Thursday, September 30, 2010

The good, the bad...the internet

I participate in many forms of social media (twitter, facebook, blogging, etc) and I try to be very careful about what I say online. There are many things I'd LOVE to say, but I know it's just not appropriate for EVERYone to see! Some times I see what other people post online and I just wish they'd think before they type. I'm kind of glad that we didn't have this much technology when I was growing up. Who knows what we would have written and of course regretted! I usually just see something stupid and ignore it, but today I saw something that I HAD to comment on.

A guy I graduated high school with had a VERY innappropriate, offense and just plain ignorant post today. Thankfully I was on the phone with a friend when I saw it so I had someone to rant to. (otherwise I would have just called until someone answered!). Not only was his post offense, but it wasn't in correct english making him looking even more ignorant. I won't post exactly what he said, but it was to the affect that he's not against gays, but they seem to be popping up everywhere and they should have their own state. SERIOUSLY!! I almost couldn't believe it. I KNEW I was going to defriend him, but I also felt like I had to comment. I let him know that I was appalled by what he wrote and couldn't beleive he posted it online. Then hit "remove from friends." He did response, but I had to get another friend to check it since I can no longer see his wall postings. He commented that he "wasn't gay bashing just that the population is growing." Yes, a lot of populations are growing! My friend also made a comment on how ignorant his status was. He's obviously an unhappy person (he always has negative status updates) and I am happy to not look at his updates anymore. I'm also happy and proud that my friend Shana and I both stood up to let him know how ignorant his post was. I hope others stand up as well!

Think before you type!

Credit Services, Inspection Advice & Aflac

Today was our monthly office sales meeting and we have three informative guests. I wanted to pass along some of the great information that was shared with our office agents.

Donna Perkins - Kansas City Credit Services was our first guest. She spoke with us a few weeks ago. She is a financial consumer advicate. Her job is to pick about your credit report looking for inaccuracies to help you lower your bills. They have a proven success of 75% to 85% removal of misleading, outdated and unverifiable information from most credit reports. They have been in business since 1991 and her team has 35 years experience. They offer a free credit consultation and if they can't help you, they'll find someone who can. To contact Donna -

Ed Sullivan - Ed Sullivan Inspections was our second guest. Ed talked about the Utility Flue that service your hot water heater and furnace and how it is necessary that this flue has a metal liner to protect you and your home. This liner is necessary because many older homes have older appliances which had 9-12 in flues. Newer appliances have 5 in flues. There are a few different options. One of the less expensive options is to get a diverter for your water heater. You could also get a flexible liner for your flue. Make sure when you get your home inspectied the inspector checks the roof and flue liner. He also mentioned that you need to be careful with gas burning fireplaces that are VENT-FREE. These need to be in large, open rooms.

Seve Sterthman - Aflac was our last speaker. He talked about all the different policies that Aflac offers that give cash back to policy holders for medical bills. Once you pick your policy, your rate never goes unless you switch to a new policy. Their Accident policy covers anything "that comes at you from the outside" - including car accidents, falling from a ladder and even poison ivy. You can have more than one plan/policy and they do not cancel out the other.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Social Media Safety

I just got my current issue of "Real Eyes" from KCRAR (Kansas City Regional Association of Realtors). I won't lie, I usually just skim the paper and recycle it. Well, today a story on the front page caught my eye: "Social Media Safety for Real Estate Agents" As we all know, I LOVE social I figured, it won't hurt to read what they have to say. I started to skim the article (ok, I went straight for the highlighted parts). They offered SIX suggestions:
1. There is no such thing as "privacy" on any of the social media websites. Ok, I know this. If it's on the net, it can probably be found.
2. Do not publicize your calendar or schedule. Got that too. If I do "say" what I'm doing in a day, it's pretty vague and I never give out times.
3. Know what information is in cyberspace about you. I've got a google alert sent up and get emails every time my name comes up in a new search (so I'll probably have a few today since I keep blogging). THEN is says: Go to websites such as and just to get started. Well, OF COURSE I had to check them out! had my wrong address (perfect!) BUT pulls from a ton of sites and had my current address! YIKES! That has ALREADY been fixed!!! (damn you
4. Beware of location-based websites and programs. I admit it, I use FourSquare..but I try to use it safely!! I NEVER check in at my house and half the time I "check in" when I'm leaving a location. I think I'm still "at" Price Chopper according to FourSquare.
5. Know you can "block" followers. I know this and thankfully have no had to do it!
6. Be careful with photos of yourself and your listings. No glamour-shot type photos (criminals have a certain victim profile) and don't show valuables in the home. Check for both of these!

