Learn To Say YES!

This is a contributor post by Lori Arnold, broker/owner of Coldwell Banker Apex, Realtors

A few months ago, I had the privilege of speaking to the latest class of Ascend Leadership Summit participants at the Realogy headquarters in New Jersey. It’s always an inspirational opportunity for me as the new leaders are so excited about their careers and what the future holds for each of them. As much as I love my home state of Texas, I also LOVE New York City.  Anytime I can get close to NYC, I am going to find an excuse to spend a few days there. I arranged a long weekend in NYC before going to the Realogy headquarters with my daughter-in-law, who happens to be our Marketing Director, and my sister-in-law, who happens to be a mortgage superstar.

To add a bit of context, I have to share a few things that led up to the Ascend Leadership Summit. About a year, some of my fellow CB owners pointed out that my company was the largest woman owned and operated Coldwell Banker affiliate in the US based on closed sales. And for the record, they were all guys. Frankly, I had never given much thought to that fact before that day.  To say I am passionate about my business and leading my agents is a bit of an understatement for anyone who knows me. I am busy each day building something that I hope matters to those around me and contributing in a way that leaves a legacy. I am highly competitive and want to win in my market simply because I know we are the best so thinking from only a “women’s perspective” never occurred to me. Once we began sharing the fact that Coldwell Banker Apex is the #1 woman owned and operated CB in the US, I felt a calling to do more for women in our community to hopefully inspire and motivate them in their own personal journey. A quarterly meeting for area real estate professionals called “Listings & Life With Lori” was born from that idea. For the first time in my career, the idea of women leading and supporting each other was really on my mind.

On our NYC girls’ trip, we were shopping in a stationery shop in Grand Central Station when I saw a “big green button” novelty item that had the word “YES” written on it.  You pressed the YES button, and it audibly shouted “YES!”. I began chatting with a sales person about the YES button, and she went on to tell me that they had NO buttons too, but those sold out immediately, while the YES buttons were slow sellers.

Oh my. My mind immediately went to the true-life application of that lesson. Why would the NO buttons sell out fast while the YES buttons lingered on the shelf? One of the principles of the Coldwell Banker Apex leadership staff is that we try to say YES! as often as we can.  Can I market my team this way? YES! Can you assist me in getting this tool set up? YES! I want to think a little outside the box and implement this new marketing idea. Can I do it? YES!  I know I did not follow the process, but I need this today, can you help me? YES! Although it sounds intuitive, it really is not. It’s much easier to say “No, you can only do it this way” or “No, you need to follow the system.”  No stifles originality, new thinking and progress towards goals we have not yet set!

As I reflected on YES, I realized how important that one little word has been in my real estate journey.  I got my license at 19 years old. Often people thought my clients were the Realtor instead of me! I could have said, “No, I am too young to succeed in real estate.” In 1993, when we joined Coldwell Banker, I did not have the funds to purchase the franchise without borrowing it. I could have said, “No, it’s just too much risk to commit to a franchise when I don’t even have the money to get started,” but instead I said YES! When Coldwell Banker assigned me an incredible mentor to guide me and he shared ideas of what I needed to do, I could have said “No, I can’t do that idea.” Honestly, I was so afraid to implement many of the ideas he suggested. At that time, I truly loved and excelled at selling real estate, but only in a one-on-one setting. The idea of speaking up in public was way out of my comfort zone. I was so timid that I would not even share about my new listings at the local MLS meetings. Those that know me now do not believe that story, but it is the truth. I ignored my fears and just did what my mentor told me to do. I said YES! When we wanted to grow, and it was time to open another office from scratch, as a start up, I said YES! I had no idea how to open a successful office and really didn’t even realize how risky start up offices were and how many start up offices fail to launch. I said, “Yes, let’s do it!”  We’ve now opened 11 start up offices, with plans of opening more in the future.

We often say NO to the things we should say YES to while saying YES to things we should say NO. We say YES to things we feel obligated to do and NO to the things that would drive our goals forward. The question becomes, what should we say YES to?

