next Step

Feel free to contact me with any questions you might have.  Nest also LOVES visitors!  You can always stop by our office at 510 Princess Anne Street Suite 201 and have a cup of coffee and sit for a chat.  You can also visit our parent website www.nestrealty.com and see for yourself how Nest Realty is raising the bar in real estate.  And, be sure to stay tuned for the exciting unveiling of Nest Fredericksburg’s Live Where You Love video series.  You will never look at Fredericksburg the same!

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Is Your Agent Connected?

What do I mean by connected?  I definitely don’t mean the bright shiny objects that have been floating around the marketing world and interwebs.  Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest only go so far in developing sustainable relationships.  Is your agent connected to other agents? 

Personal Connections Matter

Personal Connections Matter

The real estate industry is a pretty cut throat world to be a part of.  From day one real estate agents are taught that everyone with a real estate license is our competition.  There is this myth that there a not enough potential clients to go around.  Survival of the fittest.  Do what needs to be done to get the business.  It is rare to find a real estate veteran who isn’t traumatized from the lack of cooperation from fellow agents.  There isn’t a real estate course that teaches agents to be nice to each other. (I think there should be). 

I’ve been actively selling real estate for 10 years.  I can’t say that all of my transactions have had fabulous relations between the agents or the buyer and seller.  Sometimes egos get in the way, sometimes feelings get hurt, and sometimes representing my client means the other side loses something they are fight for.  But, my goal is to have a reputation as an honest, ethical, educated agent who represents her clients well and gets to the closing table.  Why?  Reputation goes alot further in real estate than most consumers realize.  A past transaction and it’s outcome can affect future transactions.  If an agent is known for being difficult, aggressive, and/ or unethical, other agents don’t want to work with them.  Who wants to be put through a transaction that will exhaust them or may be doomed to fail from the outset?  The more business an agent does, the more likely they have a reuptation amoung fellow practioners.  So, what if your real estate agent’s reputation with their colleagues? 

Whenever I show homes or receive offers from buyer’s agents I always let my client know if the agent is someone who I recommend they work with.  What!?!  I actually tell my clients if they want to work with an agent!?!  Yes, I do.  Without having to go into detail about prior experiences with other agents, my clients deserve to know if a cooperating agent will get this transaction to the closing table.  They deserve to know how long the agent has been licensed and how many education courses they have taken in the last 2 years.  The numbers and terms of the offer are only one component of the potential transaction.  The abilities and limitations of the people on the other side of the transaction are an even more important component; so important that many agents will advise  their clients to accept an offer with a lower sales price and more contingencies because the agent representing the buyer is good at their job. 

So, you need to ask the question, Is My Agent Connected?  Are they connected with agents in their market area?  Can they set expectations for working with cooperating agents when showing houses or reviewing offers?  Will their connections make my home sale

 or home purchase experience more enjoyable?  IS My Agent Connected?

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Debt Collectors: Don’t Like Them, Can’t Avoid Them

 

The Fair Debt Collections Act

The Fair Debt Collections Act

If you are short selling your home, you are most likely experience debt collectors.  As a REALTOR(R) who lists short sales, I expect to get calls from my clients who are frustrated at the lack of professionalism in the debt collection industry.  Part of my job as a short sale listing agent is to take some of the stress and burden off of the seller, but I can’t prevent these calls.  You took out a loan, you haven’t paid the loan back under the terms you promised, the bank has a right to try and collect on the debt.  However, there are rules and regulations for debt collectors.  Many of these rules and regulations are being violated.  It is the consumer’s responsibility to make sure their rights are not being violated and report it if they are. 

The Fair Debt Collections Act is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.  The FDCA covers debt including personal credit cards, mortgages, and auto loans.  Here are some commonly violated rules of the FDCA.

1.  No debt collector can call you before 8am and after 9pm, unless you agree to it.  They can not call you at work, as long as you express to the collector that you are not allowed to receive calls there. 

2.  If you no longer want the debt collector to contact you, you may tell them to stop all contact in writing.  Again, this must be done in writing.  However, if you do owe a debt, it is not always the best idea to avoid collection phone calls.  It is probably in your best interest to try and work something out with the debt collector.

3.  A collector can only contact other people to find out your address, your phone number, and/ or your place of work.  Collectors are usually not allowed to contact a 3rd party more than once.  The collector is generally not allowed to discuss the debt with a 3rd party, unless it is your spouse or an attorney.

4.  Debt collectors are not allowed to harass, use threats of violence or harm, use obscene or profane language, or repeatedly use the phone to annoy someone. 

