Archive for April, 2013

April 25, 2013

Homesale Launches Paperless Transaction System

dotloop-peoplework

Partnered with dotloop, Homesale is creating a more digital real estate experience. dotloop eliminates the need for paperwork, provides a streamlined process and allows our agents to spend more time better serving their clients. Giving our agents and their clients the ability to negotiate, collaborate, e-sign, and close deals, all in one place, will result in saving an average of up to 10 hours per transaction.

In December of 2012, Homesale started developing a system that is fully supported in-house and compliments the dotloop Support Team. The goal was not only to provide a product but to provide full support for agents of all different technology levels. Jen Brown, Project and Training Manager from our Agent Services Department, is heading the project. She has worked with each office to customize the system to the local business processes in each of the areas we serve and has organized training and follow-up support for our agents and back office staff as well. We systematically launched first in our Wyomissing office as a beta in March then followed by our Harrisburg Region in April and the rest of the 27 locations will launch in May.

Rick Doyle, President of Realty Operations stated, “ I am proud of how seamless the launch process has been. It is great to have Jen lead our team of 1300 people into a completely paperless real estate age. We are happy to employ a technology for all of our customers and clients that will make the home buying process even more efficient. ”

Agents are excited to have one place to share, sign and store all of the documents related to a transaction.

Randy Quinby - Wyo“Embracing dotloop has given me something that I couldn’t find anywhere else in this business; time. It saves time printing documents, scanning them to e-mail, and waiting hours to get them back from your client. The system is easy to use and has a unique interface that allows you as an agent to appear ahead of the curve with technology but is simplistic at the same time. If you forget a document, you can easily send it on the go between showings or appointments via a smartphone, which will prove to be a lifesaver!”Randy Quinby, Wyomissing Office

cathy-kopicz-wyo1“dotloop and me did not get off to a happy start. I had to go through quite a few phone calls to get up and running. However, it was worth the time. It is really going to be beneficial to streamline and share our documents. We can also store documents – such as the AOS we use for Freddie Mac property in there as well (as a template). Of course, I am sure we only touched the tip of the value of this program. You can scan all your docs into the Loop – no more huge copy fees for us! This is the wave of new technology and I believe we have no choice but to embrace the changes and give them our best shot.”Cathy Kopicz, Wyomissing Office

April 18, 2013

Plant a Tree (Earth Day)

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

earth-dayEarth Day is right around the corner (April 22) and planting a tree is a great way to show your support.  Finding the perfect tree is not as simple as it sounds.  Here are some suggestions on those you should consider planting in your yard and the trees you may want to avoid.

You should first consider what you are looking for in a tree; amount of shade, the size, shape, blossom production, and the attraction of birds or wildlife.  Then do a little research to find out which trees thrive best in the area where you live.

A few top choices…

  • Red Maple –     Most common tree in Eastern U.S., it is adaptable to a wide variety of conditions.  Often used for shade and medium to high quality lumber.
  • Yellow Poplar –     Also called the Tulip tree because of the beautiful yellow blooms that reach from top to bottom.  It is a tall, fast growing tree, without the common problem of weak wood strength.
  • Red Oak –     Not usually very tall, but great for shade.  Leaves in the spring are a delicate silvery, pink and change to a yellow, green before finally turning red in the fall.
  • Dogwood –     A beautiful, blooming tree in the spring that attracts small birds.  Historically popular for wood strength, it was also used in inks and dyes and for the treatment of dogs with mange, which may be how it got its name.
  • Sycamore –     The sycamore is able to endure a big city environment and has been extensively planted as a shade tree.  It bears transplanting well and grows rapidly.
  • American Holly –    It will grow in both dry and swampy soil, but grows slowly.  Holly is also a cold-tolerant plant, playing an important role as a survival food for birds, who will eat the berries after other food sources are exhausted.
  • Redbud –     They are characterized by simple, rounded to heart-shaped leaves and pinkish-red flowers borne in the early spring on bare leafless shoots, on both branches and the trunk.
  • Conifers –    Conifers are of immense, ecological importance. They are the dominant plants over huge areas of land.  They are also of great economic value; primarily used for timber and paper production.