  1. Say YES to things that you fear but you believe are important for your growth. You don’t know what you can accomplish until you say YES. You have no idea how much capability you have until you say YES.
  2. Say YES to mentors. Mentors are a HUGE component in growth. A good mentor will challenge you and hold you accountable. They will inspire you. Find a mentor and say YES to what they tell you to do.
  3. Say YES to learning from others. Anyone. Not just those you feel are ahead of you in the journey but anyone. Being open to learning exposes you to growth you don’t even know is possible, while learning from those who are behind you on the journey keeps your ego in check. They do know more than you in lots of areas that matter.
  4. Say YES to a big dream. Chances are, you are not dreaming NEARLY big enough. I know I didn’t. But if you say YES when you are scared (revisit #1 if you need to!), your dreams will grow as fast as you grow.
  5. Say YES to giving back. That is why I went to New York City in the first place. So many people in the Coldwell Banker system have given to me. They have invested in my life and my company. I need to say YES to giving back every time I can.

Today, we have 15 offices with 650 of the most talented, successful, kind, warm human beings that work together as a team at Coldwell Banker Apex.  Truly remarkable, inspirational people who work collaboratively in an industry that sometimes is filled with ego and drama instead of collaboration. I look around at this group, and I am truly amazed at the blessings that have come my way through these people. As I look back from where I am at today, I wonder what would have happened if I said NO, and I am so grateful I said YES. Now, I need to buy that YES button!

If you’re a part of the Coldwell Banker network and interested in listening to the next Women in Leadership call, be sure to visit CB Exchange and search “Women in leadership” to find out the details.

Top Three Devices Buyers will Love – and What I’ll be Looking for at CES


The following post is a guest contribution from Angel Piontek, associate broker and vice president of marketing at Coldwell Banker Elite.

The popularity of smart home devices has continually increased year over year.  In 2019, 33.2% of households are equipped with smart home devices, and this figure is expected to rise to 53.9% by 2023.  The increasing popularity and ubiquity of these connected devices can be used as a marketing differentiator when selling a home.  New home builders are incorporating smart home in their offerings and buyers are already starting to expect move-in ready homes to have smart home upgrades. And that’s why I’m back for my third year in a row at CES. Below are three smart home classics that buyers always love. I’ll be looking out for new takes on these old favorites, as well as mind blowing innovations, and sharing what I find all month long.

Using smart home devices as a marketing tool can be tricky.  Be sure to install devices from brands consumers will recognize.  Privacy and security is a concern for many, so using reliable and recognizable brands will help put those buyers at ease.  Here are the top three devices you should consider including when selling your home that will attract buyers.

A smart doorbell camera

Chances are, you’ve seen porch pirate videos online.  They make a pretty compelling argument for installing a camera with a clear view of your front porch.  They not only alert you when there is motion detected but some devices use facial recognition technology that lets you know when a stranger is at the door.  In most cases, an associated app on your smart phone will send you a push notification when someone rings the doorbell, enabling you to speak to your visitor in real time.  Most smart doorbell cameras also store recorded video and audio, depending on the settings you choose.  The 24-hour surveillance gives homeowners peace of mind.

A smart lock

Gone are the days when you had to hide a key under a fake rock.  A smart lock provides convenience, security, and safety.  You can give virtual keys to neighbors, visiting family members, or your cleaning company. Since the keys are virtual, they can be set as temporary or simply revoked when no longer needed.  An activity log will allow you to see a complete history of who has accessed your home, complete with dates and exact times.  Remote access will let you lock and unlock your door from anywhere that you have a smart phone, tablet, or computer, with internet access.  Some are equipped with geofencing which will allow you to automatically lock your doors when your phone is outside the configured perimeter.  Buyers will love the security and peace of mind that smart locks can provide.

A smart learning thermostat

A smart thermostat is an investment that will actually save you money.  From energy conservation to convenience, it’s a must-have smart home device.  The best smart thermostats learn your habits and create a schedule based on your actual usage.  You will be able to control your heating and cooling system even when you’re away from home.  Buyers will love that they will be saving money on utilities.

Each of these devices typically range in price between $200 – $300.  There are many other smart home devices that can attract buyers depending on where you live.  For example, if you live in an area where water management is important, it may be worth investing in a smart sprinkler system. Since these systems use environmental sensors to collect information about weather conditions real time, this is a great way to adjust automatically and reduce water consumption. A smart sprinkler system also lets you easily schedule waterings, and some will even allow you to create watering zones in your yard.

