Make an Offer, A Strong Offer

So this girl right here went to see a condo this week.

 

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This girl right here, my daughter Joanna. Joanna’s not sure if she wants to buy a condo, but she’s started to think about it. She feels certain she’d like to have a place of her own one day. Maybe that day is now.

The condo she saw? She liked it. She really liked it. It’s still on her mind days after seeing it.

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This girl, my daughter is now also my client. 

If she wants to buy this condo she’s going to have to make an offer. And if she’s going to make an offer she’ll want to make a strong one, one that will be accepted.

Ducks have to be in a row.

She has some work to do, and so do I.

Strong offers require the collaboration and diligence of both agent and buyer. Both buyer and agent have some things to do.

Buyer’s to do list:

Have a current pre-approval letter

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is really the first step in the home buying process. If your purchase is going to require a mortgage it will need to be approved by a lender.

Consider and decide if this is “the one”

Does this property fit your needs and goals? Have you seen enough properties to know that this is the one? Is it doable?
Agent’s to do list:

Run the comps

Running the comps helps make an offer that makes sense.

Request condo docs and Homeowners Association Rules and Regulations

Is the association financially sound? Who pays for the windows when they need to be replaced? Is there a special assessment on the horizon?

Are the rules, rules the buyer can live with.

Conversation with the listing agent

A call to the listing agent gives the selling side a heads up on interest in the property. It also allows the opportunity to find out what kind of closing date a seller is looking for, and what terms are most important to them.

If there’s a desire to proceed once the to do’s have been done, it’s time for an offer.

A Strong offer.

What is a strong offer?

A strong offer is desirable.

A strong offer gives consideration to what the seller is looking for. A closing date that works well for the seller, a quick close or one that’s flexible. An offer to purchase includes several “terms” price, closing date, financing, closing cost requests, home sale or closing contingencies, etc. A strong offer is one in which one or more of the terms are desirable to the seller.

A strong offer is complete.

A strong offer is delivered as a package, a complete package. A strong offer includes a contract neatly and completely filled out. It includes the pre-approval letter and a copy of the earnest money check. It can also include a note of explanation for the offer with supporting comparables. A strong offer isn’t  a verbal offer, it’s not a “we will get you a pre-approval letter tomorrow”…a strong offer is complete.

A strong offer makes sense.

A property is worth what a buyer is willing to pay. A buyer will determine what a property is worth to them, perhaps the price is much lower than the seller is asking, or maybe near or at or over the listing price. A strong offer is one that reflects the buyer wants the property and is willing to pay a fair price as indicated by the closed comparables and current active listings. A strong offer is not pulling a price out of the air, a strong offer makes sense.

 

The condo this girl, my daughter, my client saw?

The day she spoke to a lender, the day I had gathered the comparable sales and condominium documents and rules and regulations…was the day the condo went under contract.

Someone else had made an offer, a strong offer.

This girl, my daughter, my client…she’s prepared now. She has a pre-approval letter, she knows what’s doable now…knows what she ’s approved for, knows the payment she’d be most comfortable with. She’ll be ready when the next like it alot condo comes along…ready to make her strong offer.

As the spring market gets underway it’s important to have your ducks in a row. Properties on the market one day may be gone the next…the reason? The sellers have received a strong offer.

Be ready to make yours!

The Amy Curtis Group is skilled in crafting strong offers, when you see a move on your horizon, give us a holler, we’re here to help!

 

 

Word Wednesday: Couch

Couch:

noun

a piece of furniture for seating from two to four people, typically in the form of a bench with a back, sometimes having an armrest at one or each end, and partly or wholly upholstered and often fitted with springs, tailored cushions, skirts, etc,; sofa.

I’ve been showing a bunch of houses these past few weeks, several have been vacant. And when showing these vacant houses there’s been a question that’s come up again and again and again. Not, “What would my payment be on this property?” Not, “What are the taxes and assessments?” Not even “Why are they selling?” The pressing real estate question when showing these several vacant houses???

“Where do you put the couch?” Couch placement, that’s the question.

And I get it, sometimes it’s hard to visualize where you’d put your furniture in a property with no furniture. Empty rooms almost appear smaller, they don’t appear large enough to hold all the furniture they will eventually, inevitably contain.

