Buying a House as a Police Officer, Firefighter, or EMT

Police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and teachers give so much to our country. They selflessly put their lives on the line to protect us, take care of our children, and help us accomplish our dreams. So it’s only right that they have the same opportunity to achieve their own American dream of buying a home.

Unfortunately, even though these public servants are working tirelessly in essential roles, they often have a difficult time purchasing property. Too often, it’s just out of reach financially.

The good news is that thanks to a range of public and governmental programs, these public servants have more opportunities than ever to buy a house at affordable rates and through a simplified process. There are options for tax breaks, down payment help, subsidized mortgage interest, and reduced closing costs. It’s all about making homes for heroes a realistic venture. Let’s talk about what’s available!

Mortgage Loan Assistance

There are many different private home loans for teachers, health care professionals, and rescue workers, and law enforcement personnel. These loans typically offer the lowest mortgage rates possible—though it’s still important to shop lenders to find the best deal.

One such program is Freddie Mac’s Home Possible Program, which offers first responder home loans that finance up to 100% of the purchase price. There are also similar programs offered through Fannie Mae and many other private banks. We recommend checking with lenders in your area.

You should also check with your state and/or city to see if there are similar programs. For example:

  • New Jersey offers first responders a discounted mortgage rate that can be up to a full percentage point less than the market rate
  • Alaska has a program for health care and school workers that finances 100% of a home’s purchase price and includes subsidized interest rates

Mortgage Credit

Beyond lower interest rates and financing 100% of your home, the IRS offers Mortgage Credit Certificates (MCCs) to help make homes for heroes easier to purchase. This credit differs from state to state but can enable teachers, police, firefighters, and EMTs to buy a more expensive house with the same income.

How does it work?

An MCC allows you to deduct your mortgage interest and gives you credit against tax liabilities. This means that your lender will subtract the credit from your house payment when calculating your debt-to-income ratio so that you can get a larger loan.

For example, let’s say you get a 20% MCC and you paid $15k in interest over the last year. That’s a credit of $3k per year, or $250 per month. That means that you can afford a home loan that’s $250 per month more expensive than otherwise.

Teacher Next Door’s First Time Buyer Program

Thanks to the Teacher Next Door’s First Time Buyer Program, there are home loans for teachers, firefighters, EMTs, and police officers only. What does this program include specifically?

  • $0 in application fees and up-front pre-approval
  • Low down payment options and down payment assistance
  • Closing costs grants
  • Home loan assistance

This program was designed to increase home ownership for specific public servants and to streamline the home buying process. As for the grants for police officers to buy homes and others, they do not have to be repaid and are subject to availability.

HUD Good Neighbor Next Door Program

Finally, there’s the Good Neighbor Next Door program offered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This program provides full-time firefighters, law enforcement professionals, teachers, and EMTs homes at 50% of their value. That means you pay monthly mortgage payments on just $150,000 for a $300,000 house ($850 versus $1600 per month).

How does it work?

  • Buyers have to be willing to live in the property for at least three years
  • The property must be located in a HUD designated area, which refers to a Revitalization Area as determined by home ownership rates, average household income, and FHA foreclosure activity

To learn about additional assistance programs for public servants, contact Coldwell Banker today. Our real estate agents can help you find the perfect home for you.

Posted on March 22, 2018 at 4:35 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Buyers, buying | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Homeownership Achieved

Posted on March 21, 2018 at 9:18 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Buyers, Homeowners | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Size Matters: Finding the Perfect Size Home for You


If you’re house shopping, there’s probably one question that’s been on your mind often: “What size home should I buy?” At a glance, the answer seems obvious: as big as you can afford! But that’s only a small piece of the puzzle. Home size matters on many levels from personal preference to resale value, future plans, your budget, and more.

How do you find the ideal home size for you and your family? Here are three things you need to consider:

The Truth About Square Footage

A foot is a foot, right? When it comes to the square footage of your future home that may not be the case. Measuring the size of a house isn’t incredibly precise. More often than not, the size will change depending on which appraiser is measuring and what mechanism they’re using to determine the square footage: measuring tape, laser measure, or eyeball. The reality is that there are no universal standards when it comes to measuring your home size.