If you’re a buyer looking at a home with smart devices installed, devices like smart light bulbs and voice assistants are considered personal property and may not convey with the sale.  If there’s a question of conveyance, get things in writing up front.  It will save you a lot of unnecessary annoyance at closing if everyone is on the same page.  It’s important to work with an agent who knows smart home whether you’re buying or selling.


If you’re already affiliated with Coldwell Banker and want to learn more about our smart home resources, visit CB Exchange and search “Smart Home.”

If you would like to know what Coldwell Banker agents have access to, head to https://www.coldwellbanker.com/careers and explore the possibilities of moving your business to Coldwell Banker.

How to Prepare Your Home This Winter for a Successful Spring Sale

If you are planning to sell your home next spring, why not get a jumpstart during the fall /winter season so you have more time and less stress while preparing? An added plus is that your home could potentially be ready to list in time for the early spring selling season at the end of January when the market is less crowded. It’s a win-win! Here’s our go-to list of what sellers should be doing now to ensure for a successful sale next spring.

1. Assess Your Home’s Condition – Inside & Out

The first step is to do a thorough walk-thru with an objective eye. Does it have “move-in ready appeal” that will “wow” young, savvy buyers? Is there chipped paint on moldings and trim? Is the front entry carpet runner worn and could benefit from replacing? Look at your property through the lens of your buyer and determine what needs the most attention so that Millennials with families can immediately connect and envision themselves living there with minimal work to do when they move in. 

2. First Impressions Go a Long Way

With the changing seasons, try to tackle exterior repairs and landscaping while you can by keeping gutters clean, lawn raked, shrubs trimmed and driveways/walkways shoveled. For an inviting front porch with curb appeal, maintain a polished look each season with welcoming accents such as potted evergreens or berry branches, a beautiful wreath on the door, glowing lanterns, and a colorful welcome mat.

Living Room Staged by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

3. Remove Distractions & Get Organized

Tackle clutter one room at a time and decide whether to keep or purge items based on when you last touched or used it. Remove personal items, collectibles and excessive furniture that distract from the room’s key features as well as its perceived size and flow. Then organize the remaining items with efficient storage solutions such as baskets and containers for closets, drawers and cabinets.

Library Staged by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

4. Make it Fresh & Bright 

Ask yourself if the color on the walls and cabinets is too dark? Does wallpaper need to be removed? Are window treatments dated and heavy? Does worn carpet need replacing? Do hardwood floors need polishing? Simply adding a fresh coat of neutral “greige” paint to dark walls will brighten the room by creating a backdrop to showcase the other elements in the room, such as the white trim, new carpeting, wall art, and furniture (as shown in library above).

Living Room Staged by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

5. Create the “Wow Factor”

Once you’ve invested in the necessary upgrades for move-in ready appeal, buyers still need to emotionally connect by envisioning how their furnishings will look in the space. Staging a home is an investment in getting the property sold and for top dollar. Professional stagers can create the “wow” factor that might be needed after all of the repairs and upgrades are finished. Complete the look with strategically placed modern furniture paired with pops of colorful and inviting accents that will make a lasting impression as pictured in the living room photo above. 

For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com.

5 Tips for Staying Organized in the New Year

The following is a guest post from The Closet Works, Inc.

Each new year is a time for goal-setting and renewal. If you’re like so many others out there, you may have set your sights on getting organized in 2019—knowing what you have and where it’s located throughout your house, from your bedroom closet to your home office.

It seems like a relatively straightforward task—but if it was that easy, wouldn’t we all be organized all the time? So many of us get stuck before we truly get started and can’t seem to stay organized over time.

If you’re planning to focus on organization in the new year, here are some tips that will set you up for success.

1. Define a Decluttering Process

Whether you’re planning to declutter your entire house over a weekend or focus on just your master bedroom closet, it’s best to determine your process before you start. The best way to start getting organized is to get the full view of what you have by taking everything out of the space, reviewing it and then deciding what stays and what goes. For your closet, you should consider donating items you haven’t worn in a year or two and discarding garments that are stained or can’t be repaired. 