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE go to the websites listed in #3 and check yourself. Make sure they DO NOT have your correct address. Also, set up a google alert with your name so you know when something new has appeared on the internet.

**On a side note, this DID come in handy when I started at 1154 Lill. Jen, the owner of Lill has set up an alert for 1145 Lill. I sent out a ton of media releases announcing I was a new sales rep in Kansas City. She got the google alert and was amazed by how many sites posted the information!

The internet can be used for good...don't let it be used for evil!

Good luck!!

Metabolism Boost/Cleanse

Well, I did it. I did a "cleanse". I've heard of so many different types of cleanses and none of them sounds like "fun" or very healthy for that matter! As I mentioned in a previous post, I signed up for an 8 week weight loss challenge with The Energy Zone 151 & Fit Bottomed Girls. The challenge doesn't begin until Oct 9th and I'm heading to Mexico THIS Friday!! Long story short, I got convinced to try their cleanse, which is really more of a metabolism boost.

Here's the basics:
Day 1: Drink 2 gallons of a mixture of Metabolife Beverage Mix, Protein, Aloe & Water
Day 2: 5 protein shakes
Day 3: 2 protein shakes and a meal

Day 1: I was planning on starting last Monday, but Terri convinced me to start on Sunday with her. I'm SO happy that I started on Sunday! I made the mix on Saturday night so it was ready and chilled for Sunday. I drank ALL 2 gallons!! (let's face it, I drink a lot as it is). I did sleep in a bit and take a little nap to avoid hunger pains. I noticed that as long as I was drinking, I was ok. Once I stopped, that's when I started feeling yucky. Around 2pm I was super hungry but just kept drinking. Pretty much my day was: drink a glass, pee, fill my glass. REPEAT. haha. I think I'm most proud that I actually DID IT! I made it the entire day AND drank all 2 gallons. (honestly I would have been happy just to make it through the day!). Thankfully the mix tasted great (would have been awesome with a little Vodka. haha).

Day 2: 5 shakes. I made a different shake each time. I knew if I made the same one, I'd go crazy!! I did pretty good and tried to spread out the shakes to I wasn't hungry. I even made it to spin class!!

Day 3: I could not WAIT to eat a real meal!! I had my two shakes and had a big ol salad from Sweet Tomato's for dinner. I did wake up with a headache Tuesday morning, but not sure if it was life or cleanse related. Could have been either or both! :) I attempted to workout but was unmotivated (which was probably just life, not clease related).

Overall: I lost about 1 pound. They said I could lose more, but honestly, I'm ok with the 1 pound. (that was from Thursday to Thursday weight) I'm not sure I'll do the cleanse again. It did make me feel better and I've really been trying to watch my white flour and sugar intake. I'm most proud that I was able to accomplish this goal in a healthy way. I got plenty of protein each day and calories, which is what is important!!

I'm excited for the challenge to begin!!

Tips to Getting Your Loan Modification Application

For Your Clients: 8 Tips to Getting Your Loan Modification Application Reviewed
RISMEDIA, September 25, 2010--Many homeowners seeking a loan modification to lower their monthly mortgage payments and avoid foreclosure continue to find the application process a complex web, often causing them to give up before their application is ever reviewed by their mortgage company.

Certified housing counselors for CredAbility, a national nonprofit credit counseling and education agency, speak daily with hundreds of homeowners seeking a loan modification or other solutions to keep their homes. The organization has several tips for people that will help them increase the chances that their application is reviewed as quickly as possible.

"A homeowner needs to collect and send several documents that tell the mortgage company why you need a modification, and it needs to be done in a timely, organized manner," said Michelle Jones, senior vice president of counseling for CredAbility. "Once a homeowner has submitted these documents, they need to stay in regular contact with the company. With hundreds of thousands of applications under consideration, homeowners must take matters into their own hands to make sure their application gets to the right person at the company."