What does this mean for you? You need to choose your home size not by the numbers but by the feel. Don’t put too much stock in the listing size on paper, but instead find out in person if each room, bathroom, and living area is large enough for your needs. It’s not about how other individuals answer the question, “What is a good sized house?” It’s about you, your family, and how big a place feels in person.

Your Budget

While your budget isn’t the only thing you should consider, it needs to be one of the critical factors in determining your ideal home size. And that may be little more complicated than you think. What matters when it comes to your budget?

  • Loan Size: The larger the house, the more expensive—most of the time. Make sure the average house size of your real estate listings fits with your pre-approved loan budget.
  • Monthly Budget: Large houses are expensive to keep up. As you increase your square footage expect to pay more in electricity, water, gas, cleaning, and more. If you have a tight allocation for monthly expenses, don’t go overboard on a large house without factoring in these other costs.
  • Your Future: Are you planning to have more kids? Do you need a new car? Are you counting on getting a raise at work? If you’re expecting your financial situation to change, make sure your home budget fits the modifications.

Your Preferences and Needs

Your particular wants and needs should have the most significant impact on the home you choose. Make sure you’re truthful and honest with yourself about your expectations and needs. For example, if you eat out regularly and hate cooking, there’s no need to spend on a gourmet kitchen! You’d be better served looking for a home with a smaller kitchen and a bigger living room.

To help you determine your preferences, here are ten questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Do you like small and cozy or do you need room to spread out?
  2. How many people are in your family and how much space does each person need?
  3. Do you have any hobbies or jobs that require extra space? (If you work from home, you’ll need an office. If cars are a passion, you’ll want a more substantial garage)
  4. How often do you have visitors over? (If you have parties every few weeks and relatives visit a few times a year, you might want more space for guests)
  5. Are you planning to have more kids or have an elderly relative move in with you?
  6. What size of house have you been excited about in the past?
  7. How much storage do you need? (Closet space and built-ins can be a big space saver)
  8. How large is your furniture, and how much do you have? (If you have a king-sized bed, you want a big master bedroom)
  9. What’s your five-year plan? (Upgrading your home to a larger size can be difficult; make sure the home you choose can last for years)
  10. How much outdoor space do I want?

For additional help, check out, “What size home should I buy?

The key to purchasing the right-sized home for you is being realistic. Make sure you really sit down with your family to discuss what you need, want, and can afford. Then, ask your local Coldwell Banker real estate agent to help you search for the perfect sized house for you.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on March 19, 2018 at 9:48 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Buyers, buying | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Speedy Home Sales: Top 5 Things Buyers Were Looking for in 2017

Are you are curious to know what it takes for your community to see speedy home sales in 2018? In order to determine what makes home sales happen quickly, as agents, we look at the patterns. We compile the data and compare it, year over year. So if you are wondering what it takes to sell your home quickly in 2018 or “What did the homes that sold in Petoskey in 2017 in 30 days or fewer have in common?” we can tell you that.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the top five things buyers were looking for these past 12 months.

1. Square Footage

Twenty-seven homes sold in Petoskey in less than 30 days in 2017. On average, these homes were built at around 1,500 square feet. Median square footage was 1,470 square feet. About half of the homes had basements (not included in the square footage measurements).

According to an article by the National Association of Home Builders, the NAHB, national averages in new builds has been around 2,600 square feet since 2016 and on a steady increase.

The article stated that: “The post-recession increase in single-family home size is consistent with the historical pattern coming out of recessions. Typical new home size falls prior to and during a recession as some home buyers tighten budgets, and then sizes rise as high-end home buyers, who face fewer credit constraints, return to the housing market in relatively greater proportions.”