Decluttering your home office is similar—remove all bills, files, equipment and anything else that’s hiding in a drawer and keep what’s necessary and shred, donate or digitize the rest. Creating a repeatable process will not only make the decluttering feel more manageable, it’ll set you up for success.

2. Tackle Clutter Little By Little to Avoid Getting Overwhelmed

Part of the reason many people aren’t able to get and stay organized is because they see it as a big project—but it doesn’t have to be. If a full-house declutter isn’t in the cards for you this week, tackling clutter little by little could be. Creating a checklist (or downloading this one) that guides you to clean out a different small area each day can help your home feel more organized in just a few weeks.

  1. Give Yourself a Deadline

You’ve got a plan to get organized—now it’s up to you to actually do the work. If you’re enlisting the help of a professional organizer or a custom closet company, they’ll work with you to plan when your custom organization system will be installed. Then, you can work backward to figure out when you need to organize your closet, mudroom, pantry or office.

If you’re not working with a custom organization company, you’ve got some more wiggle room. Whatever you do, set a deadline, but be realistic! Create a schedule that includes extra time in case life gets in the way.

  1. Avoid Distractions

To help you meet the goal you’ve set, work without being distracted. That might mean scheduling time to organize a particular room in your house or a specific part of your closet, such as your shoes or accessories. When that time comes, put your phone in another room for distraction-free organizing and start decluttering. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done with just a little bit of focused work.

When you’ve finished reviewing your old clothes and sorting them into piles, for example, reward yourself with a short break.

5. Consider Getting Help from the Pros

The best way to stay organized is to have a place for everything—down to the last bangle bracelet, watch, belt and handbag. And sometimes, the best way to do that is to enlist the help of a custom organization company. The Designers there can take a look at everything you need to organize and develop a plan for custom organization solutions that meet your needs—and fit all your stuff. Putting a custom solution in place will make storing your things—and finding them when you need them—a little easier.

Whether you’re moving into a completely new home or just looking to stay organized, following some simple decluttering tips can help you enjoy your spaces more and gain inspiration from them.

Why Leading Through Authenticity is More Critical Than Ever

This is a contributor post by Sue Yannaccone, regional executive VP, Eastern Seaboard and Midwest regions of  Coldwell Banker/NRT

There is an obvious lack of women in leadership positions across the board in just about any industry one looks at. Within my own industry, real estate, women make up nearly 70% of the industry yet rarely are represented at the top of the industry in leadership. Fortunately, Coldwell Banker Real Estate is facing this upwards mobility challenge within real estate through their work with WomanUP!® and by spotlighting the women who lead within the company.

Recently I was invited to lead a conversation with the women of Coldwell Banker on achieving dreams, leading through changing times and driving to results from the perspective of, well, a woman.

Why the perspective matters, I’ll get to. But first let me encapsulate my leadership philosophy, which focuses around authenticity and inspiration bolstered by execution in the form of accountability, and how critically important that is when leading through change.

Somewhere along my path, I realized that to be a true leader and gain a following, you must lead from your authentic self. A few game changing thoughts that I believe every aspiring leader (woman or man) should follow:

1) Do not create yourself in the likeness of what you think a leader should be, but rather through the likeness of yourself leading.

2) Don’t apologize for using your voice; but be sure to use it in ways you are proud of.

3) Don’t shy away from making tough decisions; but be sure they are in fact your decisions because you, and you alone, must own them.

4) Don’t create a look, a feel, a perspective that blends in with all others; Amplify your unique perspective and approach to create your unique path to success.

It boils down to something as simple as this…do not create yourself in the likeness of what you think a leader should be, but rather through the likeness of yourself leading. The amount of energy it takes to show up in the guise of what you believe someone else expects is exhausting and that energy is better channeled to excel in your career. Also, the people who chose to put you in a position of leadership put you there for who you are or else they would have selected someone else.

And remember when on that path, a true leader is less consumed with their individual results than those of the overall organization. That perspective is typically fueled by a belief in the mission, belief in the company for which you work and the charge you are leading. And when that company you believe in is faced with change, focus on understanding the case for change through a clear and open mind.

