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Building your brand to last: a customer-centered approach

Building your brand to last: a customer-centered approach

Inman Connect invited NextHome’s CEO James Dwiggins on the main stage to share the story of NextHome and how we continue to strive every day to elevate the experience for real estate buyers and sellers. 

Branding is really about the experience and creating an emotional connection to the business. James explained that where people get branding wrong is they think it’s about the logo but it is not. It’s the entire experience from the minute a customer sees the logo, then working with an agent, and all the way to the end of a transaction and beyond.

An important component in understanding branding is to realize that the real estate industry is struggling for relevance with buyers and sellers. Customers are questioning the value proposition of brokers and agents including the rates that they charge.

“When we set out to create NextHome, we had a focus on creating a brand that was relevant for the customers themselves. It’s about what the buyers and sellers want from the experience,” explained James.

That is easier said than done in an industry that is myopically focused on what agents want or need. James and the NextHome team partnered with Pentagram, a prestigious design company in New York City, to research and study how to change the brand experience and create a connection.  

“For example, one of the things that we created was a really cute French Bulldog mascot named Luke that was designed to change the conversation,” elaborated James about NextHome’s friendly icon. “When a customer walks into an office, we want them to say ‘what’s up with the orange dog?’ because it sets a whole different tone and interaction from the very beginning.”

For James, branding should be viewed as a shift in focus from what real estate agents do to generating an interaction with customers that is distinctive. NextHome encourages agents to hand out a plush version of Luke to kids, who then take the little Frenchie through the entire buying or selling process.

The real estate industry, in James’s opinion, is awful at promoting branding as an experience for customers. He pointed out that if people look at some of the biggest brands in real estate, they will see 17,000 different versions of a company’s logo including versions with different colors. Without consistency, there is not a cohesive message about the company itself and people don’t make a connection to it all.

Maintaining consistency across a brand is not easy. NextHome makes sure that everything the team has worked so hard to create goes all the way through the brokers and agents to the customer without getting diluted.  

“We took a stance at the beginning of the company,” James confirmed, “about the minimum standards that we would do. Business cards, for example, come from one organization so agents can’t create their own at a local print shop.”

NextHome preserves the quality of their beautiful, rounded-edge cards, and while agents and brokers can customize some of it for autonomy and their own personal branding, it must tie back into the national brand. The same goes for all their products from stationary to yard signs.

“For us, we want to make sure that 3,500 members across the United States maintain the same level of professionalism out in the market whether it’s in Portland, Oregon or on Madison Ave in New York,” James explained.

NextHome stands behind that philosophy but they understand that it’s not for everyone.  They are clear about their expectations and what they do. If someone doesn’t want to be a part of it, then there are lots of other companies out there to work with.

“What we have found by maintaining our high branding standards,” James reported, “is that we are attracting a lot more professional people into our company. As a result, customers do not question what we are providing as a service because they don’t see mediocre material.”

The level of consistency doesn’t just stop at stationary and business cards but continues all the way through their business model. James remarked that the same amount of effort that an agent puts into listing a $500,000 home should also be made when listing a $100,000 home. Customers will notice the consistency of effort or lack thereof.  Consistency within your own personal brand is another component to creating that brand experience.  

In today’s world, real estate companies are either all about their agents or, like Zillow, customer-centered. In the end, it will be the companies that are focused on the needs of the customer that will win according to James. Listening to what the customers want is integral to long term success.

“Take yard signs as an example. Most real estate yard signs advertise the agent.  However, that’s not what customers want. Sellers want their house promoted while buyers want to know the pertinent details of the listing as they drive by,” James commented.

NextHome listened and designed their signs to display the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and garage spaces. The agent’s information is secondary. It’s a relatively simple concept but it has a very big impact on how a company is viewed by customers.

“The industry has to start shifting to a customer-focused model or entities like Zillow will continue to disrupt us and change the primary person a customer will talk to,” advised James about the direction the industry should be headed.

At the end of the day, NextHome measures their branding success in smiles. James doesn’t want NextHome to be a company that people use for only a period of time but instead, be a brand that people keep thinking about and connecting with long after the real estate transaction is complete.  