For our purposes, the homes we are talking about that sold in 2017, were not new builds. In fact, at least one of the homes was built as far back as the year 1900, 5 homes were noted as being built in 2002 or sooner. The ages for most of the rest of the homes, however, were unknown. All that said, it appears that national averages and averages here in Petoskey don’t necessarily correlate. To further make that point, in a study of the 1,789 homes sold since 2011, only 42 were built in 2010 or sooner with an average of 2,250 square feet. Of those 42 homes, only 4 sold in less than 30 days. Furthermore, the average day on market was 180 days over the course of 7 years.

2. Bedrooms and Bathrooms

According to the National Association of Home Builders, homes are most often built to include 2.56 bathrooms and 3.38 bedrooms. These figures coincide with what buyers were looking for in 2017. The vast majority of homes that sold were 3 bedroom, 2 bath homes. These homes are usually preferable because they can accommodate growing families, guests, or retirees all the same.

Nationally speaking, master bedrooms trend at making up 12% of the square footage space. Second and third bedrooms account for nearly 17% of the home space. Lastly, bathrooms account for approximately 12% of the square footage. Most of the floorplans are dedicated to living spaces, family rooms, dining, and kitchens — totaling nearly 40%. The remaining square footage is dedicated to spaces such as foyers, closets, pantries, laundry, and garages.

3. Financing

When it comes to how homes are selling quickly, financing accounts for 37% of home sales. While most homes sold for cash (16 homes or 59%) the remainder of sales were done through a mortgage (10 homes or 37%). One home sold on a land contract.

Of the 27 homes sold within 30 days in 2017, the average sale price was $260,063. It is important to note that the highest sale price was $1,000,000 and the lowest was $60,000. Because there is such a disparity between the highest and the lowest sale price, knowing the median sale price is more indicative of the trend. The median sale price was $175,000, with the majority of homes (15) selling under $200,000.

Finally, the average price per square foot was $173, and the median price per square foot was $152.

4. Garages

It appears that if you want to see a speedy home sale, you should make sure you have a garage. Nearly all homes sold (with the exception of two) had at least a one-car garage and on average a two-car garage. It’s no wonder Petoskey residents want garages; with our harsh winters, it only makes sense to have a safe place to house a car. So if you don’t have one already, you may want to consider adding on a garage. It may help with a quicker sale, and it is also likely to increase your home’s value too. In fact, the data shows, that of homes sold in the same neighborhood with much of the same features, the 2 homes with garages sold at substantially higher prices than those without.

5. Stick-Built

Of all of the criteria that helped contribute to speedy home sales in 2017, having a “stick-built” home seemed to be on trend; 23 of the 27 homes were built on the site where they reside.

“Stick-built” or “site-built” homes tend to hold their value at a much better rate than manufactured homes. This is because the materials used for “site-built” homes tends to be of higher quality, making them more desirable. This fact coincides with the next, that site-built homes look better in the eyes of lenders. If an investment holds its value longer, simply put, it is the better investment.

Of all the things that helped to push faster sales in 2017, it should be noted that location, correct pricing, and marketing are also factors that can contribute. Because each home is unique, it is important to get a professional market analysis from a real estate agent who knows your market area. Perhaps there are some things you can work on to help your home sell such as staging or small repairs, but you won’t know until you get a professional opinion. Call an agent today.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on December 19, 2017 at 8:46 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Buyer's Market, Buyers, buying, closing costs, real estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Moving with a Baby: The Complete Guide for Parents

We have organized the guide into three sections: Before the Move, Moving In and Baby Proofing.

By NorthStar Moving Co-Founder Laura McHolm

On the move with a little mover in tow? Every parent knows having a baby at home is an adventure. Take that everyday baby voyage and mix in moving your home, now your adventure is more like a hike up Mt. Everest! Here’s the good news, if you plan ahead and take simple steps that trek will become a walk in the park (well maybe not, but a manageable stroll up hill.) Before you pack up and gear up for the baby + move exploration, check out this complete guide for parents moving with a baby to ease the stress and enjoy the transition.

We have organized the guide into three sections: Before the Move, Moving In and Baby Proofing. You can think of it like pregnancy, nesting and then labor!