Great success lies in one’s ability to harness the power that comes with change; by embracing the opportunity that is created when a business, market or organization is faced with a new direction for the future. As a leader, it’s my role to get others to share that view. To galvanize the masses and charge up the hill.

It is in these moments that the ability to inspire others to be the best version of themselves is critically important. Even more, it is imperative that you provide your team the tools, support and coaching to achieve greatness. While that may sound somewhat altruistic, and maybe it is, think for a minute about the best leaders you’ve seen — do they charge up said hill alone? Or do they have an army behind them working together to get to the top?

As a leader I believe it is my responsibility to build future leaders, to take those who have the talent, the passion and the commitment to the next level. I am all in when they are. I will provide the tools, support, guidance and coaching to succeed. And I will hold them accountable to doing their job.

Being held accountable to accomplishing a goal is a good thing; it means the goal matters to the organization and it means your success matters to your leaders. We fail as leaders if we don’t clearly set expectations, consistently measure performance, report back and, importantly, coach our team when needed.

Now, why does a women’s perspective on this matter? Honestly it shouldn’t. But it does because there are aren’t a sufficient number of us leading the charge up the hill. Are we afraid to inspire others to “dream big” or are we afraid to do so ourselves? Are we hesitant to hold other’s accountable or to hold ourselves accountable? Do we fear how we will be perceived if we grab that seat at the table or if we fail? I have no idea, but I do know that too often we look for someone to follow rather than lead and we wait for someone else to define our path, our limits.

In a time of constant change the pressure to conform can be great. During these times it is most important to be your authentic self as your sustainable success depends on it. It is my personal goal to inspire women to set their sights higher, to know that they can achieve their dreams, no matter how big. And if no one else is doing it, hold yourself accountable because sooner or later I know you’ll be in a position to do the same for others.

If you’re a part of the Coldwell Banker network and interested in listening to the next Women in Leadership call, be sure to visit CB Exchange and search “Women in leadership” to find out the details.

12 Ways to Curb Sugar Cravings at Home

 

We’ve all had it—that intense feeling when you get home from work, or while you’re watching late-night TV, when you need to have a piece of chocolate right this minute. While satisfying your sweet tooth may feel good at the time, giving into sugar cravings too often can wreak havoc on your health and waistline. Here’s the scoop on why you should rein in your sweet tooth, and how to do it.

The Dirty on Sugar

“Added sugars” are sugars and syrups added to processed foods while they’re being made. They’re not the same as naturally occurring sugars in foods like fruit or milk, which also provide vital nutrients like calcium, vitamin A and vitamin C. Added sugars come with calories but have little to no vitamins and minerals. And when you go overboard on calories, it can lead to weight gain.

What’s more, a study in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that having too much added sugar in your diet can raise your risk of dying from heart disease. Other research shows that added sugar is linked with type 2 diabetes, obesity, cavities and certain types of cancer.

How Much Is Too Much

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans say to limit added sugars to no more than 10% of your total calories per day. This means if you consume 2,000 calories each day, no more than 200 calories, or about 50 grams of sugar, should come from added sugar. If that sounds like a lot, consider this: One can of cola contains a whopping 41 grams of sugar. This is why it can be easy to exceed the limit.

Where the Sugar Hides

A high amount of added sugar isn’t just in obvious treats like soda, candy and ice cream. In fact, much of the sugar people consume today is in processed foods that we don’t consider sweets. It’s added to frozen meals to enhance flavor and pasta sauces to balance out the acidity. Added sugar may also lurk in protein bars, cereals, barbecue sauces, ketchup and sports drinks.

Finding out how much added sugar is in your food and drinks can be tricky, because the nutrition label does not differentiate between sugars that are added and those that occur naturally. Instead of relying on the number of grams listed on the label, check out ingredient lists to learn how much sugar has been added to a product. Some common names for added sugars include:

  • Corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Malt syrup
  • Molasses
  • Honey
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • Maltose
  • Lactose
  • Sucrose
  • Trehalose
  • Invert sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Turbinado sugar
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Fruit juice concentrate

If any of these names show up first or second on the ingredient list, the item is likely packed with sugar. Consider swapping it for a healthier choice.