Great branding is about changing the real estate conversation to a customer-centric experience through the use of consistency and a little mascot called Luke.

Doing business the heart way: bridging humanity and technology

Doing business the heart way: bridging humanity and technology

The NextHome leadership team brought a touch of orange to Inman Connect this week. Tuesday’s sessions ended with an inspiring talk from NextHome’s Chief Strategy Officer Keith Robinson. No better way to wrap up Tech Connect than to bring it all back to the humans we serve every day.

Keith brought a bit of humanity back to the tech-focused seminars by reminding brokers and agents that the next step in the evolution of real estate agents isn’t robots. Tech Connect showcases lots of tech edge and content which is great on many levels but can feel threatening on others.

Keith focused on Zillow, Opendoor, and Amazon as examples of technology dimensions that encourage the idea that real estate agents are becoming extraneous to the residential real estate world. However, nothing can be farther from the truth.

He highlighted the data behind why fears of these entities are unfounded. Opendoor, for example, does 2/10th of 1% of all real estate transactions. Fear from such a market share just isn’t logical but the concern is real.  

“I get it,” remarked Keith. “When you lose a listing to Opendoor, it’s 100% of that listing. However, does the fear we have really equal the threat these companies potentially present? I don’t think so.”

With the augmented reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence in the market today, it can feel like humans are irrelevant. Keith thoughtfully suggested that this is a real estate business, not a technology business. He encouraged agents and brokers to do what they do best – connect to people!

“We often forget about all the microtransactions and macro transactions that we have with human beings every day,” Keith noted about not only retail sales but real estate as well.  

He encouraged everyone to realize there are so many things that technology can’t do. For instance, it can’t give someone that first-time homeowner hug. Technology doesn’t make the real estate process personal.

“The intimacy and the connection while shepherding someone through their transaction just isn’t something that technology can do yet. Technology won’t be reviewing a 300-page inspection report for their buyer,” emphasized Keith.

Brokers and agents are in the business of helping people get what they really want out of life and out of their real estate. According to Keith, it’s all about the smiles, the genuine smiles that come from people helping people buy or sell their home. Technology simply won’t replace that.

“I love this industry. I love that we get to help people. We get to make those genuine moments happen for them. When we remember that and don’t lose sight of that, it won’t matter who partners with Amazon or what next ‘scary’ thing they are going to announce,” explained Keith about keeping the focus on the humans we serve.

Keith challenged his audience and the real estate world to put #humansoverhouses. It’s not about consumers but the human beings who are buying and selling homes. That’s what will resonate so tell their story.

Share on social media about the perseverance of that first time homebuyer that put in fifteen offers before they won. Spread the word about how selling a house helped a woman get exactly what she wanted out of life.

Keith supports that if brokers and agents remain focused on the human connection, there are no threats in the real estate industry. Technology then becomes something that supports the #humansoverhouses connection. He inspired the Inman Connect audience to tell the story of residential real estate and the humans involved.

“That’s how we can all win!” exclaimed Keith at the end of his presentation. Join Keith in promoting #humansoverhouses by sharing your stories of the humans that make real estate great.

Get Your Money’s Worth: Making the Most of Your Franchise Relationship

Get Your Money’s Worth: Making the Most of Your Franchise Relationship

The NextHome leadership team shared insights at Inman Connect 2019 in Las Vegas. Vice President of Sales Charis Moreno spoke with brokers on Tuesday about why independents often choose to franchise and how they can make the best of the relationship. She had valuable insights for everyone attending #ICLV!

Charis noted that independent brokers have to wear all the hats. They must face the struggles in the real estate industry on their own. When they partner with the right franchise, however, it not only gives brokers a real sense of belonging and confidence, but also the ability to network for support in order to overcome their pain points.

Franchises often have the buying power to leverage the continuity between the different technology dimensions in real estate in order to achieve better marketing and brand equity. Charis also pointed out that it’s not just about seeking the latest and greatest in real estate technology.   