Before the Move

Stick to Routine: Baby’s love and need their routine. Don’t let the moving to-do list and packing get in the way of your regular daily routine. Instead of pulling an all-nighter to pack, try to pack over a long period of time. Use naptime and baby’s early bedtime to get packing done in bits. Baby & parents need their sleep!

Create a Moving Calendar: To keep your head from spinning, it is best to plan your move 8 weeks out. Here is a Moving Day Count Down Calendar to copy, print and hang it up where you can easily refer to it while feeding the little one. This way you can take it day-by-day and get the satisfaction of checking off moving to-dos!

Use Childcare: During the actual moving day, when boxes and furniture are being moved, little ones should be somewhere else. Ask a trusted babysitter, friend or family member to take your bundle of joy for the day. It is also ideal to use childcare for days leading up to your move so that you can get more done on your moving calendar. There are great nanny and babysitting services that help you find qualified childcare.

Talk To Your Current Pediatrician: Your pediatrician is a great resource. If you are traveling long distance, ask them for tips for keeping your baby happy on a plane or long car ride. If you need to find a new pediatrician, make sure you get a copy of all of your child’s medical records to give to your new pediatrician. Get copies of all your child’s prescriptions and have them called into a pharmacy near your new home. Ask your current pediatrician for recommendations on how to find a new pediatrician close to your new home. When finding a new doc, it is recommended to set up a meet and greet appointment as soon as you move.

Pack a Baby Bag: You know the daily drill; pack half the nursery to carry with you wherever you go. Well, this time the baby bag (box or small suitcase) should include all of your needs for three days (if you’re moving a long distance, you may want at least one month of supplies with you rather than on the moving truck). Once you move into your new place, you may not have easy access to diapers, baby food, pacifiers and the important squeaky toy. So be sure to pack everything you need for three days (or more) in one place that you keep by your side for easy access on moving day and the first few days after.

Moving In

Unpack the Nursery First: When moving in you should set up the nursery first. This will allow you to change your baby and easily put them to sleep on the first night in your new home. Arrange the nursery as closely as possible to your previous nursery. The familiarity will help you and your baby in the transition.

Setting Up The Crib: All new cribs on the market today meet the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). When setting up a new crib or reassembling your crib look for the following suffocation and strangulation hazards:

  • Sharp or jagged edges
  • Missing, broken or loose parts
  • Loose hardware
  • Cut out designs in the headboard or footboard
  • Crib slats more than 2 3/8 inches apart (width of a soda can)
  • Corner post extension over 1/16 of an inch high
  • Gaps larger than 2 fingers width between the sides of the crib and the mattress
  • Drop side latches that could be easily released by your baby

Use Safe Bedding: Soft bedding can suffocate a baby, blocking the baby’s airway during sleep. Babies can suffocate when their faces become wedged against or buried in a mattress, pillow or other soft object. Use a safe crib with a firm, tight-fitting mattress covered with a crib sheet and nothing else in it. To keep your baby warm, use a sleep sack (wearable blanket).

Baby Proofing the New Home

I turned to the uber knowledgeable folks at Safe Kids Worldwide for a Baby Safety Checklist:

Crawl Through Your Home: The first step to a safe home, say the experts at Safe Kids, is to look at the world through your baby’s eyes. See what looks interesting and what can be reached. And I mean it literally – get down on your hands and knees in your new home and check for small things your baby can choke on. You will be amazed at what you discover! If you question if an item is a choking hazard, take an empty toilet paper roll and put the small object in it. If it fits completely into the roll, don’t let children under 3 play with it.

Test Alarms: Have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors inside all bedrooms, outside all sleeping areas and on every level of your new home. Test alarms monthly and change batteries once a year.

Install Gates: Install stair gates at the top and bottom of stairs. Stair gates at the top must be attached to the wall with hardware.

Secure Furniture: Secure furniture to the wall to avoid tip overs.

Check Windows: When decorating your new place, be sure to use cordless window coverings.

Mindful Unpacking: When unpacking, be sure to lock up medicines, vitamins, cleaning products, pet food, alcohol, poisonous plants, and chemicals (like paint, gasoline, etc.) and store them high out of your baby’s reach.

