Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How the Right Words Can Sell a Home

House and neighborhood characteristics can positively influence the sale of your home, but what about the words used in the listing? The right turn of phrase could help your property sell quickly, but choose less descriptive terms and you may find it on the market indefinitely. Write an effective listing with the following tips:
Choose Your Words Wisely
One analytics firm reviewed the word choices of a million listings that closed in 2016. Phrases like "open concept" and "natural light" closed more quickly, while listings with "ceramic tile" and "two story" stayed on the market longer. Analysts also found that four word pairs associated with quick closings included "fence" references, indicating that privacy may be a top priority for buyers.
Tell Stories With Emotion 
Capture potential buyers' senses with your words, and try to paint a picture of what it would be like to live in the home. A claw-foot tub becomes a place of solace from the daily grind, and a large yard transforms into a buyer's new outdoor respite. Need help? Consider enlisting a professional who is familiar with what's selling to help write your listing.
Highlight Brand Names
Don't focus solely on basics such as square footage and the number of bathrooms. Instead, identify brands that will stand out from the competition. Everything's fair game -- from appliances to fixtures to interior designers or architects who helped with your last renovation. You can feel comfortable name-dropping here.
Create Longer Listings
The 2015 book "Zillow Talk" found that listings as long as 250 words tend to sell at higher prices. And to help grab a potential buyer's eye, give particular attention to the first 10 words.
Before putting your home on the market, take some time to craft a well-worded listing. A sale may hinge on it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Why I Love Houston: Pet Friendly Houston Outings

Welcome to my Why I Love Houston series, where I share my favorite Houston experiences and excursions. My goal is to make my hometown of Houston more accessible to the ever-changing mix of folks adopting our amazing city as their home base and reminding natives of the hidden gems throughout H-town! 

Why I love Houston....city adventures for our four-legged friends!

It's the perfect time of year to get out and about with your furry family members! Houston has lots of fun pet-friendly outings for exploring the city.

Hit the Buffalo Bayou Park trails with Fido where you can spot a heron or two along the bayou while taking in views of the downtown skyline. Pose your pup for an inspiring social media pic by one of the Monumental Monuments series word sculptures, like "Listen" or "Reflect." A stop at the popular Johnny Steele Dog Park will ensure your dog will be napping the rest of the day after romping around with their new playmates. The park has special areas for little and big dogs and water features for cooling off. After working up an appetite at the park, treat yourself to breakfast or lunch at The Kitchen at The Dunlavy, which has a dog-friendly patio. Paws on Patios keeps an updated list of bars and restaurants where dogs are welcome on outdoor patios for other dining options around the city.

For a water adventure, take a day trip to Seabrook where you and your dog can rent a kayak at Pinky's Kayak Rentals. Spend a couple of hours exploring Taylor Lake and the nature of Armand Bayou with either a self-guided or guided tour of the area. Back on shore, head to nearby Boondoogles for burgers and refreshments on their patio. Finish the day with a stroll through Clear Lake Park before heading home.

Mark your calendars for May 13th, when Puppies for Breakfast takes over Market Square Park downtown. This celebration is all things dog! You can find a variety of dog-focused vendors, artists, and activities. Your pup can also strut their stuff during the costume contest. The event is free, but a $5 donation benefiting the Animal Justice League Rescue is suggested.

For those who are looking for a new furry addition to the family, National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day is April 30th. You can visit one of Houston's many animal rescue organizations to find your family's new best pal. BARC, Friends for Life, and Scout's Honor Rescue are all great places to start your search. For all the cat lovers, Houston's first cat cafe, El Gato Coffehouse, will open in May. In the meantime, you can meet all the cafe's friendly felines looking for forever homes at their scheduled events, like Yoga with Cats, Meowvie Night, and Caturday Morning Cartoons.

Peace, love, and pets!


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

4 Famous American Estates That Inspire

It's never too early to dream up your next vacation. Whether you're interested in a fun, educational destination or you're on the hunt for home inspiration, visiting these famous estates may pique your imagination.
Architectural Icon
A tour through the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio just outside of Chicago is like peering into the creative mind of one of America's most iconic architects. Constructed in 1889 for $5,000, this Oak Park house served as the family home for Wright, his wife and their six kids. Bold, geometric shapes on the exterior and the interior's high, barrel-vaulted ceiling make this visit a must for architecture enthusiasts.
Literary Cats 
One home of Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway is tucked away in the heart of Old Town in Key West, Florida. The estate boasts Spanish colonial architecture and lush grounds; however, the Hemingway home is also well-known for its current occupants. No less than 40 polydactyl (six-toed) cats, descendants of those owned by Hemingway himself, still live on-site.
Presidential Family Estate
Get a historical perspective with a visit to Hildene, a 1905 Georgian Revival mansion in Manchester, Vermont, that belonged to Robert Todd Lincoln, the son of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. Guests can take year-round tours of the home's 24-room interior, stroll down approximately 12 miles of walking trails and visit the working farm.
As Seen on TV
Popularized by more than 70 feature films and television shows, including "Full House," San Francisco's Painted Ladies are a staple of the city's skyline. This row of quintessential Victorian homes, also known as the Seven Sisters, ascends one of the city's hilly neighborhoods. Snap a gorgeous photo from the famous Alamo Square Park across the street.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Why I Love Houston: The 30th Annual Art Car Parade!

Van Gogh pickup truck at the Art Car Parade- only in Texas!
Welcome to my Why I Love Houston series, where I share my favorite Houston experiences and excursions. My goal is to make my hometown of Houston more accessible to the ever-changing mix of folks adopting our amazing city as their home base and reminding natives of the hidden gems throughout H-town! 

Why I love Houston....the Houston Art Car Parade!

We brake for art cars in this city! Head to downtown Houston this Saturday, April 8th, at 2 pm when a convoy of fantastically decorated cars from here and all over the United States takes to the streets for spectators to admire and Instagram. Get to Smith Street early so you can take time to view the art cars and chat with the drivers/artists before they get rolling. This year's grand marshal of the Art Car Parade is comedian, actor, and author, Cheech Marin! He will be signing his book, Cheech Is Not My Real Name ... But Don't Call Me Chong at a special event held at the historic River Oaks Theatre on Thursday, April 6th at 7 pm (tickets required).

More art car events include the Main Street Drag on Thursday, April 6th, 9 am-1 pm, for a sneak peek of the cars in motion. The Art Car Ball takes place on the evening of Friday, April 7th at Hermann Square for a night of music, art cars, and costumes too!

Let the good times roll!