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.

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!

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.

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.

Word Wednesday: Simplicity

sim-plic-i-ty:  noun

  1. The property, condition, or quality of being simple. 2. Absence of luxury or showiness; plainness. 3. Absence of affection or pretense.

 

I wonder if my mom used a Simplicity© pattern to make these summer short sets for my sister Lisa and I.

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That’s me on the left…get a load of those shorts!  And the fancy fringe around the hem of the top? It’s so crooked! And the center border down the front of Lisa’s top? That’s not straight either…Bless my mama’s heart, she tried.  She really tried…but somewhere along the line, she must have messed up and not followed the pattern.

Simplicity makes me think of my mom…and not just because of the pink summer outfits.

You wouldn’t know it by her initial sewing skills but my mom was an amazing woman with many gifts. She was a great prolific writer and an incredible cook. She was an artist, she could paint, knit and eventually became quite a seamstress.  She had an eye for design.

She was gifted and she shared her gifts with an absence of luxury or showiness, without pretense. She shared her gifts to enrich the lives of those around her, to care for and love on her people. She was simplicity.

Her writing, her beautiful writing was letters. Letters filled with stories well told, articles and recipes shared. Words were written, not to be published but written to stay connected to the people she cared about who were miles away.

My mom wasn’t a renowned chef but she had lots of people to feed and fed them well. When we’d sit down to dinner my dad would say, “I wonder what the rich people are eating today.” It was his highest praise. He was certain the most luxurious dinner tables had no better meal before them.

My mom was an artist. She took a watercolor class and painted for pleasure. When her four-year-old granddaughter took an interest in painting she pulled out the sable brushes she’d spent a fortune on and taught her granddaughter to paint.

My mom had an eye for design.  When I would come home from college for Christmas break,  there’d be red tapers glowing in the holiday candlestick holders on the kitchen table.  Lamps were decorated with the green and red ribbon, the Christmas tree in front of the living room window was bright and festive, touches of holiday everywhere, perfectly placed. There’s not a house in the pages of Home Beautiful that was as beautiful and welcoming as the home she decorated.

She was simplicity. She poured her gifts into the ordinary moments of life…no pretense, not for show. Not tied to a desire to be a writer, or a chef, an artist or a designer, shared only to enrich the lives of those around her, to care for and love on her people.

Simplicity.

I can neither cook nor write a letter as well as my mom did. I can’t paint and don’t have the patience to teach a four-year-old how to paint either.  At Christmas time I tie bows around my lamps but my house isn’t nearly as pretty. I am not my mom. She had her gifts. We all have our gifts. I have mine. But I am inspired by her.

Inspired to share what I’ve got, to share my gifts in the everyday moments of life…to use what I’ve got to make the world a little better, to enrich the lives of those around me, to care for and love on my people. She inspires me.

She is MY Simplicity pattern.

Sometimes I get messed up; sometimes I concern myself too much with show or pretense. Sometimes I concern myself too much with outcomes and worry about what others might think. Like my mama, I try, but I forget to follow the pattern and the execution of my simplicity ends up as crooked as the fancy fringe hem on that pink summer top…

But I need only remember my mom…just share gifts, follow the pattern.  MY Simplicity pattern.

Simplicity.

As corny, cliched, pie in the sky as it may sound, simplicity is the goal of the Amy Curtis Group. To share our gifts and knowledge of all things real estate to take care of the people we’re privileged to work with. Give us a holler.

 

 

 

Word Wednesday: HVAC

HVAC:  Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning

 

The house we bought a couple of years ago was built in 1963.

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I fell in love with the house the moment I  walked in the front door, it had me at hello.
Before I’d even made my way through the entire house or seen the backyard I’d  already imagined myself living there…knew where I’d put our couch and bookcases.

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The furnace and air conditioning weren’t as old as the house, still, they were ancient. But I was already a goner by the time I  saw the green rusty monstrosity that was the air conditioner. I saw the house in the summer, the house was cool enough, the air conditioner WAS working, but darn, it looked like it was on its last leg. Learned it was installed in 1986. It was working, but for how much longer?