Your baby’s arrival was certainly the most blissful and incredible life change. Now you get to start the next chapter together in your new home. A home that is safe for your little one to play, grow and explore!

Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.

Posted on October 9, 2017 at 4:54 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: babies, Buyers, community, curb appeal, family, Family Fun, real estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Plan Your Furniture Arrangement Before Moving In

Guest post by Laura McHolm

Designing a floor plan in your new home is a step that is frequently overlooked. However, it is essential to create a floor plan for your new home before you move.  Not only is it the step that saves you money on moving day, it also transforms a new house into your new home.

If you have a plan for where each piece of furniture will be placed in your new home, you will save time and money on moving day. The movers will not be rearranging your furniture for hours while on the clock. Sadly, the easy act of creating a floor plan before a move is a rarity. If you are not an interior designer it can be extremely challenging to know how to create a floor plan and envision a layout for your new home. So naturally, I called upon an experienced pro, Interior Designer Kathy Geissler Best of Kathy Best Design, to unwrap the secrets behind creating a beautiful and functional floor plan.

Here are Kathy’s seven steps to create a well-designed floor plan:

1. Edit

Edit your furniture. Move only pieces you love and use. Now is the time to get rid of furniture. You want your new home to look open and feel fresh. Give items that you no longer love to the Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, a family member, or sell at a consignment store.

2. Measure

Once edited, measure your key pieces. You don’t need to measure every piece of furniture, just the large items like sofas, beds and main tables.

3. Take a Field Trip

With furniture measurements in hand, take a trip to your new home. Stand in each room and think about how you are going to use each space. Rooms will be used more often if they have multiple purposes. For instance, a living room can be both for entertaining and a family game room, and a guest room can double as a home office.

4. Don’t Rush

Walk around the new home. Experience the light in each room at different times of the day and if possible on different days. Think about how you want to use each room and what will be the focal point of each room.

5. Take Note

Once you have a purpose and a feel for each room, it’s time to make a sketch. Draw a rough sketch of the room and jot down measurements. Note locations of electrical outlets, windows, light switches, chandeliers. This information will help you place furniture and décor later. Be sure to measure the path of entry to be sure big furniture items will fit through doorways, halls, and stairs.

6. Play & Design

Another way to get ready for the move is to make templates of the large furniture pieces on butcher-block paper. Move the templates around and play with them, rearranging them in different places of the room, until you find a layout that feels right. Then adjust to these pro rules:

  • Think about where you want to look in each room. At the fireplace, the view, TV? Face the furniture to work with this focal point.
  • Figure out where you want the bigger pieces and then build around them.
  • If you can, place dressers in the bedroom closets to open up space in the bedroom.
  • Leave an open welcoming path into each room. For example, do not have the back of a sofa facing the entrance to a living room.
  • Think about seat heights. A dining chair is taller than a lounge chair. You want chairs and a sofa to be at the same level in a sitting area.
  • Leave at least 18 inches to walk around beds. If guest rooms are not large, a queen bed will make the room appear bigger.
  • Use rugs to define areas. For instance, define a reading space in the living room with a separate rug. Be sure to make note of where rugs go so the movers can lay them down first in the correct locations.

7. Sketch & Post

Now that you have figured out where you want each large piece of furniture, complete your sketches. Tape the drawings of each room layout in the rooms. The movers will know where to place the furniture.

Congrats, you have a plan and the fun part is just beginning! At the end of move day, you will be walking into a home that fits you. The furniture staples will be placed just where you want and need them and now you get to add the décor accents! Furniture is like a wardrobe, dress it up with seasonal throw pillows, side tables and other accessories. You want to feel happy when you walk into each room. With the layout done now you can make your new home your happy place.

Posted on September 29, 2017 at 8:36 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: appliances, Buyers, curb appeal, decorating, DIY, interior decorating, moving, real estate, remodeling | Tagged , , , , , , ,

7 Things to Do Before Moving into Your New Home

The keys are yours, now what?

