Spooky and creepy Halloween decorations don’t help to sell homes…


Not everyone coming to your home is a trick or treater…some may be Potential Buyers!

With Halloween less than 30 days a way it seems that many homes are getting decorated for the holiday.  However, if your home is on the market, the less you decorate the better. Less is more.

Follow these simple rules for decorating and you can still have a Happy Halloween and get your home Sold!

  • Do not decorate the exterior of your home with spider webs strung from tree to tree or draped over shrubs.  No scary witches, ghouls or bats hanging from the front porch. No signs pointing to the haunted house or dungeon.  Most importantly, do not build a cemetery in your front yard! No tombstones, crypts or skeletons should cover any part of your yard.  Keep it happy not creepy.  Many buyers can’t seem to look past the decorations, and if the decorations make their kids cry, they won’t stay long enough to see the home.

 

  • Less is more.  Limit yourself to just one room if you must decorate and keep it simple and happy.

 

  • If you have an annual haunted house or birthday party planned, perhaps you should decorate a few days before and Hold all showings until after Halloween. Lastly, makes sure you put all decorations away and clean up the yard the following day.  Your home should be timeless and have wonderful curb appeal.

 

Make the home look happy and inviting and it just may sell on, October 31st!   

We Are Now Accepting Qualified Listings

 Now providing “Short Sale Services”

Call Today for More Info on Our Fall into Fall Marketing Plan

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.

www.MichaelCarusoRealEstate.com

Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GREEN GRI

Past President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

Caruso Never Sleeps


Winter is coming! Use your senses to recognize and respond to a gas leak

Fire, explosion, property damage or serious bodily injury can all occur from gas leaks. These leaks can come from appliances, damaged pipelines and gas meters.

Recognize: Protect your loved ones and yourself by using your sense of sight, sound and smell. 

Look:

  • A damaged connection to a gas appliance
  • Dead or dying vegetation over or near pipeline areas
  • Fire/explosion near a pipeline
  • Exposed pipeline after an earthquake, fire or flood

Listen: hissing, whistling or roaring near gas line or appliance 

Smell: Distinctive odor of natural gas

Respond: If you suspect a natural gas leak..

1.   Don’t light a match candle or cigarette

2.   Don’t turn electrical appliances or lights on or off

3.   Don’t use your telephone or any device that could cause a spark

4.   Evacuate the area to a safe location

5.   Call The Gas Company at 1-800-427-2200 or 911

Information courtesy of The Gas Company

Direct Mail Marketing with Caruso


 

 

There are some real estate agents that swear by direct mail marketing and some agents that swear at it.  As a homeowner, I get other agent’s mailers and marketing pieces periodically. I collect these marketing samples not because I am interested in buying or selling real estate, but because I am interested in their marketing messages. Most agents assume that the internet is the place to be and focus the majority of their marketing efforts on on-line marketing. As much as I do online marketing I feel direct mail can be just as effective if you have the right marketing message. Here are a few examples I have gathered throughout the web of direct mailing – the do’s & the don’ts.

Just Sold, Just Listed – This is the typical real estate mailing. It’s good to know that houses are selling and quickly, but there is nothing within the marketing message that compels the prospect to contact the agent or keep for later use.

Marketing Blunders: No call to action; No compelling reason to keep the piece of mail; and it focuses too heavily on the agent’s accomplishments as oppose to the market. The marketing piece has a “iTheme” to it. “I sold,” “I listed house XYZ in town XYZ,” but as a homeowner they really only care about themselves. Every consumer tunes in to the what’s in it for me station.

Recent Sales  – This last mailer was is my favorite & the marketing message is simple: “Your house could be the next one sold.” On the back of this mailer, agents put a list of just sold homes which is eye catching. This is something most would keep.

 

 Direct Mail Marketing Tips

1. Message Matters – Make your message compelling. Give a reason for the seller or buyer to keep your flyer or contact you right away. Limited time offers works wonders for this.