Skip these…

  • Silver Maple –     Great shade tree, but the speed at which it grows makes for weak, brittle wood that may break during severe storms.  The shallow roots invade sewer pipes and drain fields and are notorious for cracking driveways and walkways.
  • Ash –     Threatened by the emerald ash borer beetle that is on track to wipe out this tree species.  If you want something long term, look elsewhere.
  • Quaking Aspen –     Root system sends up suckers that try to turn into new trees.  Once established it just takes over.
  • Willow –     Beautiful on the outside, yes, but the willow has an aggressive, water-hungry root system that terrorizes drain fields, sewer lines, and irrigation pipes. The wood is weak and prone to cracking, and the tree is relatively short-lived, lasting only about 30 years.
  • Eucalyptus —     This tree has a bad reputation for suddenly and unexpectedly dropping big, heavy, resin-filled branches.  The showy bark peels off annually and adds to seasonal maintenance chores.
  • Mountain Cedar –     This bushy tree releases massive amounts of pollen during the cooler months, causing severe allergic reactions in many people. Even if you don’t have allergies, planting one in your yard may affect neighbors.
  • Mulberry –     Big surface roots, lots of pollen, messy fruit, and shade so dense that grass refuses to grow underneath…and silkworms love it!!  The mulberry is the silkworm’s only source of food.

Our planet is in desperate need of more trees to replace the billions lost in development.  Planting a tree every year will add beauty to your yard, increase your home’s value, and help to make our planet a better place to live!

April 17, 2013

April To-Do List

April 2013 IOV - Ecard

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“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.”
- William Shakespeare

Spring is in full-swing….let it inspire you to make the most of this month! It’s a terrific time to get out into the fresh air and to let the fresh air in as well! Here are a few ideas to get you started…

  • Inspect window screens for tears/bent frames, clean with a mild soap and soft bristle brush; allow to dry thoroughly before installing.
  • Cleaning the carpets is another way to bring a fresh feel to your home. Rent a carpet steamer or call in a professional.
  • Get out into the garden. Clean up leftover leaves and debris, turn the soil allowing it to breathe, and get prepared for planting.
  • Check garden hoses for leaks; repair or replace damaged hoses. Do not leave hoses connected to an outdoor spigot until the danger of frost is completely over!
  • Pre-plant your herbs. Start them in smaller, indoor pots and transplant to larger outdoor pots or beds when the time is right.
  • Inspect outdoor structures for deterioration – especially signs of rot. Check fences, railings, window sills. Plan to repair or replace any damage you discover once the weather turns fair.
  • Prepare for the outdoor cooking season! Inspect your grill; replace any worn or damaged parts. Remove and clean cooking grates with soapy water and a brass bristle brush. Remove grease from lava rocks or briquettes by turning them over, igniting the burners, and allowing the heat to “clean” them for 10 minutes. Check propane levels to ensure your grill is ready when you are!
  • For a real seasonal shift…change over cushions, sheets, and throws to lighter or brighter colors. Pick colors that will compliment what is already there.
  • Inspect the washing machine. Turn off the water, remove the supply hoses and examine them and the washers. Replace worn or damaged parts.
  • Last but not least….Get your bikes out of the shed, dust them off, and have them tuned-up by a pro!

Tackle these items early in the month so you can get out, get active, and make the most of the warm weather before it is gone again!

April 15, 2013

Q1 Consumer Outlook Survey (Infographic)

Consumer confidence in real estate and home prices reaches a year-long high. Buyers and sellers are motivated entering the spring buying season.

q1-info-graphic2013

Want more information on today’s real estate market? Contact a Prudential Homesale Real Estate Agent today.

April 8, 2013

Deck Prep for Summer

deckforsummerYour deck has missed you all winter and is craving some attention! Early spring is the time to begin preparing your deck for summer so it will be ready when all the fun, family festivities begin. There are at least four basic tasks you should perform; safety check, cleaning, treatment, and finishing touches. Here are some tips to point you in the right direction.

Safety check – These items should be checked each spring. Keeping your family and friends safe is top priority! Follow this list to check for possible safety issues:

  • Split/Decaying Wood – replace any found with new, sturdy pieces of wood.
  • Clean – Remove debris and mold that can be slippery.
  • Loose/Corroded Fasteners – Includes nails, screws, and anchors. Replace and/or tighten as needed.
  • Grills, fire pits, heaters – Make sure they are placed away from flammable surfaces. You can also buy a non-flammable pad to put beneath.
  • Railings/Banisters – Push on them to ensure they are secure and there is no “give”. Also check for proper height of railings (36”-42” std). Should also have a gap of no more than 4” between rails. 
  • Lighting/Electrical – Be sure all are working and clean. Should be adequate lighting on all steps, walkways. Avoid cords that can be a tripping hazard.
  • Stairs – Look for sagging boards to replace, make certain fasteners are tight. Keep clear of items that can present a tripping hazard.
  • Surrounding Trees – Check for damaged and decaying branches that could break free and fall onto the deck.