5.  Debt collectors are not permitted to make false statements.  They can not claim you have committed a crime. We no longer have debtor’s prison. 

6.  Some federal benefits are exempt from being garnished.  These include: Social Security Benefits, Veteran’s Benefits, Service Members’ Pay, and Military Annuity and Survivors’ Benefits.

You can report any alleged or perceived violations to your state Attorney General’s office and the Federal Trade Commission.  Your state Attorney General’s office will help you determine your rights under your state’s laws.    

 

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It’s Snowing and Cold.

The First Snow of 2013

The First Snow of 2013

Well, it has finally snowed in Fredericksburg!  School is cancelled, the government is on unscheduled leave, and children are trying to determine if the snowfall is enough to build a snowman.  (It’d be a tiny snowman).  The weather has definitely taken a turn toward winter with temperatures below freezing and all this white fluffy stuff.  Here’s a little reminder of precautions you need to be taking.

1.  Please check on your elderly neighbors.  Make sure that they have sufficient heat in their homes and plenty of blankets, etc to help keep them warm.  Taking over a hot meal would be icing on the cake!  The elderly and infants/ babies are extremely susceptible to cold weather.  Help them prepare for a few more days of this.

2.  Do NOT leave your pets outside for extended periods!  Your animals are equally vulnerable to hypothermia.  Keep your furry family members inside as much as possible.  When they come in from outdoors, be sure to wipe their paws and make sure that no ice, snow, or snow salt is stuck in between their toes. 

3.  Remove snow from outdoor hose bibs.  The last thing you want to have to deal with is a frozen pipe.  Remove the snow from around outdoor hose bibs and disconnect hoses.  The water is the hose can back up into the hose bib and cause the bib or piping to split.  This can result in hundreds to thousands of dollars worth of water damage. 

4.  Make sure you have fresh batteries in your carbon monoxide and heat detectors.  Cold weather mens many people will finally use their wood burning and gas fireplaces.  Go ahead and replace the batteries in your detectors just to make sure they will work properly.

5.  Never throw hot ash out near your home or anything that can catch fire.  Make sure that hot ashes are completely cooled before disposing them. 

6.   Make sure your emergency kit and supplies are stocked and ready for use.  if the power goes out, you will need flashlights and sources of heat.  If you live on a well system, you will need access to at least 2 days worth of water. 

I hope you enjoy the weather, and if you’re not, the groundhog will be making an appearance in just about a week.  Maybe he won’t see his shadow.

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Top 10 Most Expensive Sales of 2012

#10 – 15458 Machodoc Drive King George, VA 22485

15458 Machodoc Drive King George, VA 22485

15458 Machodoc Drive King George, VA 22485

 

 

Sitting on 480 feet of Machodoc Creek water-frontage, this 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom rambler comes in at #10 on this year’s Top 10 list.  The property features 6.54 acres, a tenant house, pier, boat house, and party room.  With only a 10 minute commute to Dahlgren and 30 minutes to Fredericksburg, this home is a great escape.  Listed at $900,000 by Coldwell Banker Elite, the home sold for list price through the listing agent. 

 

 

#9 – 11512 Henegan Place Spotsylvania, VA 22551

11512 Henegan Place Spotsylvania, VA 22551

11512 Henegan Place Spotsylvania, VA 22551

 

This Fawn Lake property sits on 128 ft of Fawn Lake waterfront complete with dock and boat lift.  Built by local builder, Sagun, the home features 4 bedrooms, and 4.5 bathrooms, basement, silestone counters, main level master, 3 car garage, and meticulously manicured lawn.  The gated community features the lake, golf course, community center with dining room, tennis courts, and so much more.  Offered at $969,000, the home sold for $910,000 in just 6 days.  The home was listed and sold by Fawn Lake Real Estate. 

 

 

 

#8 – 431 Marlborough Point Road Stafford, VA 22554

431 Marlborough Point Road Stafford, VA 22554

431 Marlborough Point Road Stafford, VA 22554

 

 

This 4 bedroom, 4.5 bathroom colonial sits on 2.78 acres on the Potomac River.  The home is approx 4400 square feet and features 2 fireplaces, 2 staircases, a main level office, private pier, and boat and jet ski lift.  It was listed for $949,950 and sold for $920,000 with $18,617 in seller subsidy.  It was listed and sold by M.O. Wilson Properties.   

