GOOGLE TOOLS for
REAL ESTATE & Small Business

comes back to Atlanta and Coastal Georgia– Updated and Expanded!
Approved by the Ga Real Estate Commission for 3 hours C.E.

GoogleTools

Saturday, August 1, 9 am to Noon
Baymont Inn & Suites Marietta 
2170 Delk Rd at 75N, Marietta, Ga 30067
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

CLICK HERE for Brunswick, Tues August 25, 1 to 4 pm

or  Savannah, Wed September 2, 10 am to noon

Here’s why YOU should attend:

OK, you already know that Google is the Number One search engine in the world. And maybe you already know that YouTube is the Number Two search engine in the world. And maybe you already know that Google offers a free suite of powerful software and communication tools that all work together seamlessly to make your notebook, tablet, iPad, smartphone and/or desktop a cloud-based super computer.

But do you know how to use this free platform to set you apart from your competition?

Almost every day, the folks at Google turn out a new or improved version of their award-winning applications. And you can use this combination to decimate your competition. Here’s my top ten (just a few) of the more powerful tools from Google and why you should use them:

1. Google Mail, better known as Gmail
2. Google Contacts
3. Google Calendar
4. Google DOCS
5. Google SPREADSHEET
6. Google VOICE (way cool and amazingly useful)
7. Google Drive
8. Google YouTube
9. Google PROFILES
10. Google PICASA Photo Management & Web Albums

AND THAT IS JUST THE BEGINNING. Don’t miss the GOOGLE ACADEMY.

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8 Power Moves to Market Your Home: Week 4 – Market Value: The Price is Right

AJC column for 05-JUL-2015
By John Adams
Week 4: Market Value: The Price Is Right

Pricing your home to sell is critically important. Start too high, and you’ll waste the summer selling season. Start too low, and you’re leaving money on the table. So, how can you know what your home is really worth?

Guestimating the value of a house is always difficult, and in a market like this, it’s even more challenging. But there are clues all around us. Realtors, resales, and research can all point toward a fair market value. If all else fails, you can still call an appraiser.

Before we start pulling numbers, let’s talk about Fair Market Value, often called FMV.

FMV is that price which a well informed buyer would be willing to pay and at which you would be willing to sell, assuming you had normal motivation to act. Some appraisers have dropped the word “fair” entirely, believing it to be irrelevant.

The real problem is that FMV can (and often does) change on a daily basis, and rarely moves in a straight line. One day it might be up, the next day it might be down. It simply depends on the market conditions and comparable sales that exist on that particular day. Market Value is a moving target.

The best we can hope to accomplish is to determine what a property might sell for on a particular day. And we can do that by looking at recent sales of similar homes as near to the subject home as possible.

Here are three quick ways you can get a good idea of what your house might be worth. I recommend that we explore three sources of comparable sales data:

* REALTORS

Real estate professionals have free access to a complete computerized database of recent home sales, both those that were listed with agent and those that were sold by owner.

Often for the price of lunch, you can convince a real estate agent to print out a COMPETITIVE MARKET ANALYSIS, better known as a CMA, and give you a copy.

The CMA will show details of your home like age, square footage, and bed-bath count, then compare that to similar homes that have sold in the past 12 months nearby. This information can be extremely helpful in estimating value, but does not go into the same depth as a full appraisal.

* RESALES

Lots of owners make a habit of viewing homes in their neighborhood that go up for sale, then finding out what those homes eventually sell for. Remember, the selling price is NOT confidential, and the agent who listed the property can and will tell you the closing price after the sale occurs.

By following sales activity and comparing home features like age and bed-bath count, you can get a pretty good idea of what your home might bring on the open market.

And finally, we can look at what I call

* RESEARCH

When it come to value, please ignore both tax valuations and internet estimates.

Your tax assessment aims to be an actual value number, but the tax assessor probably hasn’t been inside your house since the day it was built, and maybe not even then. Tax assessments are notorious for being way off base, and are simply not worth considering.

And in my opinion, the online estimates are even worse. Typically, they ignore improvements that may have been done to the house since it was built. My advice is to totally ignore online estimators.

Instead, to really nail down a true market value, you can hire a licensed appraiser to do the research and come up with a solid number.

Appraisers go far beyond just a CMA or a “guess-timate.”

Based on their experience and their advanced training, an appraiser will examine and measure your property carefully, then apply three different metrics to the property.

First, what would it cost to build the house back if it burned to the ground?. That is called the replacement approach to value. This exercise is particularly helpful in estimating the value of unique or special-purpose properties, such as a church sanctuary.

Second, what is the current value of the income stream which the house might generate as rental property? This involves using a capitalization rate in an attempt to compare one form of investment to another, and is best suited for income properties such as apartment complexes.

The third question will prove to be the most helpful for us, and it is this: what are comparable homes selling for in your subdivision?