Here are CredAbility's recommendations for homeowners seeking a loan modification:

Speak With a Nonprofit Housing Counselor to Understand Investor Rules for Your Loan. Every homeowner's mortgage loan is different, so don't rely on information you may have heard from your neighbor or your sister-in-law, even if they received a loan modification. For example, if your 30-year, fixed interest rate loan is owned by one investor, and your neighbor's is owned by another investor, the rules governing a loan modification may be quite different. A certified counselor at a nonprofit credit counseling agency can help you find the investor who owns your mortgage and determine your options.

Submit All Documents That Prove Your Current Income. Income verification is critical, but homeowners sometimes don't provide their mortgage company with recent documents. If you lost a job in June, don't provide pay stubs from March. In addition to recent pay stubs and other traditional income sources, homeowners should also provide a document called a "contribution letter." This letter explains the source of any household income that is not easily verified. For example, a servicer will want to know the total household income of a married couple, even if only one person's name is on the loan. The letter could also include income verifying that you have a roommate that pays rent.

Submit Current Bank Statements. Recent bank statements allow your mortgage company to verify your income and expenses. This information enables the mortgage company to see your monthly expenses for food, utilities and other expenses and determine whether you will have enough money to make your mortgage payment.

Mail Your Documents to the Mortgage Company. Many people prefer to send all of their documents by fax or scan their documents and send them via email. However, postal mail is usually more reliable, especially if it's addressed to the person you spoke with at the mortgage company. Faxes often get lost.

Label Each Page With Your Name and Loan Number. One of the most common complaints among homeowners is that the mortgage company loses their documents. You can help your own cause by writing your name and loan number on each page of every document.

Fully Explain Any Recent or Unique Income Changes. For example, a bank deposit may show various one-time transactions, such as an asset sale, cash gifts from family members or a bonus. Unless you explain this one-time increase in income, the servicer may not understand it and use this information to deny your loan modification.

Include a Timeline in Your Hardship Letter. Every application for a loan modification must include a "hardship letter" that explains the reasons for your request. But the letter must have specific dates explaining when an income loss has occurred. If your spouse lost her job on July 15 and your family income will decrease by $3,000 beginning in August, your letter needs to provide these details.

Call Your Mortgage Company Every Week. Many homeowners work extremely hard to submit all of their paperwork to the servicer - and then wait for weeks before picking up the telephone to call them about the status of their application. This is a mistake for several reasons: the person handling your application may quit; the application may be transferred to another person; the company may need more information. You get the picture.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Trends in Kitchen Design

For Your Clients: Trends in Kitchen Design
By Jean Patteson

Counter tops: Stainless steel, antiqued marble, lava stone, wood, concrete, mosaics and flamed granite with a textured, matte finish.

Cabinetry: Fewer overhead cabinets. Lift-up or sliding doors, self-closing drawers, glass-fronted cabinets and glass shelving, tracks inside doors for attaching storage accessories, pantires with multiple storage options. Fresh finishes, from smooth, high-gloss and matte lacquer, to textured, horizontal-grain laminates.

Appliances: Free-standing accent pieces and fully-integrated designs that blend with cabinets. Fridges with more crisper space, less freezer space; combination gas/electric ranges; designer range hoods; super-quiet dishwashers; specialty sink faucets; luxury items such as warmer drawers for coffee mugs.

Lighting: Combinations of soft incandescent, bright halogen and cool, energy-efficient LED bulbs.

Colors: Warm neutrals such as walnut, slate, sand, greige, celadon and magnolia.

Architectural elements: Wall niches and bump-outs for housing coffee machines, juicers, dinnerware, herbs, spices and collectibles.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tips for Fall Tree Maintenance

7 Tips for Fall Tree Maintenance
RISMEDIA, September 21, 2010--Trees are often overlooked during the summer when it comes to watering. Yet, when trees go dormant for autumn and winter – meaning active root growth comes to a standstill – and deciduous trees lose their leaves, they make up for deficits and absorb as much water and nutrients as they can hold. Enter fall's first rains, windstorms and freezes, and homeowners are guaranteed a dose of trouble.

Homeowners are advised to follow seven guidelines this fall to avoid tree problems year round.