 

 

 

#7 – 5120 Ridge Road Spotsylvania, VA 22551

5120 Ridge Road Spotsylvania, VA 22551

5120 Ridge Road
Spotsylvania, VA 22551

 

 

This Lake Anna waterfront home features 192 feet of water frontage, 1 acre lot, 4 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, a main floor master, basement, a single boat slip, and 4 fireplaces.  The home has an open floorplan, perfect for summer entertaining.  Listed by Dockside Realty for $975,000, the home sold for $940,000 thru Lake Anna Realty.

 

 

 

#6 – 5636 Cove Harbour Drive King George, VA 22485

5636 Cove Harbour Drive King George, VA 22485

5636 Cove Harbour Drive King George, VA 22485

 

 

Another waterfront property has made the Top 10 list.  This is also the only short sale that made the list.This King George County home sits on 10.16 acres on the Potomac Creek.  Featuring 7 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, and 2 half baths, this 9000+ square foot home has one of the most amazing views a person could ask for.  The home was listed for $995,000 and sold for $960,000 through City Realty, LLC.   

 

 

#5 – 11400 Meade Pointe Spotsylvania, VA 22551

11400 Meade Pointe Spostylvania, VA 22551

11400 Meade Pointe
Spostylvania, VA 22551

 

 

This gem is the former home of Joe Gibbs, former Washington Redskins football coach.  Listed at $1,099,000 by Danford Barton Real Estate, this sprawling rambler has 5 bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms, double 2 car garages, his & her master bathroom, and sits on Fawn Lake.  The home sold after almost a year on the market for $1,000,000 by MacDoc Realty. 

 

 

 

#4 – 1200 Prince Edward Street Fredericksburg, VA 22401

1200 Prince Edward Street Fredericksburg, VA 22401

1200 Prince Edward Street Fredericksburg, VA 22401

 

Once the burned out shell of an apartment building and former medical office, this property was converted into a single family home by real estate developer Mike Degan.  The front of the property, the original entrance to the building, includes a 2 car garage and in-law suite.  A courtyard and loggia connects to the residence which consists of 4 bedrooms, and 3.5 bathrooms.  The home features beautiful hardwood floors, an exquisite kitchen, and finished basement.  The home was listed by Coldwell Banker Carriage House for $1,197,000 and sold for $1,000,000.   

 

 

#3 – 14800 Comfort Lane Mineral, VA 23117

This is the only listing in the TOP 10 that did not provide any pictures and a very brief description. That could be why it took almost a year to sell.  This home is another waterfront home on Lake Anna.  The home sits on 5 acres, 400 feet of waterfront, has 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and 2 half baths.  It conveys with a single boat slip.  The home was listed by Long and Foster Real Estate for $1,086,000 and was sold by the listing agent for $1,086,000.   

 

 

#2 – 402 Hanover Street Fredericksburg, VA 22401

402 Hanover StreetFredericksburg, VA 22401

402 Hanover Street
Fredericksburg, VA 22401

 

 

This 2nd Empire Victorian has been beautifully restored and offers a fabulous downtown lot with off street parking.  This 5 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom home was built in 1888 and features today’s desired amenities with yesterday’s craftsmanship.  The home was listed for $1,200,000 and sold for $1,100,000 by Coldwell Banker Carriage House.

 

 

 

#1 – 13608 Fifth Corps Lane Fredericksburg, VA 22407

13608 Fifth Corps LaneFredericksburg, VA 22407

13608 Fifth Corps Lane
Fredericksburg, VA 22407

 

 

Believe it or not, this home was part of a bankruptcy sell.  No word better describes this home than palatial.  Featuring 17,000+ square feet, this home sits on 6.5 acres.  There are 6 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, 4 half baths, hardwood floors, windows galore, and architectural features that are too numerous to list.  The kitchen, alone, is the size of most single family homes in the area.  The home was listed at auction by Tranzon Fox and sold for $1,595,000 by Century 21 Adventure, now C21 Adventure Redwood. 

 

All pictures courtesy of MRIS.

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Fredericksburg’s Restaurant Week is Coming Soon!

Fredericksburg’s Restaurant Week
January 18-28, 2013

The week I always enjoy is coming soon!  Restaurant Week will take place in Fredericksburg from January 18-28.  this is your chance to taste selected menus at some of Fredericksburg’s favorite restaurants.  This year’s participants include:

The Bavarian Chef

Bistro Bethem

Brock’s Riverside Grill

Capital Ale House

Colonial Tavern/Home of the Irish Brigade

Eileen’s Bakery & Café

Fizzlebottom’s Café

Foode

Jake & Mike’s

Kybecca Wine Bar

La Petite Auberge

Otter House

Poppy Hill Tuscan Kitchen

Ristorante Renato

Sunken Well Tavern

Tru Luv’s

Virginia Deli

Since you probably won’t be able to take advantage of all the restaurants participating, I’ll let you know what I think is worth the $10.13 lunch and $20.13 dinner fees. 