How to Kick Your Sweet Tooth to the Curb

Sugar tastes good and it surrounds us, so controlling your cravings is often no easy feat. But know that with the right tools and mindset, you can tame your sweet tooth and reduce your sugar intake, replacing nutritionally-void choices with options that are higher in vitamins and minerals. Try these tips:

1. Go cold turkey.
Some people find it’s best to avoid all added sugars to nip their cravings. With this approach, the first 48-72 hours will likely be especially challenging, but some people say that their cravings go away within a few days. Remember to read labels closely since sugar is hidden in many packaged foods.

2. Give in a little.
On the other hand, giving up sugar altogether isn’t for everyone. In fact, being too restrictive can backfire and cause you to crave sugar more. Then you may overindulge and feel guilty. Allowing yourself one small treat each day may keep you from overdoing it.

3. Avoid processed foods.
Sugar is added to most processed foods to enhance flavor and extend shelf life. Swapping processed foods for whole foods, including vegetables, fruits, whole grain products, lean sources of protein and dairy can help lower your overall sugar intake.

4. Eliminate temptations.
You may be more likely to eat sugar if you can get it easily. Clear the candy bar stash from your cupboards and avoid the snack aisle at the grocery store. When you host gatherings, send guests home with leftover treats. Out of sight, out of mind.

5. Keep a bowl of fruit on the counter.
If the urge for sweets strikes and you can’t resist it, have a piece of fruit instead. Its natural sweetness should quench your craving, and it will give you a dose of vitamin-rich nutrition. Stock up on apples, oranges, watermelon and berries so you’re always ready the moment a craving hits.

6. Roast your veggies.
It’s true—you can satisfy your desire for sugar by eating vegetables. This is because roasting veggies brings out their natural sweetness. Try roasting sweet potatoes, purple cabbage and Brussels sprouts for a tasty, nutritious treat.

7. Schedule snacks and meals.
It’s not uncommon to mistake hunger for a sugar craving. Eat healthy meals and snacks at set times to prevent yourself from feeling famished and making unhealthy food choices. Keep snacks at your desk and in your car. You’ll always be prepared with a nutritious option when hunger strikes.

8. Buy single servings.
If you really want ice cream, don’t purchase a half gallon. Instead, buy a single serving size. This way, once you’ve eaten it, it’s gone. The rest of the ice cream won’t be in the freezer tempting you to polish off the carton.

9. De-stress.
A lot of people eat when they’re stressed. But it’s not usually broccoli we’re reaching for. Studies show that people crave “comfort foods” (foods often high in sugar and fat) when they’re under physical or emotional stress. Finding ways to ease stress may keep you from turning to sweets. Consider taking up exercise or trying meditation to combat stress.

10. Distract yourself.
Cravings tend to be short-lived. Instead of giving into a craving when it hits, take a break from whatever task you’re doing. Go on a short walk or call a friend. Distracting yourself for a few minutes can make you forget about a craving.

11. Keep a journal.
When you crave sugar, make a note of the time, the food you want, how you feel and how you avoided giving in. Eventually, you may notice a pattern and learn what strategies work best to beat your cravings. Then you’ll be better equipped to overcome cravings in the future.

12. Enlist a buddy.
Don’t go at it alone. Ask a friend or family member to cut down on sugar with you. Having a buddy can help you stay motivated and hold you accountable. Plus, you can trade tips on how you’ve cut down on sugar.

The Coldwell Banker Way of Culture

Products evolve. Technology inevitably improves. Exciting advertising campaigns shift conversation and hopefully make a real impact.  Everything changes. Yet, the one constant I’ve noticed in my 12 year career with Coldwell Banker is that there’s a special kind of person who joins this legacy brand – whether it’s here at the Corporate headquarters or out there at one of the 3,000+ offices across the globe. 