I attend these showings with my property listings in hand, taxes, assessments, room dimensions, days on market, I can answer those questions easily. But “Where do you put the couch?” I’ll make some suggestions, but, I don’t know for sure.

I move my couch around in my own house because I’m not sure where my couch should go.

So when my buyer clients ask…”Where do you put the couch?” I make suggestions but I have no definitive answers.

There’s decorating advice…

The general decorating rule of thumb says the couch should face the focal point. According to decorators placing the couch in front of the window or across from the window or in front of the fireplace are options as well.

When you’re buying the house you can put your couch pretty much anywhere you want to. It’s your couch and your house.

But when you’re selling your house it’s a different story.  When you’re selling your house think moving out not cozying in, think staging not decorating.

Staging rules are different than decorating rules. And as it pertains to “Where do you put the couch?” it’s all about “the shot.” The shot that will be the photograph of the room.

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In staging terms it’s called “sightline” and it’s your eyes view of a room. For staging purposes, it’s best to have an unobstructed sightline, where everything in the room is in view.

Sometimes placement of the couch is counter to decorating advice. A couch in a sunroom would surely be placed to face the view of the yard out the windows, but the “shot” and the sightline are improved with the couch in front of the window.

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When you’re selling your house consider the shot; consider the photograph being taken. The couch should be placed where it will best create a beautiful photo and show off the features and focal points of the room.

 

I’m not sure where the couch should go in the homes my clients’ view.  When they buy the house they may have to rearrange their couch like I do mine. But when it comes to the couch in the room of the house that will soon be for sale?? Think staging not decorating. Consider the sightline, check the shot. “Where do you put the couch?” You’ll know the answer.

Couch.

The Amy Curtis Group can offer suggestions on staging your home. Still, we think it’s best that our clients receive professional staging advice. It’s why we provide our clients with a complimentary staging evaluation by Julea Joseph with Reinventing Space. If you’re thinking about moving give us a holler, we’ll show you all the best “shots.”

 

 

Word Wednesday: Service

Service

What’s your service?

There are seventeen definitions in the dictionary under the word service.

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I read the definitions.  Smooshed all together, they seem to express a doing of something or a being of something for others.

I attempted to write on it, but couldn’t put it all together…had to talk it through instead.

Thoughts on service…

 

 

and then my phone rang so the video is split in two….

 

 

Service.

That’s what I got.

The Amy Curtis Group is committed to service. Give us a holler.

Why Didn’t My Home Sell?

I’ve been having conversations with frustrated sellers. Sellers frustrated because the home they listed last year “expired” without a sale. And each of those frustrated sellers wants to know:

Why didn’t my home sell in 2017?

This is the question many homeowners ask themselves, and it’s what they ask me.

It’s worthwhile to talk about it here….

Inventory is low. The market is strong.  You have a great house. You dream of where you will go next. You put your house on the market and…it doesn’t sell.

Why?

I can’t immediately be sure, but these are questions to consider:

When did you put your house on the market?

Timing can be everything. There are ebbs and flows to the housing market. If you put your house on the market during the “ebb” your house may have gotten lost in a market of higher inventory and lower market activity.

What was your competition?

Every house will either sell itself or help sell the neighbor’s house. How did your house stack up against the competition? Did your house appear to be a good value or did it give the impression another home was a steal?

How was your house presented?

Did you see your house online? How were the photos? Did your house attract the attention it deserved? The online presentation of a house is critical. More than 90% of homebuyers are searching online. Professional photography is a must in today’s market, a picture is worth a 1,000 words…did your photos “say” all the right things?

Was your house market ready?

No house is perfect. Every buyer is going to want to make some changes to a house when they buy to make it their own, but the key is to have your house “ready” enough the changes can be at the buyer’s leisure not mandatory before they even move in.

The reason for a house not selling can be found in the answer to at least one of those questions.

I’m having conversations with frustrated sellers because they still have a desire to move. But most of the folks I’ve been talking to are hesitant to try it again. They’re not sure they have it in them to put up with showings, to hope their home will sell, to dream about where they’ll go next.

And I get it. Having hopes dashed, it’s not easy to hope again.

I am the finder of silver linings and I’ll tell you what I tell them. Because there is a silver lining, there is good news.

The good news??