My choices for lunch are:  (all lunches are $10.31)

Colonial Tavern – offering your choice of 2 preselected sandwiches with fries and a non-alcoholic drink.  In essence you can have a lunch for you and a friend for $10.13.  That’s a pretty good deal.

Eileen’s – is offering a choice of a whole sandwich, side salad or soup, specialty pastry or dessert, and a soda, regular or specialty iced tea.  Eileen’s offers an interesting atmosphere and fresh baked goods.  It’s a little farther than the beaten path, but well worth the trip! 

Fizzlebottom’s – This is one of my new favorite places for lunch.  It’s located inside the Made in Virginia Store on Caroline Street.  They are featuring a cup of soup, a regular sandwich ($8 and under), and a drink.  Fizzlebottom’s is locally owned and operated and offers interesting and delicious flavor combinations for their soups and sandwiches.  I highly recommend stopping in! 

For dinner I recommend: (all dinners are $20.13)

The Bavaraian Chef -  I’m not much for German food, yet I haven’t eaten anything here I didn’t like.  If you aren’trthe most adventurous eater you are safe by ordering the Schweinebraten.  Don’t worry, you’ll thank me later.  The family style sides are to die for. Your dinner includes an appetizer, entree, family style sides, and a dessert from a predetermined menu.  Your $20.13 per meal is well spent here. 

Renato Restaurante –  This is one of those places I always forget about.  I think it has to do with its location at the top of William Street before the other restaurants in town.  But, Restaurant week is the perfect time for me to get them back on my social and eating calender.  Renato’s is featuring a three course dinner with appetizer choices including oysters rockefellar, dinner choices including pollo milano and veal parmigiana, and traditional Italian desserts. 

I hope you enjoy Restaurant Week.  And remember to always support locally owned and operated eating establishments!

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Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act Extended

As American taxpayers waited anxiously to see if Congress could come to some sort of agreement in regards to the impending fiscal cliff, real estate agents were waiting on news of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act that was set to expire on January 1, 2013.  The Act was put into place in 2007 to help consumers who had to short sale their principle residence or had received a reduction in their mortgage principle.  To qualify for the debt relief the debt must have been used to buy, build, or substantially improve their principle residence AND be secured by their principle residence.  The maximum amount that can be ”forgiven” is up to $2million.   

In layman’s terms, if the amount owed to a lender was $300,000 and the amount the home sold for was $200,000, there is a $100,000 deficiency.  Before 2007, this deficiency amount ($100,000) could be taxed by the IRS as additional income to the borrower.   In most cases, this additional “income”puts a person in a higher tax bracket, thus increasing their taxes due at the end of the year.  Many consumers would have to file for bankruptcy or face huge tax bills, fees, and fines, on top of the immediate implications of principle reduction or short sale.  Had the Act expired, short sales would have lost their appeal to underwater home owners, thus eliminating a way of avoiding foreclosure.      

So, yay!  There is some good news attached to the passing of the American Tax Payer Relief Act.  We have 362 more days to short sale a principle residence without IRS tax implications.  Keep in mind that short sales are a long process and can take upwards of 6 months to negotiate.  If you are interested in exploring this option to help avoid foreclosure, you need to contact a qualified real estate agent very soon.  As the economy recovers, there is less and less of a chance that this benefit will be extended.

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Weekend Fun Is Ready To Be Had!

Fall Fun!

 

Looking for something to do this weekend?  Well, there’s plenty to choose from!  You can actually do it all!

Fredericksburg Farmer’s Market

Hurkamp Park hosts the Fredericksburg Farmer’s Market 7am-2pm on Saturday and 12:30-4pm on Sunday.  Saturday usually consists of up to 28 vendors selling meats, vegetables, eggs, breads, and plants.  You can also get an assortment of homemade goods most weekends.  The farmer’s market is set up on the perimeter of the park and there is plenty of room for play in the middle of the park.  You can find play groups, individuals, and families playing throughout the day.  This weekend’s market should feature the following in-season products: apples, broccoli, cucumbers, grapes, green beans, green peppers, pumpkins, raspberries, squash, and tomatoes. 