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No one looking at houses falls in love with a heating ventilation and air conditioning system. The HVAC is one of those after the fact things…irrelevant if you don’t care for the house, or a thing to contend with if you have indeed fallen in love.

The HVAC is one of those things that make the lovestruck buyer squeal in delight if they discover its relatively new…what great news! Love the house and the furnace is new!

If it’s old or ancient as was the case with the house that had already become the object of my affection…it’s a how do I deal with it??

What’s a buyer to do??

Decide if it’s a deal breaker.

Maybe you don’t love the house quite that much, maybe one of the others you’ve seen are lovable and have newer systems.

Ask that the seller replace it.

In my experience this doesn’t happen. But hey…you can ask.

Recognize a new HVAC system is in your sooner rather than later future and consider your offer price accordingly.

Sellers most often say, “it’s older but working fine, we’ve never had a problem with it.” But sellers, realistic sellers, know an old furnace and air conditioner are going to be an issue for most buyers and will take it into account in negotiating.

Cross your fingers and hope it keeps working.

If you go this route you’ll want to be sure to consider accumulating some savings for the day it goes kaput, because it will.

Request a home warranty from the seller or purchase one yourself.

A one year home warranty buys you time to save, and buys peace of mind too. If the furnace or a/c goes out during the coverage period, the warranty will cover much of the cost of replacement.

 

My house had me at hello. I was a goner. The HVAC wasn’t a deal breaker…and the sellers gave me the answer I most often hear, “it’s old but working fine.” They weren’t replacing it…heck, they didn’t even give it consideration in our negotiations, they didn’t care about their ancient furnace and air conditioner, and I guess I didn’t either. I wanted the house. In the end, they did agree to the home warranty. It was enough to have me squealing with delight…love the house, the HVAC is ancient, but there’s a warranty!!

 

Postscript: The warranty coverage period outlasted the ancient a/c…the house now has a new air conditioner…and the warranty covered most of it…squeal!

HVAC

 

The Amy Curtis Group specializes in helping folks buy homes that have them squealing with delight…give us a holler!

 

Word Wednesday: Local, Be Local

Local

Lo-cal

Adjective.

  1. Pertaining to, a city, town or small district rather than an entire state or country.

Local

When I was a kid, we went to Nagel’s gas station. We’d pull up to the pump. Our pulling up to the pump prompted the ringing of a bell that went off in Nagel’s garage. And Mr. Nagel would come out of the garage reaching for the rag from his pocket wiping the grease from his hands as he approached our car. Mr. Nagel would “fill ‘er up”.  He’d clean the windshield and some days check the oil. But every time we stopped at Nagel’s, Mr. Nagel would visit with our family.  He knew us by name, and we knew him. We knew his sons too because we all went to school together. He knew our car…maybe because he’d checked and changed the oil so many times…and he always knew how to fix it. When my dad would tell Mr. Nagel about some weird noise it was making, or some tug or pull my dad would try to explain, or a smell coming from the hood…Mr. Nagel knew what to do. Getting gas at Nagel’s wasn’t just getting gas…it was a thing…a visit…a something more than a car’s  “fill ‘er up”.

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Local

Nagel’s gas station was local. A local business, a local feeling. I remember lots of local in Orland Park…

Mr. Ed’s grocery store, Hawkins, Orland State Bank, and  Kosnar’s Drugs.

Places I remember going to when I was a kid. Places where the shop owners recognized us, knew us and we knew them, places where we shopped and visited and connected.

What was local is mostly memories.  Local is harder today. With rent prices and start-up costs, competition and risk it’s hard to start a local business. And for those small local businesses, because of the competition of big box stores chains, and online businesses, it’s hard for the small local business to stay in business.  

You don’t find it everywhere, but it still exists,  it’s still possible…the feeling those businesses of my memories evoked…

Some might call it good customer service but it’s more than that. It’s more than friendly, prompt service. It’s local.

