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i turn REALTY into REALiTY

Fresh Cookies – Limited time only…

I’m sitting here at my Open House in Woodinville (see previous post below). I’ll be here until 4pm today.

It’s a sunny day here and the mountain views from my clients’ back deck is gorgeous. Too bad it is 40 degrees outside, or I’d be kicking back on their lounge chairs. Instead, I’m inside the warm confines of their home writing this post…

When I sit Open Houses for my clients, I always try to bake something in the oven. I’ve heard that it evokes the senses of visitors, but to be honest, it’s purely selfish on my part. I just like to eat! What are your thoughts? If you went into an Open House, would you think that the cookies were some evil ploy on the part of their Realtor, or would you just grab one (or two) and enjoy the offer? Would it help you to remember the home later?

And now for something completely different…

I was surfing the internet the other day and came across an article about Coinstar that intrigued me. I knew about Coinstar from its inception many years ago, because it was started by Jens Molbak (of Molbaks Nursery in Woodinville). I had never utilized a Coinstar machine to count my coins because I’m inherently cheap and didn’t want to pay their 9.8% processing fee. Instead, I followed the Chinese tradition and used cheap (free) child labor. I would have my kids roll all of my coins up in wrappers and then I’d take it to the bank.

Now that my kids are older and no longer under my control, my loose change has just been gathering dust in my office.  What I discovered on the Coinstar site was the free (no fee) offer to exchange my loose change for Starbucks credit. Since I have a Gold Starbucks card that requires constant feeding ($$), this was the tipping point that I needed.

Today, I filled up a small baggie full of coins and took a trip to the local Coinstar machine. I added nearly $20 to my card! For those of you who don’t drink Starbucks, you can also exchange your coins for Amazon.com credit, and other merchants. Check it out here…Do you know what else I learned? Redbox video rentals is 100% owned by Coinstar! Very cool!!!

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My new listing in Woodinville, WA

I just listed home in Woodinville, WA for $799,000. It is 4300 square feet, and has beautiful mountain views from the back deck. Some lucky buyer will get a steal on this home, as my sellers originally paid $1mil for it a few years ago… But, the real estate market is just like the stock market in that it goes up and down… Timing is everything! Drop me a line if you’d like a personal tour of this home.

Mortgage Tips for 2011

I just read this article on MSN.com and found it useful.  I especially liked tip #5. I never knew that when refinancing, you could ask the bank to amortize he loan over the remaining loan period instead of resetting the clock to 30 yrs. Pretty cool stuff!

“Green” trends for 2011

Just this past year, I received a “Green” certification from the Earth Advantage Institute. I still have much to learn about the processes involved, but I find the premise and ideas fascinating. Although I’ve reduced my carbon footprint by a significant amount this past year, I realize that there is much more that I could be doing…

This “Top 10” list is a good place to start if you’re wanting to become more eco-aware… I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are you are “green” as you could be?

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Sell, Sell… No, Buy, Buy!

In general, I tend to be a contrarian where investing is concerned, but I really like this post from Hedge Fund Manager, John Paulson. I think it earns credibility for the real estate market, because it is coming from an financial guy, not some real estate analyst. I’m sitting here waiting for your call…

Cool new technology!

Anyone who really knows me understands that I love technology. While I try and portray a sophisticated and cool dude on the exterior, I’m really a nerd at heart. Take this cool new project that Microsoft is working on as a prime example. It’s called Tagging.

Still in its Beta phase (aren’t all MS products?) this software is designed as a marketing tool for mobile products. You need to have the latest in phone technology (which I do), and download a small application that runs on your phone. Currently, the software runs on Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, iPhone, Symbian S60 and J2ME enabled phones. Your phone also needs to have a camera and internet access.

The idea behind this software is to allow users to get additional information about products and/or services by taking a photo of a tag (or barcode).

Here is a tag I created and added to my email signature. If a user with one of the phones listed above snaps a picture of my tag, it will bring him/her to this Blog (try it! You need to put your camera really close to the screen).