It’s not your first trip to the rodeo, you have experience now. You’ve experienced the market first hand and know more today than you did the first time you attempted to sell. You can consider the factors that prevented a sale with more clarity and adjust accordingly.

This time you’ll be ready like you weren’t ready before.

This time you’ll have the house ready for the spring market and the timing will be just right. This time you’ll consider the competition and commit to beating it, this time the photos will be beautiful and this time the house will be ready because you’ll have all those staging things done.

This time you’ll get everything right.

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The Amy Curtis Group works with a simple equation: Homes well prepared for the market + Packaged Beautifully + Priced appropriately + Presented to the Widest Audience possible EQUALS  A home sold for the highest price the market will bear.

If you’re frustrated your home hasn’t sold in the past, let us put our math to work for you! Give us a holler.

Word Wednesday: Urban

 

Word Wednesday: Urban

 

Urban:

1.of, relating to or designating a city or town.

2. living in a city

3. Characteristic of our accustomed to cities; citified.

 

I’m tossing today’s word, urban…because really, I’m a suburb person. I’m suburban, not urban.

Except, interestingly enough, being suburban doesn’t mean you can’t be urban too.

Turns out urban, suburban is housing’s hottest trend. There’s a name for it: Surban

What’s surban? Surban is a suburban area that looks and feels urban, a blend of both. Surban has particular characteristics: 

Found in suburban areas, not urban.

Schools are highly rated.

Low crime.

Dominated by a variety of housing options.

Shopping and entertainment areas within walking distance of housing.

Why is surban significant?

Two interesting things to note:  The Urban Land Institute estimates that surban areas will draw at least 80 percent of future households in the next decade. And they won’t all be homeowners as housing experts predict homeownership is going to decline, some predict a national rate of 60.8 percent by 2025 the lowest point since the 1950’s. Surban areas will offer households a variety of housing options including single family homes, condominiums, and apartments.

To meet the demands of future households communities would do well to consider the surban trend.

How cool is it that Orland Park is sure to capture some of the 80 percent of households drawn to surban areas?

Because if you look around Orland Park you can see they’ve been on the forefront of what is and will be one of the biggest trends in real estate. I think former Mayor Dan McLaughlin deserves much of the credit. He was talking “surban” before surban was even a word. Mayor Dan spoke for years about the need for Orland Park to develop a downtown, an area pedestrian friendly with mixed use of residential and commercial. The Mainstreet Triangle, Orland Park’s comprehensive plan in 2010, it was all in there…surban. He caught so much flak, not all of Orland Park approved of the downtown triangle. But Mayor Dan McLaughlin and Village Board were on the right track. 

Orland Park is surban!

A variety of housing options…

Shopping and entertainment within walking distance…

 

We’re sure to see continued development; a theatre is still in the works.  But Orland Park is already ready for those drawn to surban living!

 

Thinking about a move…surban or otherwise? The Amy Curtis Group is here to help. Give us a holler!

Has the Spring Market Sprung in Orland Park?

 

Has the Spring Market Sprung in Orland Park?

Joe and Mary sold their house in December. They’re ready to buy. They’re looking for a ranch. They’d like a ranch with at least two and a half baths, basement doesn’t need to be finished and they’re not opposed to doing some updating. We’ve seen the few that have come on the market, but there have only been a few and none of them have been quite right.

Joanne is on the internet all hours of the day searching for townhouse possibilities. Joanne wants to downsize, she’s looking for a ranch townhouse with a basement, preferably a three bedroom but if the layout is right and has enough space she’d settle for two. But even if Joanne finds the townhouse of her dreams, Joanne still has a house to sell.

Don and Alice have a gorgeous house that’s ready to go on the market but they’re waiting to hear from the builder with the target completion date for their new house that’s being built.

Bob and Shirley are ready to jump on a house in the community they’ve been scouting for months. As soon as they find it and buy it they’ll put their perfect location house on the market.

This is a partial picture of my spring market. Orland Park is just one town, I am just one agent but from my vantage point, the spring market hasn’t sprung.

The numbers tell the same story. The market’s been steady, but we are a seasonal market and it’s still early. This year from January 1st until February 17th 104 properties have gone under contract. Compare that to the 182 properties that went under contract from March 1st through April 17th of last year and you see our spring market isn’t in full swing. We’re at least a couple of weeks away.