Local is why in a pinch we might have stopped somewhere to put $5 worth of gas in the gas tank but only went to Nagel’s to “fill ‘er up”. Because stopping at Nagel’s was more than getting gas. And today, you might not come across it as often as used to…but you know local when you feel it…

Julie at Bob Davis’ office who calls me to remind me my car insurance is coming due but we stay on the phone and catch up some. Julie’s local.

Dr. Vaishnav, best pediatrician ever. Hated when my kids were sick but I loved seeing her…being with Dr. Vaishnav always made my sick kids feel better, made me feel good too. Dr. Vaishnav’s local.

Thimbles in Lockport where they don’t just sell fabric but visit and dive deep into whatever project you’re working on. Thimbles is local.

Jamie Corso of Tri-K Builders, he’s a great builder and cares as much about his customers as he does the houses he builds. Jamie’s local.

Even Starbucks is local when Cindy is working. Cindy can make a morning more pleasant, give a good start to a morning quicker than the drive-through line moves. 

It’s the feeling of familiarity and knowing someone cares. It’s comfort and mutual regard, friendly, trustworthy and personal.  Where the transaction allows the opportunity for connection.

It’s where your gas tank isn’t just filled, but you’re filled too. It’s a mutual feeling…it’s local.

Listing properties, showing houses selling real estate, that’s what we do. But if the Amy Curtis Group strives to be anything, we strive to be that kind of local.

If we can be of help with anything we’re happy to do it. Give us a holler…we’re local.

P.S. I called Dan Nagel yesterday.  Dan owns Nagel’s Auto Service in Orland Park. Called him with an odd request…I asked him if he had a photo of his dad and the gas station. Dan knew who I was, and he sent me the photo. Warms my heart that Nagel’s is still around…warms it even more that they’re still local.

Continue reading “Word Wednesday: Local, Be Local”

Word Wednesday-Photographs

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A picture produced by photography.

Photographs

I’m headed out for showings with buyer clients, we have six appointments. We’re in the car headed to the first house when the typical question arises, the one I always ask…

“What house are you most excited to see today?”

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And as is typically the case, there’s one or two from the list of appointments we have set that’s generated the most enthusiasm.

The house or two that’s generated the most enthusiasm is the house that looked great online. The house that was captured in its best possible light. The house that was professionally photographed.

In all my years of asking  “What house are you most excited to see today?” Professionally photographed homes are picked most often.

The house with the dark photo of the dining room or the house with the photo of a bathroom with the toilet seat up or the house with a photo of the master bedroom where you can see the agent in the mirror with his iPhone taking the bedroom photo…

Those houses don’t make the most excited to see list.

Buyers are willing to see those houses, they’re just not excited about them.

When you’re selling your house, do you want your house to be one a potential buyer is excited to see or just willing to see?

Photographs

93% of homebuyers are online looking for their new home.

How your home looks online matters.

Photographs “show” your house before you “show” your house. The quality of the photographs matters and nothing compares to professional photography.

Professional photography generates enthusiasm for a house. And enthusiasm generates good offers.

It’s really as simple as that.

Photographs…not just any photographs…professional photographs are a must.

A quick search of Orland Park homes priced from 200-300K produces 47 properties. Of the 47 properties, 17 have professional photographs.  I guess not all agents agree.

Will the house with the dark dining room photo sell? Sure it will…eventually, all houses do. Chances are a buyer will like the house when they see it in person on their way to see the house they’re most excited to see. But if you want to sell your home why leave it to chance?

Photographs.

The Amy Curtis Group has their clients homes professionally photographed. It’s a must.

If you’d like to learn how we get our sellers’ homes on the “most excited to see” list, give me a holler.

 

 

 

 

 

Word Wednesday: Curb Appeal

Curb Appeal

The visual attractiveness of a house as seen from the street. (Merriam-Webster)
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Curb Appeal…

Client Tony calls…A couple of the houses you sent look interesting, I’m going to take a drive by and take a look at them after work.”

As we set out for some showings on a Saturday client Jan says…”I’m most excited to see the house on Sycamore, it reminds me of the house from Miracle on 34th St.”