2. Frequency Matters – Make your mailers into a campaign, a series of related mailings. You almost have to assume that some home buyers or sellers will discard the mail the moment it touches them, but consistency will convert. On average, there is a 7% return on investment when it comes to mail and 1-2 year turnaround time. Sending mail should not be your primary source of marketing, but it certainly can compliment your marketing strategy.

Vary your marketing messages. Those people who want to do business with you will contact you if you are compelling and consistent. You’re not likely to sell to everyone, but one commission, one opportunity can lead to several business deals in a heartbeat!

 

We Are Now Accepting Qualified Listings
Now providing “Short Sale Services”
Call Today for More Info and our “Spring Thing….”

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.     

www.MichaelCarusoRealEstate.com

Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GREEN GRI

Past President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

 

Caruso’s Fraud Alert!


I came across this information while browsing the web and I just think it is very important to touch on & be aware so that we can prevent this from happening.

Don’t fall victim to unscrupulous con artists trying to take advantage of unknowing, financially troubled home owners.  These scammers usually promise mortgage loan modifications or reduced monthly payments for upfront fees.  In most case, charging upfront fees or payments for these services is illegal. 

According to the Federal Trade Commission, these offenders review foreclosure notices in newspapers, the Internet and public files to identify potential victims. 

Scammers who place ads online, on television, and in newspapers claiming to “stop foreclosure now” and offering “money back guarantees” are suspect and should be reviewed cautiously by the homeowner. 

Please be cautions & if something does seem right, follow your gut & investigate more. When something doesn’t seem right it most likely isn’t.

 

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.     

www.MichaelCarusoRealEstate.com

Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GREEN GRI

Past President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

Be Michael Caruso's Friend! Watch Caruso TV! Are You LinkedIn with Michael? The Voice of Orange County Review Michael Caruso! Tweet Michael Caruso!

Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist  Member of The Institute Luxury Home Marketing   Million Dollar Guild Member  Member of Proxio Pro - The International MLS

 

Caruso’s Do’s & Don’ts of Emailing


 

Do you remember when it was called Electronic Mail & very few used it? Well Email has become an essential part of your life & an essential part of your real estate practice and can be a great tool if managed well.  These guidelines can help you communicate more effectively with clients and other contacts in your daily life. 

 

1. Organize and Prioritize. Create prioritized folders with a labeling system that makes sense to you. Customize folders for “Reply ASAP,” “To Do,” “Friends,” etc. Searching for buried email is a time waster, so shift messages to their respective folders as soon as you open your inbox. 

 

2. Act Now. More often than not, your clients have come to expect a response within 24 hours, and preferably within the same working day. The first time you see an email, respond immediately, delete it, and set it as a task to accomplish at a specific time, or move it into the appropriate folder.

 

3. Bridge the Gap. You can’t always get back to every sender with the information they want immediately, but make sure they know you’re not ignoring them. Send a short note explaining you’ve received and read their email, and you’ll need to get back to them about it later. The simple act of acknowledging their message will most often encourage patience, and can make all the difference between a positive and negative impression.

 

4. Keep it Short. Try to keep your responses as concise and to-the-point as possible. Summarize requests so they understand your response in context. For example: “You asked if we could meet Wednesday at 4, but I won’t be available until 5:30 that day. If that won’t work for you, please let me know how Thursday morning looks.”

 

5. Structure Your Message. Use short paragraphs and include blank lines between each one. This layout is easier to read, and will make your message more approachable.  

 

6. Proof It. Using a spell checker is important, but it might not catch everything. Typos and errors can form other valid words (e.g. contact vs. contract) that may not be corrected, so be sure to reread your message before sending it. And keep in mind that some phrases or thoughts might get lost in translation. Sarcasm, irony, and humor are often misinterpreted via email, so make sure your meaning is clear.

 

7. Create a Personalized Signature. More than likely, you send out quite a few emails daily and many of those may be forwarded to other recipients. Use each message to market you and your listings by simply including a link to your website, blog, or social networks in your email signature.