Congratulations! You’re a new homeowner. While you may not be able to wait to move in, there are a few things you should consider tackling before hanging those family photos on the walls.


1. Change the locks – For peace of mind, it’s a good idea to change out the locks on your exterior doors to ensure that anyone the previous owners may have given a key to can no longer access the property. According to Home Advisor, the average homeowner spends between $100-$300 hiring a locksmith.

2. Paint – Don’t love the lemon yellow the previous homeowners chose for the master bedroom? Painting your new home will be infinitely easier if you can do so before moving furniture into the space. Head to your local paint store to pick up a few samples to test before committing. Take your time and be sure to view the color swatches in different lights before committing. There are also handy online visualization tool like the Benjamin Moore Personal Color Viewer.


3. Take care of your floors – Like with painting, treating and refinishing floors is much easier without furniture in the way. Costs for this project will vary depending on the size of the job, but you can estimate roughly $200 for supplies and equipment. Check out this useful guide to refinishing wood floors from This Old House before heading to the hardware store.


4. Make any necessary repairs – Does the bathtub need to be re-caulked or the tile re-grouted? Do the floor boards creak? Make a list of priority repairs and tackle them one by one. You’ll be happy you did a few months from now when other projects crop up on the honey do list.

5. Clean from top to bottom – The only thing better than a new home is a clean new home. Now is the best time to give every nook and cranny of your home a deep clean. Scrub the inside of appliances like the refrigerator, oven, dishwasher and microwave. Wipe down walls and baseboards with a damp cloth. Looking for clever ways to banish grease and grime? Check out our Home Tip of the Day video series.


6. Set up your utilities – Call your electric, gas, cable and water utility providers to make sure service is transferred to you after closing. You’ll also want to research when trash and recycling pick-up are scheduled for your zone.

7. Change your Address – While you may want those mortgage bills to be sent elsewhere, it’s important to file a change of address with the US Postal Service to ensure that all mail is forwarded to your new address following your move. Also be sure to alert friends and family of your new address. They’ll need to know where to send that housewarming gift!

Now, the only thing left to do is celebrate! Looking for great housewarming party ideas? Try one of these backyard flings!

Posted on September 26, 2017 at 11:47 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Buyers, Celebrate, closing costs, first time buyers, Homeowners, real estate, selling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Find the Right Focal Point for Your Room

Not sure what element to make the attention getter in your room? Find some great choices here.

Houzz Contributor, Gabrielle Di Stefano

Well-designed rooms often have a focal point — the first thing your eye sees when you enter. Choosing the right item to emphasize sets the tone and mood for a space. Whether it’s an architectural feature, a texture, a color or a light fixture, putting the spotlight on one of these elements will help create a visually interesting and pleasing interior. But what’s the best way to do this? Here are some ways to create a focal point that doesn’t dominate or compete with other objects in a space.


Architectural feature. A central element, like this fireplace, can help you position your furniture in a room. Notice how the furniture in this space revolves around the fireplace. The stone surround also sets the color tone for the sofa, chairs and drapes.

Getting the size of the architectural element right in the room is vital. If it’s too big, it can look and feel uncomfortable. If it’s too small, your furniture will become the focal point, taking away from the main feature.

Read more about scale


Artwork. This painting is positioned perfectly — centered between the two doors, above the console — to create an instant focal point that allows the rest of the room to shine.

The size and tone of your art are important. Choose a painting with the appropriate scale for your space, in tones that stand out and draw the eye in but don’t clash with the rest of the room. One large, bold piece of art looks fantastic against a neutral wall and furniture. A series of prints can make an impact too, whether they’re framed identically or have an eclectic mix of frames.


View. When you have a view like this, use your home’s architecture to emphasize it and make it as big and grand as possible. This oversize window instantly makes the forest view the best focal point this room could have.

Choose simple furniture to complement a dream view like this. The minimalist bed and furniture allow the window to truly shine.