Maybe the weather needs to warm up some, maybe a daffodil or two will push us along…or maybe…

The spring market needs Pink so we can get this spring market party started.

 

Who’s Pink?

Do you have an Orland Park ranch with two and a half baths that you’d  like to sell this year?  If you do, you’re Pink and if you’d get your house on the market, I’ll be over with Joe and Mary in a jiffy.

Do you have a spacious two or three bedroom townhouse with a basement? If so, you’re Pink and if you’d get your two or three bedroom Orland townhouse on the market that would light a fire under Joanne’s butt to get her house on the market.

Are you a builder with a presold house under roof? If so, you’re Pink and if you’d call those buyers with a target completion date then they like Don and Alice could get their gorgeous sell in a blink Orland Park house on the market.

Do you have a great house in a fabulous high demand community? If so, you’re Pink and if you’d just get your house on the market Bob and Shirley would jump on it and then they’d be ready to put their perfect Orland Park location house on the market.

Are you Pink? If so, everybody’s waiting…the spring market will not have sprung until you arrive.

Are you Pink? Give the Amy Curtis Group a holler…let’s get this party started!

Word Wednesday: Window Treatments

win-dow treat-ment

Noun

Interior decoration for a window or window frame

 
When we went under contract on the house we were buying, that’s when the dreaming began…

What furniture would go where what colors we’d paint each room and lots of dreaming about window treatments.

 

I collected all sorts of ideas on a Pinterest board.

 

I was dreaming about window treatments because the window treatments that were staying with the house were less than my heart’s desire.

Some houses have beautiful window treatments.

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Some houses have such lovely window treatments buyers want them included in their purchase of a house.

So how exactly does it work with window treatments when it comes to the sale of a house? What window treatments stay? What window treatments does a seller take with them?

On the contract I use it looks like this:

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The contract is clear. “All window treatments and hardware”

And with most of the window treatments in a house, it isn’t a problem because…

Realistically, would a seller remove mini-blinds? Plantation shutters? Would they remove the vertical blinds from the sliding glass door? Probably not.

How about an elaborate cornice and drapes in the dining room? The removal of a cornice and elaborate drapes attached to the wall would leave holes a seller would need to patch and paint.  Given the elaborate window treatment was custom made with the exact measurements of a particular window, what would be the sense in taking it along? It’s not going to fit any other window as perfectly as the window it was made for. So a seller probably has no intention of removing it, it stays not because the contract says it should, but because removing it doesn’t make sense.

The second bedroom with the Thomas the Train curtains that match a child’s comforter? Does a buyer care whether the seller takes those? I’m thinking no, because really what are the chances the buyer had Thomas the Train curtains in mind for the windows anyway…what the are the chances Thomas the Train curtains are the window treatments the buyer has been dreaming about and pinning on their Pinterest board? Pretty slim.

In most cases, with most windows and their treatments there isn’t a problem.

Problems can happen with the beautiful window treatments. The window treatments the buyer and seller both think are beautiful and both want. The buyer wants them to stay and the seller had no intention of leaving them behind.

A real estate transaction is stressful, even a smooth transaction has its stresses and bumps along the way. The last thing anyone needs is a bump that could have been avoided. The last thing anyone really wants is a real estate transaction to get derailed over some window treatments. It can happen, but it shouldn’t.

Window treatments are avoidable bumps. The contract is clear: “All window treatments and hardware.” Any interior decoration and the hardware holding it up, according to the contract, stays. If, as a seller, there are window treatments you want to take with you it’s important to make that known to prospective buyers from the beginning. Remarks in the MLS can express your intent. “Dining room panels do not stay” “Curtains in the second bedroom do not stay,” Or to avoid any possible window treatment bump you could remove those window treatments you want to take with you and replace them with something you’re happy to leave behind.

Window treatments.

We closed on our house without such a bump…

They aren’t my heart’s desire, but I’m glad they left them behind. I’m still dreaming.

 

Window treatments.

The Amy Curtis Group is adept at avoiding bumps and reducing the stress of real estate transactions, give us a holler.

