Monday, April 23, 2012

Personal Branding: Tips to Build a Strong “Brand You”

Personal branding.

It’s something Realtors were doing long before social media and the internet made it hip. But being “brand you” goes deeper than your love of surfing or your wacky tie. It’s about knowing who you are and what you stand for.

It’s what you believe, and what you do.

And according to a new book titled “Shine: How To Survive And Thrive At Work,” motivational speaker Chris Bar├ęz-Brown asserts that to stand out, you need to be “a consistent and reliable brand.”

You need to be clear about who you are and why you do what you do. And then, do exactly what you say you’re going to do, and do it when you promised.

When it comes to building your personal real estate brand around this concept, testimonials from your past clients, combined with your track record of successful transactions can speak volumes about the work you do. Effectively branding yourself takes time, but the payoff can be tremendous.

To help you get started, here are a few tips that can help get you going in the right direction:
  • Live your brand through your actions. You are your brand, so make sure that everything you do is in line with your goals and objectives. Follow-up promptly. Deliver on your promises. Over-prepare for every appointment. Remember, you are your business, so every interaction you have with a person is a direct reflection of your brand. Make sure your interactions tie in tightly with your core beliefs.
  • Make sure your marketing collateral reflects who you are. Your website, emails, online listings, print pieces, and even the signs you use – they’re all a representation of you and your brand – and all your stuff needs to sing from the same song sheet. Colors and logos are important – but what’s critical is that the message you deliver to the consumers you serve is clear and consistent. If you pride yourself on working with first-time buyers, or focus your efforts on the military community, make it apparent in the materials you produce. You can’t be all things to all people, so focus on what’s important to you and your business, and then beat a steady drum with messaging that supports it.
  • Be consistent and predictable. People like knowing what to expect, and then having their expectations met. Consistency and predictability may be the most important thing you do to build your personal brand; think Starbucks or McDonald’s – whether it’s a location in Omaha or Washington, DC, the experience you have is going to be exactly the same. It’s one of the reasons these companies are so successful.
  • Celebrate the successes of your clients more than your own. Making sure that your clients are celebrated can help ensure that you’ll get your shine as well. Focusing on their wants and needs, and then helping make their wishes come true is more powerful than any postcard or web advertisement that you create on your own. And once you’ve helped your clients, congratulate them, and get a testimonial that you can use to build your brand and story. Praise coming from people you’ve actually helped means a lot more than anything you can say about yourself. It’s genuine, real and supremely meaningful.
These are just a few quick tips that can help build your personal brand into something powerful and meaningful to the consumers you serve, and can really help create a strong “Brand You.”

Source: Deidre Woollard from Lockbox

Components to a Home Inspection: Exterior

What is the exterior component of a home inspection?

During the home inspection, a peace of mind certified inspector will identify major deficiencies in the condition of the exterior. To identify major deficiencies in the condition of exterior components of the property, including attached structures. Inspects: Wall claddings, trim, doors and windows, attached structures, drives, walkways, patios, grading and vegetation, the garage, and retaining walls.

The certified inspector shall inspect:

A. The siding, flashing and trim.
B. All exterior doors, decks, stoops, steps, stairs, porches, railings, eaves, soffits and fascias.
C. Report as in need of repair any spacings between intermediate balusters, spindles, or rails for steps, stairways, balconies, and railings that permit the passage of an object greater than four inches in diameter.
D. A representative number of windows.
E. The vegetation, surface drainage and retaining walls when these are likely to adversely affect the structure.
F. Describe the exterior wall covering.

The certified nspector is not required to:

A. Inspect or operate screens, storm windows, shutters, awnings, fences, outbuildings, or exterior accent lighting.
B. Inspect items, including window and door flashings, which are not visible or readily accessible from the ground.
C. Inspect geological, geotechnical, hydrological and/or soil conditions.
D. Inspect recreational facilities.
E. Inspect seawalls, break-walls and docks.
F. Inspect erosion control and earth stabilization measures.
G. Inspect for safety type glass.
H. Inspect underground utilities.
I.   Inspect underground items.
J. Inspect wells or springs.
K. Inspect solar systems.
L. Inspect swimming pools or spas (without prior request to do so).
M. Inspect septic systems or cesspools.
N. Inspect playground equipment.
O. Inspect sprinkler systems.
P. Inspect drain fields or drywells.
Q. Determine the integrity of the thermal window seals or damaged glass.

Useful Tip: Gutters

An inspection of the gutter system should be a mandatory inclusion in a homeowner’s routine home maintenance schedule. Ideally, a gutter inspection should be performed twice a year, once in the fall before the cold winter months, and again before the heavy rains of spring. The gutter system plays a very important part in managing the water run-off around the home. Poor or non-existing water run-off management systems through the use of gutters tend to be the primary cause behind water problems in the basement, as excess water is not properly shed away from the home.

As the industry leader in professional home inspections, our certified inspectors know what is required for a home to function efficiently and properly according to local building standards. This month's Peace of Mind tip is on the exterior gutters of the home.  You will learn more about how to safely inspect the gutters as the agent for a buyer or seller, and proper tips for gutter maintenance.

A certified inspector will inspect the exterior gutters.