Revamp your space with a new bed


Texture. Add texture to create a focal point in a monochromatic color scheme, giving your room character and depth. Smooth, shiny objects will give off a cool vibe, while soft, raised textures add more warmth. This kitchen’s neutral, minimalist palette immediately draws the eye to the texture and color of the counter-to-ceiling backsplash. The tile finish glistens against the stainless steel appliances.

Find new tile that makes a statement


Pattern. Pattern can be a striking focal point. If a room is lacking in architectural features, use a more permanent, patterned finish — like tile or stone — as a bold statement.

The organic, flowing pattern and subtle color of the granite feature wall carries this powder room — no need for other decorative elements. Clever backlighting highlights the stone and emphasizes the floating vanity top.

Highlighting the ceiling with wallpaper adds interest and character to a room. Directing the eye upward also makes the room look bigger.



Color. Narrow hallways can feel dull, but painting the doors a gutsy color and adding texture with studs created multiple focal points in this one.

Pay attention to how you can use color on your home’s architectural elements to draw the eye to or away from certain parts of your home. Notice how emphasizing the skirting in this hallway with bright turquoise leads the eye from door to door.

One bold item, such as a colorful striped rug, instantly sets a playful mood. This look works particularly well in contemporary rooms with little or no architectural detailing.

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog

Posted on September 11, 2017 at 8:23 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: appliances, Buyers, buying, curb appeal, Homeowners, interior decorating, kitchens, Location, maximizing space, outdoors, projects, real estate, selling, staging, views | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Not Getting the Media Coverage You Want? 3 Tips on Getting Free Publicity in the News

If you were at a cocktail party, standing with a group of people, what is the one thing about your company that is going to make everyone want to know more?

<– Go back to the Real Advantages home page

Public relations was a hot topic at the recent Inman Connect San Francisco. And it’s no surprise why: PR can be a powerful promotional tool for a business to gain free exposure in their local news. Yet often real estate companies are not using PR in their marketing mix, give up after a few unsuccessful attempts of not getting coverage or confusing PR with advertising.

PR is earned media – not paid media. The core difference is that advertising is pay for play, where you are in control.  If you can afford to pay for the placement of an advertisement, you control the message, you control when its distributed, and you control how long it’s out in the marketplace. In PR, the control is in the hands of the media.  The reporter and media outlet control if and when it will run, how that story will be written or edited, and who else will participate in it.  In PR you have to “earn” your way in by “pitching” media on an idea and convincing them why a particular story is worthy of coverage and why you should be interviewed for that story.

Coldwell Banker can help you navigate through the complexities of PR. Here are 3 tricks of the trade for generating media exposure in real estate:

IT’S A 24/7 NEWS WORLD. Take advantage of this by using your MLS data and packaging it up with the monthly National Association of Realtors (NAR) Existing Home Sales report. Around the third week of each month, NAR issues national real estate data.  Not only is this information of national interest, but you also can give it local appeal by adding those same data points from your MLS – things like average home price, inventory levels and time on market. When you compare the national numbers to the local numbers, ask yourself: Is your average sales price up or down compared to the nation? Are your days on market longer or shorter? These comparisons are a great way to “localize” the story.  There isn’t an easier way to position yourself and your company as the premier source of local real estate information to the media and its readers/viewers.

BREAK THROUGH THE NOISE. Reporters are inundated with story ideas, so make sure your pitch or press release stands out. For example, if you’re opening a new office somewhere in town, don’t write the traditional press release announcing the opening of this office. Why not paint a bigger picture? What’s happening in that area of town? Has there been recent construction for new commercial development? New home developments? Interstate/highway expansion? Population growth in this area? You will have to do a little research, but packaging up your new office opening with a larger story of city/neighborhood growth could increase your chances of actually getting coverage. Yes, the story won’t be exclusively about your new office (let’s be honest that story was never going to run anyway), but now you might get included in the larger story as a source and potentially getting your company mentioned as a part of that growth story.