This is Where You Belong

I was born and raised in Orland Park. I know Orland Park like the back of my hand. I know it’s neighborhoods, I know the shortcuts in and around town to avoid the traffic on LaGrange. I know it’s restaurants and parks. I’ve been to oodles of village events…Concerts in the Park, Taste of Orland Park, Orland Days. I’ve spent hours on summer days hanging out at Centennial pool. I know many of the village trustees and count the former Mayor among my friends. Orland Park is my hometown. I have a fondness for my hometown and feel a connection to it.

I moved to Lockport a couple of years ago. I didn’t intend to move here but a house found me (I’ll have to tell you the story sometime, it’s a pretty good one) and now I live in Lockport, Illinois. I like it here very much, but I don’t know Lockport like I know Orland Park and I don’t feel connected to Lockport like I still feel connected to my hometown. Maybe I haven’t been here long enough…but I’d like to have some of that same attachment, feeling of connection to Lockport that I feel for Orland Park. 

Is that possible?

I bought a book a while back…

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This Is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are by Melody Warnick.

I’ve only started reading it and skimmed the chapters but with interesting research and a personal story it explores falling in love with where you live:

“The average restless American will move 11 times in their life. For Melody Warnick, it was move #6, from Austin, Texas to Blacksburg, Virginia, that threatened to unhinge her. In the lonely aftermath of unpacking, she wondered: How does the place we live become the place we want to stay? In This Is Where You Belong, Warnick dives into the research around our attachments to place and travels across the country to find out what draws Americans to where they live, and what makes them want to stay. What she learns will inspire you to embrace your own community-and perhaps discover that where you live now…is home.”

In the book she identifies what she calls “Place Attachment Behaviours” those things that people attached to their community do and then creates love where you live experiments around those behaviors:

  1. Walk more
  2. Buy Local
  3. Get to Know My Neighbors
  4. Do Fun Stuff
  5. Explore Nature
  6. Volunteer
  7. Eat Local
  8. Become more political
  9. Create something new
  10. Stay loyal through the hard times

I bought the book, I’ve started reading it…I’m going to finish reading it…and then I’m going to put it into action…

The book offers ideas of things to do for each of the behaviors. Some things I’ll never do. I can’t ride my bike to work, introverted me isn’t going to host a dinner block party, and I know I’m not going to hike…anywhere. But there were lots of ideas I can do, things I think I’d like to do. So I’m going to give a bunch of them a whirl and see what happens.

And if Melody Warnick is right, the doing of those things will foster the connection I seek. Valentine’s Day might be over, but I’m going to try falling in love…with my town, Lockport IL.

Join me in my journey or begin one of your own, a journey of connection to a community and finding home wherever you are.

The Amy Curtis Group is committed to helping each client find their “This is Where You Belong” home.  We’re here when you need us, give us a holler.

 

 

Word Wednesday: Love

Love – noun

10. Strong predilection, enthusiasm, or liking for anything: her love of books

9. Affectionate concern for the well-being of others: the love of one’s neighbor

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Photo by Laura Briedis on Unsplash

You can’t tell clients… “ I love you.”

I mean how weird would that be???

A professional relationship involving a big real estate transaction, one with legal documents and financial ramifications, a commission paying for services rendered…

“I love you” doesn’t fit.

Start dropping “I love you(s)” and a real estate agent might quickly find herself doing no realestating at all. Because “I love you”? That’s just too darn weird, right??

Love.

I am fortunate to love the work I do. Yes, being a real estate agent is hard and can be stressful, and unless you’re a super big producer the erratic income can add to the stress of the job. But I love the work…”strong predilection, enthusiasm, or liking for anything”…I love being a real estate agent.  I once wrote a post explaining why…

Top 10 Reasons I Love My Job

Love.

Anyone that knows me knows I am a person of feels…sometimes it feels like a curse, but it’s just the way it is. I am a person of feels; people move me. Their joys, sorrows, dreams, disappointments, fears, hopes…I can see them and feel them.  

Puts me in quite the predicament doing this real estate gig, because real estate is personal business. I mean, I sell houses but those houses are attached to people and their personal stories, and those stories are filled with the joys, sorrows, dreams and disappointments, fears and hopes I can see…

Young couples in love, starting their journey together, finding their first home…

Retired couples selling the home they’ve lived in for 30 years, the bittersweet process of letting go and moving on…

The still grieving adult child selling the home of the parent that’s passed away…

The family of four soon to be six busting at the seams of the house where their family began…

They slay me.