Our company was founded by two “twenty-somethings” in 1906 because they wanted to protect homebuyers from unscrupulous predatory real estate practices following the “Great San Francisco Earthquake.” That initial commitment to ethics and doing right by their customers and community is at the core of who we still are 112+ years later. Over 90,000 agents and countless others have taken that legacy, carried it on and even built upon it. Today, Coldwell Banker is home to some of the most successful, talented, driven, charitable and inspirational people you could ever meet. Here are just two examples:

Coldwell Banker is Home To: No Limits 

Coldwell Banker is Home To: The American Dream 

Number 1 ranked advertising, over $148M in luxury home sales every day, a long and (dare I say impressive) list of industry-wide firsts and a commitment to technology and charity – these are hallmarks of the Coldwell Banker brand and a reflection of the caliber of people who call this brand home and bring this culture to life in communities small and large.

There’s a name for the Coldwell Banker Way of culture. A name that unites us all who hang our hat here. That name is Gen Blue. We can wax poetically and call upon the most flowery language to describe our culture, but our Gen Blue documentary is the single best manifestation of what makes our culture so unique and special. It is a film that follows a new and experienced agent as they attend last year’s epic Generation Blue Experience – a gathering of over 6,000 of our people to share ideas and move our company and industry forward. 

Gen Blue is more than just a conference, it is an experience. It is the manifestation of what makes Coldwell banker such an inspiring place to call home. Watch the full video here.

If you’re interested in joining a global legacy brand with a connected network of some of the industry’s best – visit coldwellbanker.com/careers. 

Understanding and Choosing Smart Home Products that Are Right for Your Lifestyle

Many people are drawn into the world of smart home technology by cool features like smart lights and smart assistants, because they help make life more convenient. But it can also be somewhat intimidating for people to get started when they’re faced with a bevvy of technical terms and limitless options. Getting past the jargon and understanding how smart home devices can work together can all add up to a much more convenient lifestyle.

Here’s how to figure out which smart home products can work best for you.

Consider How Devices Communicate

When you’re selecting smart home devices, you may come across the terms Insteon, Zigbee, and Z-Wave. These are different types of networks that smart home products use to communicate with one another. Insteon can communicate over a Wi-Fi network or through the existing electrical wiring in your walls, while Zigbee and Z-Wave communicate only through your Wi-Fi network.

The main thing to keep in mind is that there are compatibility differences to consider. Not all smart home products are compatible with these networks, but the vast majority of smart home products will work with Zigbee and Z-Wave.

Choose Devices that Can Simplify Your Life

The number of available smart home devices grows with each passing day. Where once there were only smart lights and security systems, now you can purchase everything from a connected oven to a smart robot that vacuums your home for you. The majority of newer products are compatible with most existing products, and even those that don’t work together straight out of the box can be made to work together through smart home hubs.

1. Security
Take a moment and think about the conveniences you want in your home. If you invest in only one type of smart home technology, make it a security system complete with security cameras. Connected home security systems make it easy to keep an eye on things around the house when you’re away, and even the presence of a security system can be enough to deter someone with malicious intent.

2. Smart lighting
For people who work out of the home, go away on vacation, or simply want an easier way to manage their lighting, smart lighting can help. With smart lights, you can control your lights from afar with a mobile app. Because smart lights have been around for a while, there are a lot of different options to fit every budget and color range.

3. Smart assistants
A smart assistant is just what it sounds like — a voice-activated device that can tell you everything from the news to the weather, control your smart home, play music, and much more. Although each device comes with varying levels of complexity, most of the difference lies in the volume level of the speaker.

4. Smart appliances
These days, you can connect everything from toaster ovens to washers and dryers. Most of these alert you via smartphone when something is finished cooking or a load of laundry is ready to go in the dryer, but certain appliances offer different features. Any homeowner with a busy schedule and lots of chores can benefit from the conveniences of managing appliances remotely.

5. Smart power strips and outlets
Smart outlets are one of the easiest ways to add smart home tech to your home without breaking the bank. Smart outlets can control the flow of power to and from a device. You can monitor the status of an outlet from your phone and turn it on or off. Are you one to leave the house and panic over whether the iron was plugged in? Next time, plug it into a smart outlet and you won’t have to worry.

6. Smart thermostats
Many people are introduced to smart home technology through a smart thermostat. These devices learn how you like your home to feel. If you keep it cooler at night and turn up the heat in the morning, a smart thermostat will pick up on that after a few days and adjust automatically. Like other smart devices, these can be controlled from your phone or via voice input with a smart assistant. They’re also an energy-saver. Homeowners who are concerned with energy efficiency would benefit from this device.