TELL THE RIGHT STORY OF A HOME. Coldwell Banker Global Luxury represents some of the world’s most stunning homes that generate national media coverage. The key to getting the media’s attention when it comes to covering a luxury or notable listing is getting outside the listing description model for a press release. Is the owner someone notable? Use the first 50 words to tell that story. If the owner isn’t going to generate headlines, then use that headline and opening paragraph to tell the story of the uniqueness of the property. Does it have smart home or green features? Can you look out a window to see something no one else in town gets to see? Is there some historic element to the house waiting to be shared? Bottom line: If you were at a cocktail party and standing with a group of people, what is the one thing about this house that is going to make everyone want to know more? Use that element as your pitch to the media.

Looking for more tips on how to get the most of your real estate PR, visit CB Exchange and search “public relations.”

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog

Posted on September 5, 2017 at 8:28 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Buyers, community, Entertainment, Homeowners, market trends, media, organization, real estate, research, social media, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Ways to Boost Your Curb Appeal for the Fall Selling Season


Colorful fall leaves in the gutter on a roof

Sellers looking to get the best price know that curb appeal plays a huge role in making the sale, even in the fall when the leaves begin to fade. Here are five simple ways to make the most of what fall has to offer and boost your curb appeal.

Sellers looking to get the best price know that curb appeal plays a huge role in getting buyers through the door. Once the flowers fade and the temperature drops, however, it can be easy to overlook your outdoor space altogether. Here are five simple ways to make the most of what fall has to offer and give your home the edge it needs for a quick sale.

1. Improve Your Entry

With every potential buyer passing through your front door, your entryway is critical to a good first impression. Cleaning the door, sweeping the stoop, and ridding the area of dirt and cobwebs can be enough to improve the overall look of your home, but for maximum impact, lay a new doormat and replace or paint any rusted or corroded hardware, mailboxes, or light fixtures. If you’re feeling adventurous, painting your front door a different shade can be a great selling feature that can be done in an afternoon.

Traditional brick colonial dressed up for fall with colorful mums and harvest gourds

2. Let the Light Shine

While the outdoors is the natural habitat for all manner of insects, they don’t need to reside in your outdoor light fixtures. Dirty lights and windows will not only reduce your nighttime curb appeal but can also affect how much natural light makes it through to the inside of your home. A thorough cleaning of light fixtures and windows will boost the overall impression buyers have of your home and can affect their impression of the rest of the home. For added impact, place inexpensive solar lights along the border of any gardens or walkways to illuminate your yard at night.

3. Love Your Landscape

Given that landscaping can amount for up to 15 percent of a home’s value, keeping your yard in tip-top shape is more important in the fall than ever. Fall colors and cascading leaves may provide a romantic vision, but may leave a potential buyer focusing on how much raking they will have to do. When seasonal plants fade away, be sure to cut back the dead growth and ensure your yard is regularly raked. Even if your yard doesn’t require frequent mowing, be sure to edge walkways with a straight-edge for a clean-cut look, and add some quick color by placing pots of seasonal plants in gardens and on porches.

Raking fall leaves with rake

4. Whisk the Water Away

The fall tends to bring increased precipitation, which can be a deal-breaker for buyers if they feel water penetration will be a problem. To prevent pooling water, be sure the grading around the foundation slopes away from the house and use downspout extenders, if necessary, to move water out into the yard. Clean the gutters regularly, and take a good walk around your home after a heavy rain to identify any problem areas that may allow water into the house, like door and window caulking.

5. Don’t Overdo the Decor

Finally, while the bounty of fall can be used to enhance the beauty of your home, be wary of overdoing the decor. Too many Halloween decorations, for example, can easily detract from the beauty of your home. Try instead for colorful mums, gourds, and pumpkins in a variety of colors and sizes that can provide earthy variety without overdoing it.

Regardless of the weather, the fall is still a hot time to sell a home, and can be an incredible opportunity to make a lucrative sale. Keep in mind that most buyers will either view your home online or drive by before making a decision to visit, so a sharp curb appeal can help keep your home above the competition.

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog

Posted on September 1, 2017 at 2:26 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: backyard, Buyers, buying, cleaning, curb appeal, interior decorating, landscaping, projects, real estate, selling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,