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In An Industry Faced With Constant Change Some Fundamental Real Estate Truths Remain

What Sells A House?

When I got my real estate license nearly 22 years ago the MLS came out once a week in a telephone-sized book, there were a handful of personal computers in our office and the only thing smart about my immobile phone was that it had buttons instead of a rotary dial.

When I tell our new twenty-something real estate agents things like this they look at me with the same incredulous expression one might expect if you tried to explain other historical oddities from the B.Z. Era (Before Zillow), such as printed street maps or having to amortize a loan using a calculator.

The same is true for property-obsessed consumers who now expect to see houses on multiple websites and their smart phones in a matter of minutes from when they get loaded on the MLS.

Thanks to ubiquitous real estate websites and publicly available tax assessments, clients now sidle up to agents at the grocery store to debate price-per-square-foot trends in their neighborhoods.

The Web has most certainly democratized data in the real estate business. 20 years ago brokers maintained almost complete control over listing information. I think the shift in the balance of power has been a good thing. Well informed consumers can be a handful during the sales process (How can they be asking $450,000 for this, the tax record says they only paid $425,000 two years ago!). But I’d argue there has never been more interest in residential real estate than there is today and better educated...

6 Tips For Lowering Your Heating Bill This Winter

First winter in your new home? Feeling all comfy and cozy? If you’re budgeting this winter, your wallet may be feeling the heat: As temperatures drop, heating bills rise.

You’re not helpless, though. Even if you’re new to this whole home-ownership thing, you can take steps to reduce heating costs. Some of the suggestions are amazingly simple, and none require serious DIY skills or a large monetary payout.

1.    The Heat Is On - Piggyback off heat you’re generating for other purposes. When you’re done baking those famous Christmas cookies in the oven, leave the door open to let heat flow into the room. Don’t close the door when you’re taking a hot shower –- or at least leave it open when you’re done. Allow that steamy goodness to seep into other areas.

Winter Streets

2. Going Down, Down, Down - You may not want to hear this, but it’s a tried-and-true method to reduce energy costs: Turn down your thermostat. Don’t crank it any higher than 68 degrees when you’re home. If you’re cold, do what your dad used to tell you and put on a sweater. Also, make sure your feet are covered with thick socks or slippers. Cold feet lead to a cold body. Don’t stop there. When you’re not at home –- if you’re at work or out of town –- drop that thermostat another 10 to 15 degrees. Just make sure that you keep it at 60 degrees...

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