“I think there is a race in real estate to create automation and integration in an industry that is all about people. There is a delicate balance between the technology that you pour in front of an agent and using that technology to support the agent in filling the gaps in their business in order for them to grow,” Charis explained.  

The use of technology to support a business’s growth begs the question, how can a broker increase the adoption rate of new technology? Charis suggested automating what the agents already do on a daily basis like flyers, postcards, etc. by providing something that is beautiful and easy to create with just the click of a button.

“It’s really about less screen time and more face time for agents. We have a philosophy at NextHome that the only way to get a human being to do something 100% of the time is to do it for them,” Charis remarked.

Adoption is about using the most effective technology to keep agents focused on what they are really good at which is the human connection. According to Charis, the brand will get you a seat at the table but, at the end of the day, it’s the other human across the table that will help the buyer or seller achieve their ultimate goal of buying or selling their next home. It’s an outlook that has NextHome achieving over 70% technology adoption rate. 

Charis’ deep understanding of how technology can be applied to helping brokers and agents become more productive and successful in today’s real estate environment is one of the many reasons why NextHome, and it’s franchisees are growing so quickly.

In the end, the choice of a broker using a franchise or going independent is up to them and how they want to grow their business. It’s important to consider that paying fees for a franchise isn’t about cost as it is about investing in the future of their real estate pursuits.

Let’s talk!

Tips for picking a brokerage for the long haul

Tips for picking a brokerage for the long haul

The NextHome leadership team took over Inman Connect this week. On Tuesday, Vice President Imran Poladi shared tips on how agents should do some self-analysis and pay attention to the details when picking the right brokerage for the long haul, making sure they’re getting the solutions they need to grow their business. 

As a noted International Speaker and Trainer, Imran has taught tens of thousands of real estate professionals throughout the world. He understands the importance of connecting with a versatile brokerage that will support personal and professional growth long into the future.

Imran encouraged agents to seek a brokerage that has strong branding because it goes much further than just building a culture within their business.

“Cultures come and go. When you truly have what is more like DNA, it is the fabric of who you are and who your company is. That means that we ensure our franchise brokerages and agents hold true to NextHome’s high expectations about branding,” explained Imran.

All brokers make promises about what they will offer agents and seeing beyond that veneer can be challenging. When looking at a new brokerage, Imran advised agents to pay careful attention to the details. Notice how a brokerage executes their branding, especially across different dimensions. If they aren’t delivering on branding, perhaps there are other areas that lack follow-through as well.  

Since branding starts from the top-down, Imran’s Luke socks were the perfect fit for the #ICLV session!

Imran knocked the audience’s socks off at this week’s Inman Connect

But noticing the details is only the beginning. Having profound expertise in training all the new NextHome brokers, Imran suggested seeking a broker who has a plan and examples of other agents who have been in similar scenarios. Those cases can help agents see where they are able to grow their business. Sometimes agents don’t know what they don’t know and finding a broker who wants to help new agents beyond just getting them on board is invaluable. 

“Find a broker who won’t just open the door to let you in but also opens your door every day to make sure that you are doing it right,” urged Imran.

Imran recommended agents take the time for a bit of self-analysis to avoid many of the common pitfalls of seeking a new brokerage. Agents should want a brokerage that is with them for the long haul.

“Not understanding where you are at in your business and where you are looking to go won’t help you ask the right questions so that your needs and values line up with what a broker will offer to you,” he added. 

As an industry expert, Imran knows that finding a brokerage isn’t an easy process but with a little self-reflection and recognizing how little details can showcase a company’s motivation for follow-through, agents can find a place that will knock their socks off as well as grow their business. 

Meet the NextHomies who made the top one-half percent

Meet the NextHomies who made the top one-half percent

Kimberly Taylor and Pete Torsiello

Pleasanton, CA — June 28, 2019 — NextHome is thrilled to announce that two NextHomies made The Thousand list that highlights the top one-half percent of the nation’s real estate professionals.

The Thousand list is put together every year by REAL Trends, a trusted source for news, analysis, and information on the residential brokerage industry. The list ranks the top real estate agents and teams in the United States, by both sales volume and transaction sides. The ranking is in partnership with Tom Ferry International and advertised in The Wall Street Journal.