 

8. Exercise Email Etiquette. Greet your recipient by name (Hello, Mike) and close with your name on its own line (Regards, Tom). It only takes a few seconds, but can change the tone of your message and establish a certain level of respect. AVOID USING ALL UPPERCASE LETTERS; it may be interpreted as shouting. Don’t send unsolicited attachments, as many users have become wary of potential computer viruses. Get permission before sending large files, as they can tie up the recipient’s mail while being downloaded. Use acronyms (BTW, LOL) and emoticons sparingly.

 

9. When in Doubt, Send Plain Text. Using special characters (bullets, ampersands), images, fonts, and colors, runs the risk that your recipient might not be able to view your message properly.

 

10. Stay in Touch. Having a client or prospect in your database isn’t worth much if you don’t communicate with them. Send your contacts periodic updates on the market in their area, tips on home buying and selling, and even personal notes on birthdays and anniversaries.

 

11. Keep Your Contacts Current. Some of your contacts may have moved or found a new job since you last spoke with them. If their information is out of date in your address book, your emails may be undeliverable. Keep your list fresh by using a system that automatically searches the web for any updates, and then sync them to all of your devices.

 

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.     

www.MichaelCarusoRealEstate.com

Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GREEN GRI

Past President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

 

Caruso’s Homebuying Tips for BUYERS!


 

If you are considering a home purchase, be sure you don’t go it alone.  Buying a home in today’s market requires help and guidance from a real estate professional.  With multiple parties involved in most real estate transactions, pursuing a home alone, whether new or re-sale would make you feel like a goldfish in a pool of sharks.

 

The following are some excellent home buying tips to consider and questions to ask when selecting a real estate agent to look out for your best interests:

  1. First and foremost, select an agent who will represent you exclusively.  This type of representation will only happen if you choose an agent who represents buyers in their business.
  2. The real estate agent’s experience and negotiating skills are paramount to your success.  Be sure to ask how long they have been in the business.  Their expertise in short sales and bank-owned properties should be mandatory, with no exceptions.
  3. A good real estate agent must have excellent communication skills, but should be a better listener.  They should be attentive to your needs. They should explain the entire real estate transaction process to you, whether you are a first-time buyer or seasoned individual.
  4. After you select an agent to represent you, and before you make an offer on a home, be sure the agent provides you with the most recent documented sales in the neighborhood.  Only then will you make a determination on a price to offer for the home.  These documented sales, or what we call a “comparative market analysis”, must be homes within the neighborhood and have similar features as the home of interest.  Remember if you are financing the home, an appraisal will be performed prior to the close of escrow.  The appraisal will protect the buyer from “overpaying” for the home.
  5. The real estate professional should explain to you, the buyer, the entire home buying process, thereby limiting or minimizing surprises during the transaction.  Be certain that your representative follows through with the Title or Escrow Company, your mortgage lender, the appraisal, and home inspection.  The experienced buyer’s agent should have a list of licensed contractors, plumbers, and electricians for referral should the need arise.

These home buying tips will prepare you when first contacting a real estate professional by phone or email.  Be conscious of their response time.  This will be the first indication of how their communication skills, attentiveness, and punctuality will be toward all parties in the sales transaction.  Remember that this will be the most important financial decision of your lifetime, so don’t compromise and let the experience become stressful.

 

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.     

www.MichaelCarusoRealEstate.com

Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GREEN GRI

Past President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

 

Caruso’s Tips for Making Good Real Estate Videos


 

These tips are not necessarily meant for home tours, but rather for sharing content on a website, blog, Facebook or Twitter. A good video can help build trust and convey professionalism for your brand, while a bad video can accomplish the opposite.

1. Keep the camera steady. If it looks like there is an earthquake, you need to find someone else to hold the camera (or invest in a tripod).

2. You don’t need to buy a professional camera. You can use a basic handheld camera that takes both photos and videos. Most cameras are good enough to post on YouTube. The Flip is outstanding for videos.

3. When you film, make sure you record at the middle or higher size on your camera – not the smallest size. Look at your settings. The smallest size is usually 320 x 240 pixels and the middle or larger size is 640 x 480. Stick with the middle size because it’ll look better online. Most video players are larger than 320 pixels wide, so if your video is small in its original format, it can look odd or distorted when the online video player stretches your video. 