How about this idea for a tag(s):

I negotiate an advertising fee with Microsoft and a bunch of retailers (restaurants, stores, etc…) in the UDistrict (that’s near the University of Washington where my son attends) who would be willing to offer some sort of discount to persons via the tag. I then make a T-shirt with all of the tags on it that my son can wear throughout the day, advertising the retailer discounts.

I see several benefits:

1. The advertisers have increased traffic and revenue in their stores
2. My son makes a lot of new friends and becomes famous as a walking billboard
3. I make money to pay for my son’s education

How would you use the tags in your life? Drop me a comment with your brilliant ideas…

The Death of Vanity Telephone Numbers

I discovered today that Vanity telephone numbers are on their way out. What do I mean by this? First a little history: In the 1960’s, the telecommunications industry created the DTMF (dual-tone multi-frequency) system. This technology is the basis for our touch-tone telephone which replaced the old rotary phone systems. Long story short, it made dialing a telephone number much easier. Growing up, we had a rotary phone in our home (in fact, my grandmother still has one in her apartment!). Our telephone number was (415) 397-0973. If you are old enough to remember rotary phones, you’ll understand how difficult this number would be to dial (especially the 9’s and 0’s). It would often take me many attempts to dial home, as I would put my finger in the wrong hole, or forget which number I was on.

Alas, I digress… Back to the topic at hand…

So, today I was in my car talking to my insurance agent, trying to file a claim. My agent gave me the claims number and said ” just dial 1-800-allstate“. She even offered to do a conference call and dial the number for me. Being the independent person that I am, I declined and stated that I would make the call myself and hung up.

Here’s where the story gets interesting…

So, I’m driving in my car, trying to dial at the same time. On my previous cell phone, this would not have been a problem, as the keypad had the alphabet stamped on each number. You know the sequence right? ABC, DEF, GHI, JKL…

Guess what? I just got a new BlackBerry! Here’s what my new phone looks like:

Notice anything different about it?

Yeah. The letters under my keypad are different than my old cell phone.

So I’m driving in my car, trying to remember what letters are associated with what numbers. I’m trying to call 1-800-allstate by dialing 1-800-144-6717. I get a message stating “The number or code you have dialed is incorrect”. Darn! I try again. Let’s see, #1 is ABC, #2 is DEF, #3 is GHI… Still no luck. I then called my girlfriend for help. Only then am I reminded that the letters start at #2, not #1. How stupid is that? So the actual number I should have dialed is 1-800-255-7828.

With the BlackBerry phone’s rising popularity, maybe allstate should change their number to 1-800-EDD-ZXEX. On the other hand, maybe they don’t want people dialing their claims line anyway…

A home for sale in Woodinville

I just listed a home in Woodinville on 1.35 acres. It has 4 bedooms, 2 1/2 baths and a 2 car garage. Ordinary you say? Perhaps, but what makes this property special are the other features like a huge shop (big enough for 6 cars) plus a 1 bedroom/den apt with 1 1/2 baths. IF that wasn’t enough, there is also RV parking and a potential for equestrian usage (there’s a fenced pasture). And, it is pretty close to the Tolt Pipeline. Now that’s special…

The value of an Open House?

So, I’m sitting here at my new listing (see previous post) on Sunday July 6th waiting for the right buyer to drop in and make an offer on this great home. Yesterday, I knocked on doors within the neighborhood letting folks know that I just listed a home in their neighborhood. I handed out flyers and let everyone know that I would be holding the home open today from 1-4pm.

I’ve spoken to many other agents in the area who think door knocking and Open Houses are a waste of their time. They would rather stay home and complain about how bad the market is. In this slower market, I think a good agent has to think outside of the box and do things that may be outside of their comfort zone. Knocking on doors and sitting an Open House isn’t the most exciting way to market a home, but I did get to meet several of the neighbors, and one of them even recognized my name from some of the other homes I’ve sold in the neighborhood.