With these devices, you can get creative and customize them to the needs of your lifestyle. Services like If This, Then That (IFTTT) make it possible to connect devices together in ways you never would have imagined. You can also connect them through a smart home hub, like one provided by your internet service provider. For example, program a smart light next to your bed to simulate a sunrise if you have to wake up before dawn, and trigger your heat to turn on. Program smart lights to turn a certain color based on the temperature outside. Set your smart coffee pot to be linked to a motion sensor so that it begins brewing the moment you get out of bed. Make your life smarter, and a lot easier, with the limitless options.

3 Staging Touches That Up Your Chances of an Offer

It takes more than finding a realtor and posting a “For Sale” sign in the front yard for a successful home sale. Getting your house in order is the first step to a quick offer. The secret is to give potential buyers the opportunity to imagine their “stuff” and family living in the home. Plus, you want to put your home’s best foot forward and present it in the best possible light. Here are some tips to touch up your home staging to increase your chances of an offer.

1. Clear Out Your Belongings 

You may be attached to your stuff, but the first rule is to clean it up, clear it out and pack it all away. It can prevent new buyers from imagining the house as their own.

  • Pack away personal items like family photos and kid’s artwork for your new home.
  • Make sure toiletries, clothing, jewelry and accessories are in drawers and out of sight.
  • Eliminate excessive clutter. Display only a few generic items on your shelves and make sure the bathrooms are pristine.

Some rooms are harder to streamline, especially children’s or teens’ bedrooms. Clean them out and clear away as much clutter as your son or daughter will allow. Invest in covered containers that will fit under the bed or in the closet.

2. Make the Rooms Look Bigger

You want to make each room look as spacious as possible. Start with these tricks:

  • Take out some of the furniture. Move it to the basement or storage shed, or sell it if you won’t need it in your new place.
  • Clear off the kitchen counters.
  • Roll up area rugs, which tend to make rooms feel smaller.
  • Arrange furniture in intimate seating groups that encourage conversation and coziness. Don’t line everything up along the wall!

Installing curtains and blinds as close to the ceiling as possible draws the eye up and makes the room appear bigger. Panels should skim the floor. In this living room corner, a classic chair and small table before a window suggests to the future homeowner here is place for a morning cup of coffee in a well-lit room. 

3. Pay Attention to Your Decor

Highlight your home’s best features and downplay the less-than-perfect areas to create a welcoming space.

Paint is an easy fix. When possible, paint walls in pale, neutral colors like soft grey, beige and off-white. Neutral colors allow the buyer to imagine their own furniture in place. Plus, it screams “move-in ready.”

Don’t overlook the power of the view and the importance of natural light. Window treatments can help solve many issues. Windows without draperies make a room feel empty or undone. Curtains also help absorb sound in rooms with wood floors and they can hide an unsightly view or enhance a lovely one.

If a major selling point is your view – such as the ocean, the mountains or a gorgeous garden – don’t cover it up! Install stationary panel curtains that hang well off the window. If the scene outside is less than stellar (like an alleyway or the building next door), hang sheer draperies that allow the light in but camouflage the view.

As with paint color, choose drapery fabric in neutral colors and traditional patterns. This woven geometric check blends in with the rest of the space and will coordinate with almost any style of furnishings.

After the living room and kitchen, a great master bedroom is high on buyers’ checklists. In addition to natural light and the view, privacy is paramount.

Follow the same rules to make the space look bigger, hang as high as possible and skim the floor. Sheer curtains that can be closed allow light and hide an unappealing view while providing privacy. Keep surfaces clear of personal items and choose plain, neutral bedding. Open up the wall space with minimal artwork and move the excess furniture out. Buyers are looking for large rooms that feel serene and calm.           

Don’t forget to spruce up any secondary bedrooms as well. Keep the window treatments simple with Roman shades and valances. If the room needs a touch of color, a classic plaid or small print that works for boys and girls is in order. Temporarily replace superhero bedspreads with coverlets or duvets in solid colors and encourage your kids to keep their room neat and tidy.

Follow these few simple staging tips and your next showing could produce a winning offer.