#1 Hydrate
Trees with deep root systems typically do not need extra water, while trees with shallow roots do. Your tree is thirsty if it is brown in places, or if some of its branches are dead or brittle. If needed, place mulch at the base of the tree to help the soil retain water.

#2 Plant for all seasons, and for your region
It is best to plant trees that thrive in your home city's weather. Young trees planted in locations subject to harsh weather should be staked until their root balls have grown strong enough to support them. Protect against nibbling animals by placing a small fence around the base. And be sure to check with local jurisdictions on permits needed or other restrictions.

#3 Remove troublemakers
If a tree is located next to a foundation, path or fence, or along an irrigation, sewer or utility line, fall is a good time to move it, or even remove it.

To remove a tree quickly, and effortlessly, a chainsaw can be used to cut the tree down piece by piece (consult an arborist for larger projects or when tree falling has the potential to harm property or people). For safety and efficiency, keep the chainsaw chain sharp. Given that manually sharpening a saw chain can take more than an hour, consider using PowerSharp, a seconds-fast and portable chainsaw sharpening system. PowerSharp is comprised of a unique chain, a bar-mount sharpener, and a guide bar. Used together on the saw, and on the job, these components keep a chainsaw sharp the easy way. To see how it works, visit

# 4 Prune
Fall is the time to prune most trees. With an expert's help or on your own, prune to open up the tree's crown and remove excess limbs and dead or weakened wood. Use your chainsaw to complete the job quicker.

# 5 Remove fallen leaves
Remove fallen leaves to be certain that the base of your tree can "breathe," and to remove a haven for tree-damaging insects. This also assures that any plants below the tree get adequate water and light.

# 6 Spray
If an insect is attacking a tree, fall is the best time to apply dormant spray on fruiting trees.

# 7 Fertilize
Most trees don't require fertilizer although fruiting and flowering trees may benefit from it. Late fall is a good time to fertilize because winter rains will prevent chemical burn. Fertilize after the first frost to prevent new, tender growth from damage.

Requiring very little maintenance in the fall, trees provide strong focal points to landscapes. Deciduous trees present various colors and appearances throughout the year, and evergreens breathe life and color year-round. Take care of your trees and you will enjoy them for years to come.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How to Choose a Home

For Your Clients: How to Choose a Home - Tips to Make Sure You Don't Settle
By Paige Tepping

RISMEDIA, September 11, 2010--Finding the home that is right for you can be a time-consuming process. The experts at offer the following tips to help make sure you don’t just settle for a home, but instead find the home that is perfect for you.

Once you've settled on a couple of neighborhoods where you would like to live, it's time to pick out a few homes to view. Your wish list can remind you which features are absolute requirements and which amenities you'd like to have if possible. When narrowing down your home search, consider:

-Types of homes
-Home purchase considerations
-Home comparison chart
-What to do when you’ve found the right home for you

Types of homes
In addition to single family homes (one home per lot), there are other forms of home ownership to consider as you begin looking for the next place you will call home:

-Multifamily homes: Some buyers, particularly first-timers, start with multiple family dwellings, so they'll have rental income to help with their costs. Many mortgage plans, including VA and FHA loans, can be used for buildings with up to four units, if the buyer intends to occupy one of them.
-Condominiums: With a condo, you own "from the plaster in" just as you would a single house. You also own a certain percentage of the "common elements"—staircases, sidewalks, roofs and the like. Monthly charges pay your share of taxes and insurance on those elements, as well as repairs and maintenance. A homeowners association administers the development.
-Co-ops: In a few cities, cooperative apartments are common. With those, you purchase shares in a corporation that owns the whole building, and you receive a lease to your own apartment. A board of directors supervises management. Monthly charges include your share of an overall mortgage on the building.

Home purchase considerations
Most buyers' first consideration, after neighborhoods are chosen, is the number of bedrooms. As you begin to view homes, keep the following purchase and resale considerations in mind:

-Weigh your needs, budget and personal tastes in deciding whether you want a home that’s a newly constructed, an older home or a home that requires some work—a ‘fixer-upper.’
-One-bedroom condos are more difficult to resell than two-bedroom condos.
-Two-bedroom/one-bath single houses generally have less appeal than houses with three or more bedrooms, and therefore less appreciation potential.
-Homes with ‘curb appeal,’ (a well-maintained, attractive and charming view-from-the-street appearance) are the easiest to resell.
-When resale is a possibility, don't buy the most expensive house on the street, or anything that is unusual or unique. The best investment potential is traditionally found in a less expensive, more moderately sized home on the street.