Cleaning – Remove any loose debris and leaves first. Most deck build-up can be removed with soap, water and a bristle brush. Heavier grime may require the use of a power washer, which can be rented if you do not own one. Furniture and umbrellas can be cleaned with a gentle water-dish detergent mixture. Harsh cleaners can strip them of their water resistant coating. A vacuum can be used to clean wicker furniture. Water fountains and bird baths can be cleaned with a bleach-water solution to kill algae. Be sure to rinse THOROUGHLY before filling. Now is also a good time to clean your grill and get it ready for your first cook-out!

Treatment – A good finish will protect your deck against the elements. It will prevent the deck from rotting and cracking, which can lead to serious safety issues. Remove old paint/stain with a deck stripper before applying a fresh coat. All items needed (and some guidance) can be found at a local hardware store. The best finishes are those that soak into the wood, rather than providing a surface film. Consider a finish that is water repellent, and provides UV and mildew protection.

Finishing Touches – After all safety checks, cleaning, and treatment tasks are finished you can have a little fun “dressing-up” your deck! There are so many fabulous, bright, patterned-cushions and pillows available. You can also accessorize with colorful vases, candles, wind chimes, etc. Don’t forget to place a few potted plants/flowers around, adding some extra “pops” of color!

Make your deck a safe, fun, comfortable spot for your family to enjoy
endless hours of outdoor fun together!

April 1, 2013

Clean like a Pro

Clean-like-a-pro…or at least make your home look professionally cleaned! Can’t afford a cleaning service, you’re not alone. Here are some of the best tips from the pros. Follow these and your home won’t just look clean, it will look polished!!

Get streak free glass
No special, expensive cleaners needed. Spray regular glass cleaner on your windows and wipe off with a newspaper. Newspaper is lint free and leaves nothing behind.

Use the right cloth
Look for microfiber or terry cloth that feels comfortable in your hand. Fold into fourths, using a clean area as you move through your tasks. When laundering, avoid fabric softeners that reduce the effectiveness and absorbency of microfiber.

Don’t just mop the floor
Mopping isn’t enough, mop your floors and then wipe them dry with a microfiber towel. A wet floor can dry with streaks and attract dust from the air. It takes a little longer, but the floor will look better and stay cleaner about a week longer.

Invest in a good feather duster
An ostrich-feather duster is a fast, effective way to remove dust (unless you have allergies). They are great for knick-knacks, vents, and light fixtures. Some even have handles that can extend your reach to get to shelves, fans, etc. A good one can last for years.

Vacuum Cleaner
A good vacuum cleaner is essential. Frequent, thorough vacuuming will help extend your carpet life and control allergens. A nimble, lightweight vacuum with a high-efficiency filter and good airflow is the best. You’re more likely to vacuum, if it is easy to operate and move around. Onboard tools are great, if they stay on board. Make sure they fit snugly and are in the right spot when you need them. Good cord length is one that allows you to clean the largest room in your home from one central outlet.

Cleaning Products
You don’t need to have every type of product that you find in the grocery store. A few good ones will do just fine. For routine cleaning you should have a glass or all-purpose cleaner, soap scum remover, floor cleaner, furniture polish and a gentle scouring powder.

Don’t forget the Fixtures
Many of us are guilty of cleaning only what we see. A good rule-of-thumb…clean from the top to the bottom. Use a long handled duster to reach the ceiling, light fixtures, and other high spots. Continue cleaning your way down, until finally reaching the floor. Cleaning above your sight line makes a room look much cleaner.

Simple, essential tools and a little bit of knowledge will get the best results in the shortest amount of time. Save yourself time and money by following these terrific suggestions.

Are you selling your home and want more advise on how to prepare your home for sale? Check out some of these other great real estate articles;

Smells that make your house sell | De-cluttering your home | Fixing up your garage

Tips for Sellers

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