Virginia State Fair

After months of speculation that there would be no state fair this year, Commonwealth Fairs and Events, LLC was formed to run the fair and other events at Meadow Event Park.  The Fair opens on Friday, September 28 at 2pm and runs until Sunday, October 7 (9pm).  Discount tickets can be purchased at BB&T and Martin’s Food Markets.  This year’s fair features concerts, pig races, Bengal Tiger Encounter, carnival-style side show performances, a petting zoo, an escape artist, and many more attractions that will entertain guests of all ages.  A schedule of daily events can be found here.  (I’m most looking forward to pig races and turkey legs!)

Oktoberfest!

Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw will tap the ceremonial keg at noon and the celebration will begin!  2 blocks of Caroline Street and 2 blocks of George Street will be blocked off for the event.  German dancers and German bands will be featured throughout the day and Fredericksburg’s Elby Brass Band will also be entertaining the crowd.  Food and spirits can be purchased from vendors located in the blocked off areas.  Other restaurants and businesses offer specials and discounts during the event.  Please remember to be respectful to other businesses and visit other businesses while you participate in this fantastic event.  The Fredericksburg Area Service League will be hosting Kinderplatz – a large area dedicated to children and children’s activities.  There is a $2 charge for access to this area and proceeds go to helping the Fredericksburg Area Service League improving the lives of young people in the region.  You will find me in the mix with my souvenir beer stein and gigantic Bavarian pretzel! 

Belvedere Plantation Fall Festival

One of my favorite events of the fall, Belevdere Plantation’s Fall Festival starts this Saturday and runs thru October 28.  This weekend is Teacher Appreciation Weekend.  Teachers plus one guest will get free admission with proper ID.  This year’s attractions include a barnyard petting zoo, pig races, the Fun Barn, Pumpkin Mountain slide, a jumping pillow, and a barrel train ride for children 12 and under.  This year’s corn maze features a patriotic theme with a large American flag as it’s main its highlight.  New this year is a Little Farmer’s Maze!  This maze is just for the little guys and has no bridges and is stroller accessible!  The Red Rooster will be serving up delicious fair fare.  There is even a selection for the children which includes fruit, juice boxes, and carrot sticks.  Don’t forget to grab your fresh pies and pumpkins on your way out!

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How Much Home Can You Get For $250k in Fredericksburg?

The real estate market is continuing to change.  Home prices are starting to rise, very slowly, and many homes have multiple offers within a few weeks of being listed.  Buyers need to stay on top of listing inventory if they want to get the home of their dreams.  Are you curious to see how much house you can get for your money? Where here’s a sampling of what $250,000, the medium sales price of a home, can get you in the Fredericksburg area. 
 

Fredericksburg City

2101 Washington Ave Fredericksburg VA 22401

 

$239,900 – 2101 Washington Ave 

Listed by C21 New Millennium 

4 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, off-street parking, close to schools, canal path, and Rt.1 

Sold “as-is”, home warranty provided 

Standard Sale 

 

Stafford County

5 Zinc Drive Fredericksburg, VA 22405

 

$250,000 – 5 Zinc Drive 

Listed by Long and Foster 

5 bedroom, 3.5 bathrooms, hardwood floors, sunroom, finished basement 

Off of Rt. 17 near Geico, convenient to shopping and I-95 

Standard Sale

 

Spotsylvania County

6216 Salisbury Drive Fredericksburg, VA 22553

 

$259,000 – 6216 Salisbury Drive 

Listed by Remax Supercenter 

4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, unfinished basement, over-sized garage 

Off of Courthouse Rd, close to schools and shopping 

Potential Short Sale 

 

Caroline County

18068 Coolidge Lane Bowling Green, VA 22427

 

$249,900 – 18068 Coolidge Lane 

Listed by Virginia Capital Realty, LLC 

4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, upgraded large kitchen, sunroom, basement 

Off of Rt. 301 

REO/ Bank Owned

 

King George

6206 Dawes Drive King George, VA 22458

 

$249,900 – 6206 Dawes Drive 

Listed by Exit Realty Expertise 

3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, granite countertops, extra large family room 

Commute to Fredericksburg or Waldorf, Maryland easily 

Standard Sale

 

 

All information believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.  All data current as of 08/30/2012.  Data subject to change without notification.  Information provided as examples of homes in the $250,000 price range in the Fredericksburg area.  Information pulled from MRIS.  Homes selected for feature at random. 

Interested in seeing more listings in the $250,000 price range?  Interested in scheduling a showing for any of the Featured Properties?  Feel free to contact me at Sarah@SarahiouslySpeaking.com.