Agent Bob calls me, wants some feedback from my showing on one of his listings, sadly I have to tell him…”Bob, my client didn’t want to go in, they saw the outside and wanted to move on.”

Everyone talks about it…you know, the visual attractiveness of a house from the street…curb appeal. Agents talk about it, potential buyers talk about it…houses speak about it too.

Curb Appeal.
When it comes to selling a house, everything speaks…the house “speaks” and “curb appeal” is the first thing it says.

 

What a house has to say, can be heard in the words of clients Tony and Jan and the sad words told to agent Bob…

 

I’m worth a closer look”

 

“I’m cute as a button, like something out of a movie,”

 

“Don’t bother coming in.”
Curb Appeal.

 
Let’s be real, not every house can look like one out of the movies, but since your house is going to speak you want to be sure to put the right words in its mouth.

 

And how can you do that??

 

If the door is faded, paint it.vht_viewer_84

 

If the screen is broken, fix it.

 

If the front yard is naked, dress it up some.

 

If it’s too covered up with trees and overgrown bushes, strip it down some.

 

And the grass, gutters, and roof??

 

Keep it trimmed, keep them clean and make sure it’s in good shape.

 

Clean and spruce up!

 

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Curb appeal…that thing that can make a home worth a drive-by, that thing that can make a potential buyer super excited to see more, that thing that can be an insurmountable hurdle to a sale. That thing that speaks volumes.
You want your house talking about its hardwood floors, the updated kitchen with the groovy new light fixtures. You want the house to exclaim how well it’s been taken care of by showing off it’s newer furnace and brand new hot water heater.  You want it to answer every question, you want it inviting folks to sit on the couch to imagine themselves living there. You want the house to welcome those new owners home. But the house isn’t going to get a chance to say any of those things unless the first thing it speaks is right.

 

Walk out to the street and take a gaze back…what’s your house saying to you??

 

“Curb appeal.”

 

Word Wednesday: Pets

Pet(s)

noun

any domesticated or tamed animal that is kept as a companion and cared for affectionately.

 

Do you have pets?

I do.

These are mine. Henry and Vivian…I love them.

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Did you know that an estimated 78 million dogs and 85.8 million cats are owned in the United States?  Approximately 44% of all households in the US have a dog and 35% have a cat. (Source: American Pet Products Association 2015-2016 APPA)

More cats and dogs live in the United States than any country in the world. I love Henry and Vivian, just as the 3 in 5 Americans who own pets love theirs.  Americans have pet love.

With all that American pet love you wouldn’t think having  pets would ever be an issue…”cuz hey…we love our pets.”

But it is.

Having pets is an issue when you’re selling your home.

Turns out American pet love doesn’t run deep with prospective home buyers.

And while there are all sorts of statistics on pet ownership, there are no hard statistics on pets impact on home values…you’re just going to have to take my word for it. And what I can tell you comes from years of experience and common sense.

A buyer’s perception of the value of a property isn’t going to increase with the evidence of pets. Most buyers are going to consider the presence of pets derogatorily.

Best, kindest, least impactful thing I’ve ever heard a buyer say about pets in the house?

“This house is so clean I’d never guess they had a dog.”

And what does that mean? It means that if they had to guess, they’d guess a house with a dog would be less clean than one without one.

Pets are a hindrance, not a help to the sale of a home. They may decrease not boost the value of your home.

So what’s a seller to do??

In a nutshell…

Make those beloved pets disappear…as well as you literally and figuratively can.

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Some practical suggestions:

Replace any stained or smelly carpet or be prepared for an offer that reflects the buyer’s assumption that they will be replacing the carpet.

Don’t leave pets at home for showings.

Stow away bowls and leashes.

Consider asking a friend or pet loving family member to foster your pets while your home is on the market.

None of this sounds easy does it?? Because it isn’t.

That’s why the most practical suggestion I offer is this…

Accept that pets add an extra layer of pain in the butt when it comes to selling your home and possible bite in the butt when it comes to value…but remember pet love. Remember how much you love your pets, remember how much joy and good juju they bring into your home…prospective home buyers’ pet love doesn’t run deep…but yours still can.

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Pets.