The Thousand list is broken evenly into four categories:

  • Individual Sales Professionals – Sales volume
  • Individual Sales Professionals – Transaction sides 
  • Team Professionals – Sales volume
  • Team Professionals – Transaction sides

The two NextHomies on the list both ranked in the sales volume category for individual agents, and we couldn’t be more proud. Congratulations to Kimberly Taylor of NextHome First Class and Pete Torsiello of NextHome Community Real Estate! 

Kimberly and Pete are not only leaders in the industry, but also at NextHome. The two have graciously shared their vast knowledge from the field at industry events, and on a ground level, assisting other members one-on-one. 

Kimberly Taylor is the owner of NextHome First Class based out of Freeport, Illinois. Licensed since 2001, she has always been an early adopter of cutting-edge technology and constant education. With her commitment to providing first-class service to her clients, Kimberly has steadily built her business year-over-year as one of the best agents in her area.

Kimberly has a team of support staff to help her with her transactions but makes sure that each of her clients gets a personal and custom real estate experience. With her hands-on approach, her listings usually go under contract in under 60 days – half of the average days on market of competitors’ listings.

Pete Torsiello is the partial owner of NextHome Community Real Estate that is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. Pete started his real estate career in 2008 after 15 years in the sports memorabilia business. Initially, he began selling homes as a side project, but after quickly earning more business than he could handle, Pete converted to full-time real estate in 2010.

NextHome Community Real Estate is more than just the name of the brokerage. Pete and the company are very involved in the Las Vegas community with a focus on working with teachers.

Please join us in congratulating both Kimberly and Pete on their success. We can only imagine the amount of happiness they’ve shared with their clients by helping them find their next home. 

Interested in being a part of the NextHome Real Estate Franchise? Contact VP of Sales Charis Moreno at Charis@NextHome.com.

Each office is an independently owned and operated business.

NextHome CEO James Dwiggins Named Industry ‘Futurist’

NextHome CEO James Dwiggins Named Industry ‘Futurist’

We are thrilled to announce that our Chief Executive Officer, James Dwiggins, was named industry ‘Futurist’ in RISMedia’s 2019 Class of Real Estate Newsmakers, a notable recognition highlighting a dynamic group of key influencers making headlines as a result of their newsworthy contributions to the real estate industry, and their efforts to positively affect the consumers and communities they serve.

RISMedia, the leader in U.S. real estate news and information services, announced the 2019 Class of more than 230 Real Estate Newsmakers on Dec. 3 in both an online directory on RISMedia.com and in the December issue of its flagship publication, Real Estate magazine.

With an aim to be a revolutionary franchise in real estate, NextHome has presented high-tech capabilities and innovative approaches that help agents and brokers harmonize the modern real estate landscape with the needs and demands of today’s buyers and sellers. Dwiggins introduces a forward-focused vision to NextHome, bringing inventiveness to the industry through groundbreaking technologies and synergetic strategies to support NextHome franchises nationwide.

“NextHome has a commitment to making a positive, lasting impression in the real estate industry. As professionals and industry thought leaders, we have a responsibility to keep our communities, consumers and other industry professionals cognizant of and well-versed in real estate news,” said Dwiggins. “To be recognized as a ‘Futurist’ on behalf of RISMedia for having this deep-rooted sense of responsibility to our communities, well, it is truly an honor for NextHome.”

The industry luminaries included in RISMedia Real Estate Newsmakers of 2019 are selected by the publication’s editors through a vetting process that helps identify individuals who headline in the topics of industry advancements, technology achievements, diversity and inclusion, humanitarian efforts, creativity and innovativeness, industry activism, and many others.

“In RISMedia’s Real Estate Newsmakers, you’ll find an inspirational overview of more than 230 industry leaders who are making a difference in the real estate and homeownership sectors, and whose actions have a far-reaching and profound impact on the real estate industry, from nationwide to their own local communities,” said John Featherston, CEO and Publisher of RISMedia. “You’ll meet the thought leaders and the icons. The heroes and the champions of a better way. The ones who are breaking the mold and the ones who are leading the industry forward.”

