Warning: Resolutions ahead!

ImageAre you going to be one of the few who look back one year from now with the extreme satisfaction of having kept your promises to yourself? Or will you be among the millions who vow to try again next year?

I want you to be in the first category, and I want to help you see your goals become reality. So in that spirit, I thought I’d share a few strategies and tools for success this year.

1) Have you really articulated your goal? Is it “be in better shape” or is it “lose 30 pounds”? A degree of specificity is a must, because you’ll need an objective against which you can measure your efforts.

2) Have you gotten excited about your goal? Have you imagined the outcome? Don’t be ashamed to really visualize yourself enjoying the spoils of your hard work. Imagine yourself sharing your success story with pride.

3) Share your goals! Don’t keep your dreams in the closet where no one can see them. Public declaration not only helps you find third-party support from friends and family, but putting them out there makes them harder to abandon when motivation flags.

4) Don’t give in to “all or none” thinking. When you slip, lose focus, or encounter setbacks, don’t use them as license to give up. It will feel worse to crawl back after a blow-out than it will to forgive yourself and pick up where you left off. Accept that progress matters more than perfection.

5) Leverage apps and other technology to help you make progress. Automatic reminders, social networks, and other goal-specific tools can help. (Check out this article on “5 Apps for Keeping New Year’s Resolutions: http://mashable.com/2012/12/27/apps-new-years-resolutions/)

So what are your goals? Comment below! No time like the present to make your dreams public.

(Of course, if one of your goals is to buy or sell a home, I’d be happy to play a big part in helping you reach that objective! Contact me today: by phone at 484-893-1234 or at joe@debandjoe.com.)

Here’s to Lucky ’13!

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I Can See for Miles at this new Listing!

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Where oh where can you find this great view and still be only two miles away from I-78?  How about beautiful Weisenberg Township near Fogelsville?  We just listed this great home there at 8490 Cliff Forest St and I can’t wait for people to see it!  It’s a 2702 square foot home that was built in 1993.  The owner has done some great things with this one, adding a family room and adjacent Florida room to the existing home several years ago.  The roof was replaced a year ago and the vinyl on the front of the home was redone with brick.  The master bedroom is huge and of course there’s a master bath.  The other bedrooms are also spacious and one of them has a balcony, which is where I shot the photo at right.  The current owner uses this bedroom as an office.  Imagine taking a break from work to sit outside catch this view!  The home is listed for just $350,000 and you can get more information at The Lehigh Valley Home Store!

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Beware the Phantom in Your Home!

LED lightsIf it seems like your energy bills keep going up and up while you’ve been doing everything you can to reduce your usage, read on! There’s a “phantom menace” that’s at work here and it’s all the rage in consumer electronics.

While increased energy costs are certainly playing a part, long gone are the days when shouting at the kids to “turn off the light!” was a sure way to save on electricity (though installing reduced-energy bulbs is a good move, too).  75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while products are turned off, according to the The U.S. Department of Energy.  The term to describe this is known as “phantom load.”

Home entertainment systems with remote controls, wireless routers, appliances with clocks, electronics that use a power adaptor (i.e. a wall cube) and computer printers are all good targets for reducing phantom loads. If you can feasibly eliminate these loads, you can save a lot of money over the course of the year.

So how do you eliminate phantom load? Unplugging devices every day is a hassle, but one sound alternative is the use of power strips which allow you to kill the connection to the main outlet without having to unplug devices.Check out Staples or your favorite office supply store to find a variety of options for allowing certain devices to “pass through” while others are shut off. This can be useful when you have certain devices which do need to be “on standby” while others do not.

While going green is a perfectly good reason to reduce your power consumption, the money you save on power can go to other household expenses, family vacations, and perhaps even the down payment on your next (or first!) home.

Keep an eye out for those energy vampires! Usually you can tell who they are by their LED lights glowing in the night.

I love to help my clients get the most out of their home. If you’re thinking of selling or searching for a home soon, please get in touch today by calling my office at 484-893-1234 or by email at joe@debandjoe.com.

The 8 Worst Listing Photos I Have Ever Seen

Really bad real estate photo

This one makes 9!

When you’re thinking about hiring an agent to help you market and sell your home, it’s probably a good idea to ask to see listing photos of homes they’ve represented in the past. A true real estate professional will go the extra mile to make sure there are plenty of high-quality, detailed photos and a complete video tour to help market your home online.

At the minimum, the photos should be well-lit, the homes should be tastefully presented, and the photographs should appear to be taken by a professional. Less than that, and you might want to consider looking for a new agent.