Home comparison chart
While house-hunting, it's a good idea to make notes about what you see because viewing several houses at a time can be confusing. Create a comparison chart before you begin looking at homes so you can keep track of your search, organize your thoughts and record your impressions.

When you’ve found the right home
Before you begin the home buying process, resolve to act promptly when you find the right house. Every Realtor has stories to tell about a couple who looked far and wide for their dream home, finally found it, and then revealed that "we always promised my Dad we'd sleep on it, so we'll make an offer tomorrow." Many times the story has a sad ending—someone else came in that evening with an offer that was accepted.

Resolve at this point that you will act decisively when you find the house that’s clearly right for you. This is particularly important after a long search or if the house is newly listed and/or under-priced.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Improve Your Credit Score Before Searching for a Home

We had Kansas City Credit Services come talk to our office lst week about their credit restoration program. They offer some great services (and you don't have to live in the Kansas City area to take advantage of them!)
You can contact them at:

Improve Your Credit Score Before Searching for a Home

By Paige Tepping

RISMEDIA, September 8, 2010--Many prospective homeowners find out the hard way the importance of a good credit score when they apply for a home mortgage, especially after the subprime loan crisis. If you are considering buying a home in the near future, it is a good idea to give your credit score a check-up and then take positive steps to improve your credit score if you find problems. Ideally, it is best to begin working on improving your credit score at least six months before you plan to start shopping for a home.

According to the experts at, the following tips will help you improve your credit and should be taken before you begin your home search.

The first critical step in taking care of your credit is to check your credit report. Unfortunately, many people fail to take this all important first step. Instead, they wait until they have applied for a mortgage loan to find out from the lender that there are problems with their credit scores.

By checking your credit score before you apply for a mortgage loan, you gain the opportunity to find out if there are problems which you can correct and discrepancies that need to be removed. When you check your credit report, make sure you check all three of the national credit reporting agencies: Experian, Trans-Union and EquiFax.

Review your credit report carefully for items that may be erroneous. If you believe that an item on your credit report is reported in error, you have the right to contest it. To do so, you will need to contact the credit reporting agency and explain why you believe the item is inaccurate. Supporting documentation such as receipts and cancelled checks can help your claim. Alternatively, you can engage a credit report repair services firm to fix your credit report.

If there are derogatory items on your credit report that are accurate but which could cause problems in your loan application, you cannot have them removed; however, you can take positive steps to counteract them. In the event that you have missed payments in the past, take steps now to get your bills current. Even if it means tapping into money that you might be planning to use for a down payment, it is essential that you get your accounts current and keep them that way. Begin by immediately making your payments on time. There is nothing which can lower your credit score more quickly than late payments. Ideally, make an attempt to begin sending in your payments a few days ahead of time to make sure they arrive on time and you do not have any more late payments on your record. If necessary, begin taking advantage of electronic payments in order to make sure your payments are made on time. Over time, this can make significant difference.

Keep in mind that eradicating all of your credit balances is really not the solution. In fact, credit can be your friend when you are looking to make a big purchase such as a home. The key is to make sure your credit is positive, not negative. Toward that end, avoid actually closing out your accounts. Instead, make an effort to pay down your balances and keep them paid down well below the minimum or completely paid off, but do not close the account. When your lender runs your credit to make a decision on your mortgage application, he or she will want to see that you have had a long credit management history.

After reviewing your credit history, if you see that most, if not all of your credit cards are maxed out or nearly maxed out, it is time to sit down and plan an aggressive strategy for paying some of them down. One of the critical factors that often determine your ability to be approved for a mortgage loan is your debt to income ratio. In addition, high credit card balances can drag down your credit score. Therefore, it is important to look at paying off some of your balances.

It is generally better to begin with your highest-rate balances first. Many consumers are tempted to move around balances when they receive an offer from another bank that is good; however, before you do this, remember that the worst thing you can do when you are trying to make a major purchase is to open new accounts.