The nominee categories include Influencers, Trailblazers, Futurists, Achievers, Crusaders, Inspirations, Luminaries, and Trendsetters.

“Being named a luminary in the industry marks a whole new milestone for myself and my NextHome team,” added Dwiggins. “My hope is to continue setting the benchmark for others in our industry, always keeping our members and consumers top-of-mind, while delivering to our communities the most valued and relevant data and communications they can utilize.”

In less than four years, Dwiggins has led NextHome to grow to over 320 offices in 43 states. His modern real estate franchise model is committed to ensuring every member has the marketing and technology resources necessary for continued and professional growth, as well as maintaining relevancy in the future.

The numbers are in… Meet the NextHomies who made “The Thousand”

The numbers are in… Meet the NextHomies who made “The Thousand”

To know where you are going, it’s also important to know where you stand.

Each year, REAL Trends put together the ultimate ranking of top real estate agents and top real estate teams in the United States, both by transaction sides and by sales volume. Advertised in The Wall Street Journal, the list is called The Thousand.

NextHome is thrilled to announce that many of our hardworking NextHomies were featured in the 2018 report. We congratulate each and every one of them on this accomplishment! Thinking about all of the happy clients who found their next home by working with one of our members brings a smile to our faces. It’s an honor having such caring, passionate and committed real estate professionals in our orange family!

America’s Best | 2018 Individuals by Sides

Kimberly Taylor NextHome First Class Freeport IL
David Connart NextHome White Sands Destin FL
William Alt NextHome Integrity Las Vegas NV
Lisa Caron NextHome Experience Swanville ME
Ben Andrews NextHome Willamette Realty Clackamas OR
Tanya Scott NextHome SoMo Life Joplin MO
Lionel Cruz NextHome City Life Realty Jersey City NJ
Brian Hanson NextHome Partners Wisconsin Rapids WI
Deborah Rainforth NextHome NW Realty Portland OR
Amy Perrine NextHome Perrine & Associates Realty Sturgeon Lake MN
Yvette Sloan NextHome Yvette Sloan Middletown CA
Harold Chappell NextHome Cape Fear Wilmington NC
Denise Pippin NextHome Fredricksen Real Estate Williston ND
Keith Wilkes NextHome Partners Wisconsin Rapids WI
Brian J. Johnson NextHome Innovators Wichita KS
Vicky Santana NextHome Santana Real Estate Vero Beach FL
Warren Ross NextHome Legacy Group Realty Marion IN
Nick Vlasidis NextHome Experience (Ohio) Worthington OH
Rhonda Plake NextHome Heartland Realty Stillwater OK
Jennifer Jennings NextHome Realty Solutions BCS College Station TX

America’s Best | 2018 Individuals by Volume

Jaya Joshi NextHome Premier Realty Group Danville CA
Ben Andrews NextHome Willamette Realty Clackamas OR
David Connart NextHome White Sands Destin FL
William Alt NextHome Integrity Las Vegas NV
Kimberly Taylor NextHome First Class Freeport IL
Jason Kerner NextHome Premier Realty Group Danville CA

America’s Best | 2018 Teams by Sides

Team Geotes NextHome E-Realty Gulfport MS
PDX Team NextHome Realty Connection Portland OR
Amarillo Team NextHome Coldiron Group Amarillo TX
Michael Pion Group NextHome Capital Realty Camp Hill PA
Antonucci Team NextHome Destination Bozeman MT

America’s Best | 2018 Teams by Volume

PDX Team NextHome Realty Connection Portland OR
Michael Pion Group NextHome Capital Realty Camp Hill PA
Who Needs a Home Warranty? You Do! Here’s Why.

Who Needs a Home Warranty? You Do! Here’s Why.

Home warranties can reduce repair costs, especially if you have older appliances or need-to-repair home systems. Learn how you can benefit.