And I’m just there to do a job…get a house sold or help them buy the new one…but being one cursed with the feels, in the process of getting the house sold or finding the new one, those clients of mine get under my skin and make their way into my heart. My clients move me. You could say I feel affectionate concern for their well being.  

And that, according to the dictionary…is love.

Weird, isn’t it?

Love.

What to do?

On any other day I’ll bite my tongue, keep my weird hidden from view…but it’s Valentines’ Day so…I’ll just go ahead and tell the truth…

I love you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Amy Curtis Group is skilled at big real estate transactions, we are professionals, we also get choked up and hug at closings, we won’t weird you out by saying “I love you” but we do. When we can be of help, give us a holler.

Organization

I’m in a blogging group. This week we’re supposed to be writing about “Organization.”

This is not a topic I can write about with much credibility because I struggle with organizing. Closets, drawers, big projects. Somehow my brain can’t break down the tasks or envision the way to completion.

When the subject of organizing comes up two things come to mind…my sister Lisa and my Bullet Journal.

When I want to organize something, I call Lisa. She’s awesome at organizing things.

When it’s time to organize my closet, switch out the winter for spring summer clothes…I call her. She helps me sort through clothes and accessories, helps me decide what to keep and what to give away. With her help, a closet becomes organized in a couple of hours…left to my own devices? There’s just no telling. When I’m trying to figure out how to make my laundry area in the basement more organized, cuter, more efficient, it’s her counsel I seek. She has that organizational eye for things. She sees an area in need of organization and she knows what to do.

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So, I don’t have it in me to write a blog post on the subject of “Organization” I can’t do it…not with a straight face anyway. And it would be a rather short post…Need Something Organized? Find your Lisa.

Instead, I’ll  give a plug to my favorite, best ever, changed my life organizational tool…

The Bullet Journal.

A bullet journal is the single best thing I ever started using to get and keep myself organized.

Heard about the bullet journal?

It takes a little time to wrap your head around the bullet journal, but it’s worth it. In a nutshell, a bullet journal is an all in one analog system and tool to keep track of anything and everything. Bullet journaling? It changed my life!

Things I Love About My Bullet Journal (that you might like too!)

The index

Who knew that an index on the first page of a notebook would be the key to opening the endless possibilities of a notebook’s use. An index in the front of a notebook…brilliant!

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Fewer Notebooks

I got to throw out all those notebooks I was hanging onto. Notebooks hung onto forever because there were notes from a conference I attended in one, someones’ address I might need, brilliant ideas, a book someone mentioned, all buried in the pages of notebooks. With a Bullet Journal, you don’t need the notebook, Books To Read, People I Met, Brilliant Ideas are collections you can include in your bullet journal. I still always have a notebook handy, but once the pages are filled I give it a look through once. Anything worth “keeping” is transferred to a collection in the bullet journal and the notebook can be tossed. Yeah!
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It can be Adapted to Individual Use

My bullet journal is my calendar and to do list, it’s also my book of lists, books I want to read, ideas for blog posts, it’s where I keep track of projects I’m working on too. I can track anything, do anything…all from the 240 plus pages of a Moleskin notebook. A teacher’s bullet journal? A stay at home mom? A project manager? College student? The bullet journal can and does work for anyone and the way they want to use it.

It’s Paper

I’m a pen and paper person. I remember more of what I write by hand than what I type, and too, paperless is out of sight, and for me,  out of sight is “out of mind” The bullet journal is tangible, and tangible works better for me.

Bullet Journal frees up mind space

The creation of my “Brain Dump” collection was mental bliss. To clear mental clutter, to get stuff out of my head? Aaaah. All that stuff I tried to remember? My bullet journal remembers for me.

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Things on my to-do list? Bills I need to pay when? Birthdays? Tasks? Events? Notes? The bullet journal offers the way to manage all of those things. I’d like to read more, write more, and drink more water? A simple tracker in my bullet journal reminds me to do the things I’ve decided are important to me.

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Lisa is my go-to organizational guru…my bullet journal is the place where I keep the list of things that need organizing and the reminders to call her for help. Does it get any more organized than that!?

When it comes to organizing, the Amy Curtis Group really does have you covered…Lisa in her ways, and me in mine. Need help organizing? Give us a holler. Want to move? We can help with that too…we’re organized!