The appraiser then devises a compilation based on all those numbers, and comes up with an “estimate of value” for that particular day. It might be worth more (or less) tomorrow, but on that day, the estimated value was this many dollars.

Unfortunately, a professional appraisal will cost you several hundred dollars, and might take a couple of weeks to get back, and you’re still left with just an estimate. However, there is no more accurate method available, so an appraisal may be your best bet.

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8 Power Moves to Market Your Home: Week 3 – Packaging Designed to Sell Your Home

John Adams column for 28-JUN-2015

Week 3: Packaging Designed To Sell Your Home

In our first column of this series, we agreed that “marketing” involved more than just advertising a home.

To refresh your memory, I presented a definition as follows:

“Marketing is the combination of messages and programs (the 4 P’s: packaging, price, placement and promotion) that drive shoppers to choose your product over someone else’s.”

So this week, I want to talk about packaging.

We all know that when a gentleman gives his lady friend a gift in a small blue box, it is likely jewelry from Tiffany’s. That is packaging. And one of the most famous shapes in the world is the iconic Coca-Cola bottle, born of a study of the unique fluted shape of the pod of the cocoa plant. That’s packaging.

When it comes to marketing your home, packaging is vitally important.

It’s important to recognize in advance of your first showing that your home doesn’t have to be perfect.

I am continuously amazed at the visually appalling condition of some homes which are placed on the market “as is.” The buying market adjusts the value of these homes accordingly, and the result is usually a home that only an investor will buy, and at a rock-bottom price.

And not only does your home not have to be perfect, it doesn’t even have to be the most beautiful home on the market in order to attract serious offers.

But it does have to be competitive with other offerings in its area and price range.

My first advice to anyone wishing to sell their home at a good price is to step into the shoes of the typical buyer. See what they see. Think how they think. Learn what they want. And in doing so, you will come to dominate your competition.

Here are some ideas for “packaging” your home that buyers won’t be able to resist:

* FRESH COLORS on walls. A blast of new color is often the least expensive way of making your home stand out from the crowd. It’s a small investment that can bring a big bang, but the color must be chosen carefully.

Think of your home’s colors as a backdrop for your buyer’s life. If they can walk into the room, feel at home and comfortable, and remember later how they felt, you are well on your way to making a sale.

Agents often recommend neutral colors as a way of eliminating negative responses to poor color choices, but I recommend hiring a decorator to assist you in color choices. Just be sure you are familiar with his or her previous projects and find them attractive.

Sherwin-Williams says “Coral Reef” is the 2015 color of the year because it reflects the country’s optimism for the future. They recommend pairing it with crisp white for a youthful and sophisticated accent wall. (I think I remember being youthful and sophisticated – once.) I’ll leave the final decision up to you.

* OPEN SPACES inside the house is a trend that has been growing for decades and shows no sign of slowing this summer selling season. Think of the kitchen as the hub of the house, and find ways to open views from the kitchen into other parts of the home, specifically the den and/or dining areas. Yes, it can be expensive, but the results are dramatic.

* PORCELAIN in high traffic areas. If you are thinking about reflooring with imitation wood laminates (very popular today), take a deep breath and consider porcelain. It is less expensive and virtually indestructible. Long a staple of beach homes, porcelain is now available in an unlimited variety of colors and textures. It is perfect for areas exposed to moisture.

* COUNTERTOPS in KITCHEN and BATH. Does your current countertop have the fleck of gold sparkle still embedded in the formica? It may be time for an upgrade, and there is nothing sexier to a homebuyer than perfect countertops.

Granite has been the go-to standard for the last decade, but the new contenders are engineered quartz and it’s cousin, quartzite. The former is man made while the latter is natural, and both are less fussy than granite in terms of care.

* CLEAN STORAGE SPACE. If you currently have a basement, have you been down there lately? Are there dark corners where cave crickets and unidentifiable spiders (and worse) wait to attack the unsuspecting human who might venture into their abode?

No one wants to buy a house with the likelihood of having a dark, dank basement area sporting lots of creepy crawlies and worse.

The solution is almost biblical in its simplicity: Let There Be Light!

An inexpensive solution to basement blues is to install a dozen or more fluorescent shop lights on the same circuit as the switch, so that when the lights come on, the entire lower level is lit up like a Christmas tree.

Unfortunately, this will require that you clean out all the junk you have been saving for years and clean the entire basement, but so be it. All of a sudden, you basement is converted from a hall of horrors into clean, bright, useable storage space.

I know there are many more ways to successfully package your home for sale, and I invite you to share your favorites with me for a future column. You can contact me at my website, as well as access all previous editions of this series. Visit money99.com.

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Native-born Atlantan John Adams is a real estate broker, investor, and author. He answers real estate questions every Sunday at 3 pm on WGKA-am(920). He welcomes your comments at Money99.com, where you will find an expanded version of this column.