Safety Tips For Inspecting Gutters
As always remember to take caution when working on or inspecting your gutters. Unlike inspecting and maintaining other sections of your home’s exterior, 90% of gutter work is done from a ladder. Remember to:
  • Always make sure that your ladder is on level ground and stable.
  • Ask for help from a spouse, friend or neighbor to hold the ladder for you.
  • Call a Professional Gutter Service provider if you feel uncomfortable doing the work yourself.

Tips for Inspecting Gutters

Cleaning Gutters: In order for gutters to properly do the job for which they are intended, removing debris like leaves, sticks and dirt from the gutters and downspouts should be performed twice a year along with an overall inspection. Clogged gutters can lead to overflows in heavy spring rains and ice buildup in the winter months. Either of which can lead to gutter damage or to potential water intrusion problems.

Check for pooling water: If the gutters are free from debris, and still have water pooling or otherwise not draining properly in any section, this may be a sign of damaged gutter hangers or poor installation. Check that all gutter hangers are attached correctly and are not bent. Missing gutter clips are a common occurrence and can easily be replaced. If all gutter fasteners are there, check to make sure that the length of gutter is pitched downward toward the downspout. In general, a length of gutter should fall one inch for every 15 to 20 foot span and should be adjusted accordingly.

Sagging Gutters: Sagging sections of gutter around the home are most likely caused by bent, broken or missing gutter hangers. Gutter hangers are inexpensive and fairly easy to replace. Repairing or replacing them should be done as soon as possible to help support the added weight of heavy spring rain or the snow of winter.

Gutter Apron: Is rainwater dripping down between the gutter and the fascia? If so, your gutters may not have had gutter apron installed when they were put on. Gutter Apron is an ‘L’ shaped piece of metal flashing, nailed to the roof decking just under the edge of the shingles, that drops down into the gutter. Gutter apron ensures that rainwater coming from the roof is routed appropriately directly into the gutter and not able to sneak behind it. If not installed, water that seeps behind the gutter can cause fascia damage and limit the effectiveness of the gutter system.

Holes & Cracks in Gutters: Inspect the gutters for any holes or cracks that may need to be repaired. Holes or cracks in the gutters can typically be repaired by adhering a patch of the same or similar material, to the damaged spot.

Make Sure All Connections Are Secure: When doing your gutter inspection check to make sure that all the connections, where gutter lengths are connected, gutter meets downspout, or sections of downspout, are fastened together tightly. Check for broken or missing rivets, which if found, should be drilled and replaced.

Make Sure Gutter System is Fastened to the Home Securely: Check that all downspout fasteners, where downspouts are fastened to the siding or exterior elevations home, are secure. If a section of downspout is torn off due to wind, heavy snow, or ice because of a loose or missing fastener, it may not only damage the gutter beyond repair, it may also cause unnecessary collateral damage to the siding.

For more information on peace of mind services and to view a sample home inspection report book please visit our website at

Source: Trinity Exteriors, Inc

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Happy Easter!

We hope you all have a wonderful Easter weekend!

Maintenance Tips for Spring

After a long, dark winter, spring's bright sun and warm winds are, well, a breath of fresh air. The only downside? All that sunshine spotlights your leaf-filled gutters, cracked sidewalks and the dead plants in last year's flower beds. Dwight Barnett, a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors, shared this checklist to help you target the areas that need maintenance so you can get your chores done quickly, leaving you time to go outside and play in the sunshine.

  • Check for loose or leaky gutters. Improper drainage can lead to water in the basement or crawl space. Make sure downspouts drain away from the foundation and are clear and free of debris.
  • Low areas in the yard or next to the foundation should be filled with compacted soil. Spring rains can cause yard flooding, which can lead to foundation flooding and damage. Also, when water pools in these low areas in summer, it creates a breeding ground for insects.
  • Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Make repairs now before the spring rains do more damage to the exposed wood.
  • From the ground, examine roof shingles to see if any were lost or damaged during winter. If your home has an older roof covering, you may want to start a budget for replacement. The summer sun can really damage roof shingles. Shingles that are cracked, buckled or loose or are missing granules need to be replaced. Flashing around plumbing vents, skylights and chimneys need to be checked and repaired by a qualified roofer.
  • Examine the exterior of the chimney for signs of damage. Have the flue cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep.
  • Inspect concrete slabs for signs of cracks or movement. All exterior slabs except pool decks should drain away from the home's foundation. Fill cracks with a concrete crack filler or silicone caulk. When weather permits, power-wash and then seal the concrete.
  • Remove firewood stored near the home. Firewood should be stored at least 18 inches off the ground at least 2 feet from the structure.
  • Check outside hose faucets for freeze damage. Turn the water on and place your thumb or finger over the opening. If you can stop the flow of water, it is likely the pipe inside the home is damaged and will need to be replaced. While you're at it, check the garden hose for dry rot.
  • Have a qualified heating and cooling contractor clean and service the outside unit of the air conditioning system. Clean coils operate more efficiently, and an annual service call will keep the system working at peak performance levels. Change interior filters on a regular basis.
  • Check your gas- and battery-powered lawn equipment to make sure it is ready for summer use. Clean equipment and sharp cutting blades will make yardwork easier.
Source: HGTV