You may ask yourself, why should I invest in a home warranty? When managing your household budget, there are many important considerations and numerous resources. Maybe your New Year’s resolutions include looking for new ways to save money and be frugal as you get your finances back on track after the holidays.

Learn how a home warranty can help save you money on repair costs for appliances or home systems. Here are a few things to think about:

Older appliances and systems

Do you ever hold your breath and keep your fingers crossed that your refrigerator, stove or air conditioner will make it through the year? You know it could be a big expense and a hit to your budget. A home warranty can help ease your mind in knowing when an unexpected breakdown happens, you have a plan in place. A home warranty is a service contract that covers repair and replacement costs of the covered items in your contract. You pay a monthly or annual fee for your coverage and usually a set trade service fee when a service technician comes to your home.

Considering a home sale or purchase.

Often home warranties come into play during a real estate transaction. Sellers find them advantageous because they are attractive to buyers and help give buyers more confidence in their purchase. Also, as a buyer, it is an excellent feature to help with unexpected repair costs once you are in your new home. Wouldn’t you rather spend money on decorating rather than fixing things? You can ask a real estate professional about adding a home warranty to a transaction.

Budget conscious.​

If you are not a fan of big unexpected expenses, a home warranty may appeal to you. You can weigh the advantages of the annual home warranty cost compared to the potential expense of a big repair or replacement. Replacing a major home system without a home warranty can result in thousands of dollars in an out-of-pocket expense.

Locating a reputable contractor.

If you’re like most of us, the plumbing breaks or your refrigerator goes dark typically when it’s most inconvenient. You start Googling repair people or reach out to friends and family to see what they recommend. You may even spend time reading reviews. Then, if you want to compare estimates, you try to schedule a few people to come out and may even pay a fee for each visit. Plus, scheduling people can be a challenge in itself. A home warranty helps eliminate this part of the process because when you make a claim, your home warranty company connects you with independent service contractors or technicians who can help solve your problem.

For the things homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover.

Homeowners’ insurance is different than a home warranty. A home warranty is a service contract to pay for the repair or replacement of covered items, such as your appliances, plumbing or HVAC systems. Homeowners insurance covers losses if your home and its contents are damaged due to theft, fire or certain natural disasters. They complement one another for more comprehensive home protection.

Not all home warranty companies are equal. Look to see how many years they have been in business and how many dollars they have paid in claims made by homeowners. Look at their network of skilled professional contractors. Also, look at their industry awards. American Home Shield® is a home warranty leader providing protection for 45 years with a large network of service professionals and is consistently awarded by HomeWarrantyReviews.com

For more helpful tips, visit the American Home Shield® Home Matters blog.

Tackling a Kitchen Makeover on a Budget

Tackling a Kitchen Makeover on a Budget

Has this ever happened to you? You’re standing at the counter chopping vegetables, your eyes filled with tears, when suddenly, it hits you. It’s not the onions that are making you cry. It’s your kitchen.

It’s old. It’s blah. It’s the same old that you’ve been looking at for too many years to count.

So, what can you do about it? A full-on kitchen remodel is really expensive and really difficult. (Any divorce attorney will tell you huge remodels are great for business.) But luckily, there is a cure for the hate-this-kitchen blues. Introducing the BCR, the Big Cheap Redo, also known as a DIY kitchen makeover on a budget.

The Big Cheap Redo shouldn’t drain your savings or ruin your marriage. A successful BCR requires creativity, research and planning, not a big bank account.

DIY Kitchen Makeover: Go Cheap or Go Home

Start your low-cost, low-stress remodel off right with discounted DIY magazines from your favorite used bookstore. Or execute the perfect BCR move and go one step cheaper by spending a couple of hours at your local library perusing the magazine section.

Of course, the handiest tool in your Big Cheap Redo kit is exactly where you are right now, the wonderful world of the World Wide Web. You’ll find plenty of innovative, inexpensive ideas online at thousands of websites, from Pinterest to DoItYourself.com. Create a BCR folder on your desktop, fire up your favorite search engine with the words “kitchen remodel cheap” and get ready for a lot of clicking and saving.