There are, of course, major red flags you’ll want to look for in sample listing photos. Consider some of the following:

– No owners sunbathing in the pool in Speedos.
– No attic rooms cluttered with personal massagers and ashes/dust.
– No master bedrooms with lingerie models lounging in a red velvet four-poster bed.
– No bathroom shots in which the photographer appears in her bra in the mirror.
– No pics featuring the owners engaged in questionable activities in the background.
– No creepy dolls by the fire place.
– Seriously, no creepy dolls anywhere, not even in the living room!
– No stains of murdered bodies on the bare floors.

Now, it may sound like I’m joking, but I’m being 100% honest when I say these are flaws seen in actual listing photos represented by real agents. What’s more, I can prove it.

See every single one of the above listing photo disasters in this slide show:
http://blog.sfgate.com/ontheblock/2012/03/05/what-not-to-do-when-selling-terrible-listing-photos/

Incredible, isn’t it?

Please, whatever you do, be sure to hire an agent who takes their listing photos seriously. After all, your home is your largest investment! I’ll be glad to treat it with the respect it deserves. Let me help you market your home the right way. Contact me today at 484-893-1234 or joe@debandjoe.com.

New iPad Reminds Me of Great Apps for the Home

Photo of iPad

The announcement of the new iPad this week got me to thinking about some really cool apps I’ve seen over the last several months.  Here are the five best, most of which are free. (Even the ones that aren’t free are so worth it that you might want to try them out anyway.)

Who would have thought that you could control your TV with your iPad? And match colors you see in the world to exact hues with Sherwin-Williams? And carry a comprehensive wood grain library with you everywhere you go? Oh, and did I mention: An app to measure your rooms and a different one to help you decorate them? 

ColorSnap: Capture real world colors and match them to Sherwin-Williams paint colors—for free.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/colorsnap/id316256242?mt=8

Remodelista: Looking for the perfect couch, stylish DIYs, or inspiration to refresh your space? Get your daily deco fix with the new Home Design App from Remodelista.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/remodelista/id377290615?mt=8

 Control4: Turn your iPad into a touch screen remote! Control your TV, lights, sound system and home security from one place:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/control4-my-home-for-ipad/id364304056?mt=8 

Photo Measures Lite: Photo Measures is the most elegant and the easiest way to save measures on your own photos on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch!

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photo-measures-lite/id417222688?mt=8

I.D. Wood: A powerful reference guide to help you ID any kind of wood, or choose a color and grain for future projects.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/i-d-wood/id325838725?mt=8 

Not a homeowner yet?  I can help you with that! I guide first-time buyers through a pain-free process all the time. Reach out to me today and I’ll send you a free copy of a great book called “Your First Home”.  E-mail or call me at 484-893-1234 to get yours!

Something to Cheer About

Several factors surfaced this past week that support the case that the housing market may be better than commonly reported:

Household Worth – The Federal Reserve reports that household net worth in the US soared $2.1 trillion during the last quarter of 2010.

Delinquent Mortgages – The MBA reports that last month the overall delinquency rate for single-family mortgage loans dropped to 8.22% at the end of 2010.

Late Mortgages (one payment late) – The MBA reports that on late payment mortgages have fallen to 3.25% of all outstanding home loans and are now at the pre-recession levels of 2007.

Debt Loads – Zillow reports the US families have shaved down their debt load in 2010 to the lowest level in six years – this could mean more sustained spending in the near term. Since a healthy housing market depends on consumers’ ability to borrower, so a cash rich household and available credit are good signs. However, the tight credit environment will keep a recovery tepid and make it difficult for many households to qualify for a mortgage. Zillow reports that it will be impossible for the one-third of Americans with credit scores below 620 to qualify.
Today’s household are now well below the household debt peak in 2007, but still above historic levers. However, in 2010 household debt fell to 116% of disposal income, from 130% in 2007.

Home Are Undervalued – Capital Economics just released a study, based on the Case-Shiller home price index. They calculate that in the Q4 2010, housing as 21% undervalued when compared with disposable income per capital. When measuring values against the FHFA index housing in Q4 was 15 percent undervalued when compared the same way.
Both measures show that home prices in 29 states dipped to a new cycle low in Q4 2010.
The same study says that the recent “de-valuing” housing inventory is attracting cash buyers and investors back into the housing market. This will have a stabilizing effect on home prices and create a more affordable market.

From the Economic Focus newsletter sent out weekly by the Fidelity National Title Company.