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Engagement or Complete Waste of Time?

If you knew the world would end tomorrow, what color socks would you wear?

For the last week I’ve been conducting an experiment on Facebook.  If any of your are friends with a REALTOR(R) you may have noticed that they ask questions like, “How old were you when you bought your first house?” and “Do you make your bed in the morning or leave it a mess?”  Many of these questions get quite a few comments, but I began to wonder why real estate agents were all of a sudden asking their “friends” these, seemingly, meaningless questions.  Do you really care how old your friends were when they bought their first home or if they make their beds?  I’m more interested in how their day is going and than if they know any rock bands whose name starts with the letter G.  So, I ask again, why are real estate agents, and so many of them, all of a sudden asking these types of questions on their Facebook walls?

 

Engagement

There’s actually a pretty simple explanation.  It is 2-fold.  First, Facebook has begun to really learn who you are.  Every time you “like” something or comment on someone’s post, Facebook records that information and adds it to other data it has about you.  They use this information to post advertisements in the side bar and to suggest “friends” to you.  Now, the information is being used to manipulate the order of your News Feed.  That’s right, the more you interact with a “friend” on Facebook, the more likely they are to show up at the top of your News Feed.  Most Facebook users wouldn’t notice this.  Second, businesses and real estate trainers have begun to train agents how to use this to their advantage.  (I use the term advantage very loosely). 

Complete Waste of Time

You may be surprised to learn that real estate trainers are teaching agents to manipulate Facebook for possible monetary gain.  I’m not.  How could an agent gain from being at the top of a News Feed?  In theory, if an agent is at the top of a News Feed, a “friend” is more likely to remember they are an agent and use them to purchase or sell their next home.  There are a great deal of flaws in this theory, in my opinion.  First, it’s real estate.  Not many consumers are buying and selling property enough to be affected by an agent in their News Feed.  It’s not like Target or Freschetta Pizza where a consumer will purchase from these companies perhaps once a week.  Most consumers will be in the real estate market once every 5-7 years.  That’s a lot of questions to ask to have the opportunity to happen to be at the top of a News Feed at the exact moment when someone wants to purchase or sell.  Secondly, these are supposed to be your “friends.”  They should know what you do for a living and remember to consult you for their real estate needs, even if it’s just to give them a referral.  If asking irrelevant questions is the only way to keep in touch with your friends, then you have bigger problems.  Third, many agents have the odd habit of “friending” other agents.  Even if this tactic keeps you at the top of the News Feed, it has nothing to do with how competent you are at selling real estate.  If I am giving a referral to another agent, I could care less that they know that Sally Smith in Kalamazoo, Michigan doesn’t make her bed in the morning.  Making or not making her bed will never be the determining factor of receiving a referral from me.  Fourth, and this piggy backs on my third point, these questions have nothing to do with your abilities as an agent.  It just means you are willing to try anything to possibly get more business.  As a consumer, I’d much rather work with an agent who knows the industry and is able to articulate it to me when I’m ready.  Fifth, this is kind of slimy.  And, it’s kind of cheating the Facebook system.  If you want to engage with people, just engage.  Manipulation tactics will eventually always be discovered and many will feel pretty upset that they were manipulated.  It’s part of the sleaze that I’ve been fighting to eject from the real estate industry. 

Where’s the Value?

What really amazes me is that the trainers who are teaching these tactics don’t actually sell real estate.  They sell subscriptions, webinars, and conferences.  I’d love to see some statistics on agents using these tactics who actually get a client from it.  I mean, if I have 987 comments on my ridiculous questions and I get 1 lead from it, is it worth the time and effort?  Maybe.  But, would that person have used me anyway?  I don’t think many agents will ask, “So, did you decide to hire me because I know your favorite color dragon is purple and green?” 

Why have I taken up this issue?  I just want to call out the people who think clogging my stream with nonsensical questions is a good business tactic in real estate.  I think the intent may be justified, but the tactic is severely lacking.  There’s a problem when the tactic becomes the end product.  It’d be nice if they found a more direct way to ask for business.  If this is the only value you can come up with to give to your followers, friends, and connections, you may want to re-evaluate your line of work.  However, I am really happy to know that you are more than willing to tell me how much you weighed when you bought your first house.  (Yes, I actually asked this question and got responses). 

(Oh, and thank you to my friends who messaged me and asked why I was, all of a sudden, filling their feeds with crazy questions.  Yes, I had been drinking, but there was a reason for the madness). 

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