The Starting Line

Paint

There’s no faster, cheaper way to get from, “I hate my life!” to “I love my new kitchen!” than a splash of great color. Fresh paint can instantly turn your blahs to wows without having to take out a second mortgage. If you can’t replace the cabinets, repaint them. Or go the minimalist route and just paint the back wall of the cabinets to add a visual pop every time you open a door.

Backsplash, tile and countertops

Hate your dingy, dinged-up old countertops? Do a quick search for local companies that sell surplus building supplies. Or, visit the nearest Habitat for Humanity ReStore, a nonprofit clearance center for new and gently used appliances, home accessories and building materials.

If your budget can’t quite stretch enough to cover new countertops, focus instead on replacing the backsplash to bring new color and texture into your kitchen.

Cabinet doors

On? Or off? When it comes to cabinet doors, you decide. Try removing one cabinet door to see if you like having dishes, cups and glasses on display. If you don’t like it, you can always put the doors back on and start looking for the right paint or design element to spruce up old cabinets.

Hardware and handles

Talk about cheap thrills! High-impact decorative hardware can be found everywhere. Whether you’re shopping online, in hardware or craft stores, at thrift stores or estate sales, discovering the perfect drawer pulls for cheap can be more fun than a treasure hunt.

Faucets and sinks

Once again, building surplus stores and nonprofits such as ReStore can help you score an affordable upgrade on a kitchen sink. Also, spend some time scrolling through websites such as DealYard, FaucetDirect and Overstock.

Want it even cheaper? With a little patience and persistence, you could benefit from someone else’s Big Cheap Redo. Drop in on sites such as Craig’s List and NextDoor to find garage sales and estate sales in your area. Both websites also have a “free items” page, too. You never know what’ll turn up, so keep clicking!

Recovering

Can’t afford new kitchen chairs or counter stools? Take a paintbrush to them or freshen them up with new cushions or upholstery. If you’re crafty and artistically inclined, you can transform that same old, same old kitchen table with new paint or stain, add stenciled designs or even try your hand at a tile or glass mosaic.

Lights

One of the fastest, cheapest ways to change the look of your kitchen is to change the lighting. Even different kinds of light bulbs can make a huge difference in a room. Again, discount and surplus stores often carry fixtures, ceiling fans and simple utility lights at great prices. Puck lights (shaped like hockey pucks) are terrific for dark corners, and some are battery-powered, so no electrician required. The bulbs in puck lights are LEDs, which means they last a long time and they don’t overheat. Rope lights, also LEDs, are another inexpensive way to add a warm glow to your kitchen.

For more helpful tips, visit the American Home Shield® Home Matters blog.

Common Inspection Issues and How Your Clients Can Avoid Them

Common Inspection Issues and How Your Clients Can Avoid Them

We’ve put together a list of some of the most common issues found during home inspections and the remedies sellers should expect to make to help keep their sale on track.

As a Real Estate Professional, you know almost nothing can derail a real estate transaction faster than a home inspection. But very few buyers waive the inspection and when problems are identified and mitigated, it can actually boost confidence in their purchase decision. In fact, a 2012 survey conducted by the American Society of Home Inspectors found that 88 percent of respondents said home inspections increased their confidence about the condition of the property.

An inspection from a qualified home inspector can benefit sellers, too, if they do it prior to listing. In fact, AmeriSpec®, a leader in real estate home inspections, says that sellers who’ve had a pre-listing inspection may sell their homes more quickly and with fewer surprises.

Whether sellers decide to have a pre-listing inspection themselves or wait for a buyer’s home inspection, issues will likely come up either way. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of some of the most common issues found during home inspections and the remedies sellers should expect to make to help keep their sale on track.

Roof Problems

Often, you don’t have to be an inspector to notice brittle or curled shingles, and broken or missing flashings. But when inspectors note these items, HUGE dollar signs immediately come to a buyer’s mind.

If this is found during the inspection, sellers should expect to apply new shingles. If they have more than three layers from re-roofing, it may be necessary to tear off and replace flashing that’s damaged or missing, particularly around chimneys.