4. Shoot in good light and remember that vibrant colors help things look interesting. Avoid dim and dark places because it just looks depressing.

5. Don’t copy others. Be yourself and be personable. It’s easy to sniff out when someone goes into “selling mode” too. You want people to feel comfortable with you and not get the sense you’re intentionally marketing to them. Avoid the used car salesman vibe. 

6. Use a title or opening slide (with a photo or logo) and a closing slide with contact information. A polished slide in the beginning and end can help set your video apart from others and help your video look more professional. If you don’t know how to make a slide like this, I can help you (if you are a local agent – just call me). Examples below

7. Think about pacing. Your slide at the beginning should be about 3 seconds or so and the slide at the end with your contact information can probably be 5-7 seconds at most. If your opening slide is 10-15 seconds long, you’ll probably lose your audience. If you use a title on your opening slide, just make sure your slide is long enough so people can read the title, but not too long. Get straight to the point by having the slide fade in and then fade out before the video comes in. Make your video fade in and fade out too (that’s accomplished very easily with #11 below).

8. Keep your video to a few minutes or less if you can. People have a short attention span. They’ll certainly watch your video if it’s really good, but if your videos are consistently seven minutes long, you’d be wise to consider shortening them to 1-3 minutes if possible. You don’t have to try to make each video the definitive resource on whatever you’re talking about either. Just get on base and after a while you’ll begin to score runs.

9. Your content ought to be focused on being resourceful to others and providing helpful and good information. Having good content is the key to a successful video and more important than any point mentioned above. Think about what questions people are asking and also what sort of things you know that will be helpful to others. This is the type of stuff you can talk about. Add value. Be a resource. And don’t be afraid to fail forward. Some videos won’t be as good as others. Certain ones will be too long or something won’t be quite right about them. That’s okay. You’ll improve over time. For example, some of my early videos make me cringe. But that’s how it goes. We never get better unless we try.

10. Don’t oversell. You definitely want to tell people how they can contact you (briefly), but be cautious to not just talk about yourself the whole time. That’s old school and it makes you look self-focused. We build trust with others through video by being personable and providing good content. If someone senses they can trust you, they’ll contact you. Trust builds business – bottom line.

11. Last but not least, you’ll need video editing software. Here are a few options:

Microsoft Movie Maker: If you have a PC, you very likely already have Microsoft Movie Maker installed already. This is a free program and really the very bottom of the barrel when it comes to movie making. Your end-product can still be decent with Movie Maker, but only if you have a good looking intro image and contact image (seriously). The fonts you can use for titles and contact information with Movie Maker can really make a video look cheesy in my opinion, but if you use your own images like I mentioned in #6, it can help boost the overall quality to a decent level until you buy editing software. 

Sony Vegas Movie Studio: The non-professional “Sony Vegas Movie Studio 10″ will cost you about $100. This is a very powerful tool and you can even do some neat stuff with a green screen too. In my opinion, no video software is really all that user-friendly. There is a learning curve for using anything. I think this is definitely true when it comes to Sony Vegas. What has truthfully saved me countless hours is to watch tutorials on YouTube when I have questions. When I don’t know how to do something, I simply go to YouTube and there is bound to be a tutorial video for how to use Vegas and do the particular thing I’m trying to do.

iMovie: If you have a Mac, iMovie is a great place to start because you already have it on your computer. Everyone talks about how easy it is to use, but I don’t really think that’s the case. There is still a learing curve. Something becomes easy once you know how to do it. Overall though, this program offers a lot of bang and I’ve been impressed with the quality of the effects as well as the titles.

YouTube Video Editing: You can try out a free service by YouTube to make very basic edits. I honestly haven’t used this because my tools are working well for me, but I wanted to mention it as an option.

 

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.     

www.MichaelCarusoRealEstate.com

Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GREEN GRI

Past President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

Be Michael Caruso's Friend! Watch Caruso TV! Are You LinkedIn with Michael? The Voice of Orange County Review Michael Caruso! Tweet Michael Caruso!

Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist  Member of The Institute Luxury Home Marketing   Million Dollar Guild Member  Member of Proxio Pro - The International MLS