By following these guidelines, you can improve your credit score and improve your chances of being approved for your home mortgage loan.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Healthy Lifestyle

I have some many ideas swimming around in my head that I don't even know where to start this blog post! (surprising, I know!)

Most of my last updates have been Real Estate news and advice, but this is going to be more about me!

I feel like I've said this sentence many many times: "As many of you know, I love social media!" Hey, it's true, so I might as well keep saying it! It's funny b/c I didn't join twitter OR facebook for those reasons. I joined Facebook a few years ago to "spy" on my friends son. (He knew this and was instructed to "Friend" me). I of course quickly switched from myspace to facebook and fell in love. As for twitter, I can't remember the exact situation, but it was a deal I made with Wes. If he helped me with something or other, I would join twitter (he of course had to set me up). I too have grown to love twitter. I manage three twitter accounts (personal, 1154 Lill KC and Re/Max State Line) and have "connected" with a ton of great people!

My "connects" on twitter & facebook is what today's blog is really about! I follow a bunch of fitness experts, professionals and lovers on twitter. Some I follow on twitter and facebook. I started following fitbottomedgirl on twitter a while back, then joined their facebook fan page. A few weeks ago there was a post on the Fit Bottomed Girl facebook page about a weight loss documentary/challenge in the Kansas City area. I had NO idea that one of the founders was located in Kansas City! I decided to email for more information. After a few emails, I decided I'd interview for this challenge.

I met yesterday with Jessica Edwards, owner of The Energy Zone 151 who has teamed up with Jennipher Walters of Fit Bottomed Girls for this challenge. We chatted for a while about health, fitness and my weight loss issues (that's another blog entirely!). Long story short, I was sold on her ideas and willing to try something new! They approach weight loss on a personal level and try to customize an individual approach for each client to lose weight and feel better. SOLD. She's hoping to help my tummy issues, allergies (SCORE) and shakes I sometimes get when I'm hungry. I of course am not doing Jessica or her program justice (check out her website:, but hopefully you get the general idea.

The actual "challenge" doesn't start until September 30th (the day before I leave for MEXICO), but I met with her today and we discussed a few things including upping my protein intake. Her ultimate goal is to increase my metabolism so that I can burn fat more efficiently. I'm hoping to get a few friends on board with this challenge as well. It will also include grocery & restaurant outings and cooking lessons! It sounds like it should be a BLAST!!!

I'll keep you posted on the status. I'm attending a "happy hour" next week at Energy Zone 151 to sample some of their fabulous shakes. I had some of the energy tea today and I can say I didn't hit my normal 2pm wall!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Safety Tips For Labor Day

Safety Tips For Labor Day Holiday
RISMEDIA, September 1, 2010--This Labor Day weekend millions of drivers will take to the highway for one final summer getaway, making it one of the busiest holiday travel weekends of the year.

America's Road Team Captains, elite professional truck drivers with millions of accident-free miles, are offering advice on how to navigate through highway traffic and arrive at your destination safely. Tips include:

Prepare your vehicle for long distance travel: Check your wipers and fluids. Have your radiator and cooling system serviced. Simple maintenance can prevent many of the problems that strand motorists on the side of the road before you leave your home.

Plan ahead: Before you get on a highway, know your exit by name and number, and watch the signs as you near the off-ramp. Drivers making unexpected lane changes to exit often cause accidents.

Do not cut in front of large trucks: Remember that trucks are heavier and take longer to make a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.

Use a map or GPS: Surprisingly, few motorists plan their routes, even when driving through unfamiliar areas. Knowing the road is essential for safe driving - it allows you to anticipate lane changes and avoid
a panicked search for directions.

Leave early and avoid risks: Leave early and allow for delays in your travel schedule. Know your limitations: don't drive when tired, upset or physically ill.

Be aware of trucks' blind spots: When sharing the road with large trucks, be aware of their blind spots. If you can't see the truck driver in his or her mirrors, then the truck driver can't see you.

"Around Labor Day Weekend, traffic increases as motorists seek that final summer trip before the kids go back to school and the weather turns cool," said America's Road Team Captain Greg Nauertz. "Additional motorists make safe driving habits all the more important. Nothing beats planning, preparation and patience."