Remind sellers to take care of any indoor evidence of roof leaks too, like brown rings on drywall, or peeled or discolored paint on a bedroom ceiling. Even if the roof was repaired long ago, these telltale signs set off alarm bells for buyers and inspectors.

Leaky Gutters

Not surprisingly, gutter issues often go hand-in-hand with roof problems, and this is something sellers should be managing with proper preventative maintenance long before they are even thinking about listing.

If it comes up during inspection, sellers may have to replace inadequate downspouts or re-direct away from the house/foundation. They should also be prepared to clean clogged gutters and replace any gutters that are bent or are pulling away from the roofline.

Foundation Concerns

Even to the untrained eye, foundation issues can be fairly obvious. They reveal themselves with distinct cracks, sloping floors, and sticking doors or windows. Depending on the type of problem, sellers can sometimes remedy them fairly easily and with little expense. At times, all that’s required is filling cracks with silicon caulking or epoxy, and/or applying waterproofing coating to the exterior to seal. Naturally, if there are serious structural concerns, other professionals will need to come in and make recommendations with estimates. You can then help advise your clients and negotiate on their behalf with buyers.

Termite Damage

Depending on the season and which part of the country your sellers live in, termites can be a real problem. Fortunately, these sellers need not wait for a buyer’s home inspection to head this off at the pass. Before listing, sellers should hire a pest control service like Terminix® to take care of the problem right away. The sooner the better, because acting quickly could prevent additional damage, added cost, and could potentially reduce the risk of scaring away buyers during the inspection phase.

Dampness in the Basement

Even a layperson can usually detect moisture problems in a basement simply by looking around. Obvious water stains, powdery residue on walls, mold or mildew are a dead giveaway. If it’s less obvious to buyers, inspectors will likely note it on their report. If it does come up in the inspection, sellers should be ready to apply waterproof coatings to the area and repair or reposition gutters to channel away from the house. (Believe it or not, gutters are one of the most common causes of damp basements).

Faulty Wiring

Homeowners often become complacent about problems and simply learn to live with issues, rather than fixing them. Things like exposed outlets, open junction boxes, mismatched amperage, and no wire nuts on wires are the kinds of common wiring issues detected during home inspections. These items are fairly simple and may just require sellers to repair junction boxes and upgrade to at least 100 amps.

Poor Plumbing

Inadequate water pressure, slow drains, and signs of leaks on ceilings are very common discoveries during home inspections. The remedies are pretty straightforward, too. Owners should clean and rout drains; reseal toilets with new wax rings as needed, repair leaks, and repair/re-paint if there was remaining leak damage.

Inadequate Heating/Cooling

Improper installations, inadequate maintenance and aged components are common. It’s also not unusual for inspectors to point out cracks in the heat exchange or water tank. They can even sometimes find troubling carbon monoxide leaks. Sometimes, poor insulation and poor ventilation can also be noted and related to the lack of comfort in the home. Depending on what’s discovered during the inspection, owners should be prepared to replace the sacrificial anode in their water heater, reseal chimney flues, add insulation and replace any items that are cracked, leaking or improperly installed.

If a big-ticket item like a whole new furnace or a/c unit is needed, then that can be negotiated between parties.

With an AHS® Real Estate Home Warranty, sellers can help mitigate unexpected covered issues from the home inspection to keep the sale on track.* Plus, AHS Real Estate Home Warranties offer buyers good faith and assurances that the home is covered for the first year of ownership. If a listing isn’t already covered by a home warranty, buyers can add their own post-purchase. That way they can focus on making their new house their home rather than worrying about pre-existing issues.

The bottom line is, nothing beats regular maintenance when it comes to having your clients’ homes market-ready. If they choose to forego a pre-listing inspection, AmeriSpec offers helpful resources on home ownership and maintenance that can benefit your sellers, plus tips for Real Estate Professionals like you.

With this information at the ready, you can now alert sellers about what to expect during the home inspection and help them go from “for sale” to “sold” with ease.

For more helpful tips, visit the American Home Shield® Home Matters blog.

*Subject to $2,000 cap for all trades during listing period.