The Julie Pogue Properties Louisville KY Real Estate Blog

Securing Prescription Drugs

Securing Prescription Drugs During Open Houses

PillBottleSecuring prescription drugs during open houses is a precaution all REALTORS® need to remind sellers to prioritize during the selling process since they will be inviting the general public into their home to view it. There is big money to be made in the sale of certain prescription drugs, and open houses are among the easiest ways for individuals to acquire them.

REALTORS® can help the fight toprevent prescription drug abuse. On a daily basis, misused prescription drugs kill more than 40 Americans, and 2,500 young people abuse a prescription drug for the first time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, an ABC News report noted that criminal prescription drug cases have risen nearly 85 percent in San Diego County alone over the past five years.

One reason Drug thieves target open houses is because homeowners don’t consider their prescriptions to be items of discernible value. However, when you consider the street value of some prescription drugs can total into the thousands of dollars, it is no wonder why someone would want to steal them.

The ease of taking prescription drugs from an open house is the main reason homes are targeted. Consider the instance where an individual asks to use a bathroom during an open house. This affords an opportunity to lock the door and quickly search for prescription drugs in the most likely place they will be located. Once found, thieves can easily place dozens of pills into their pocket and return the empty container exactly as they found it. Usually no one will notice the pills are missing until the thief is long gone.

The real estate industry is taking significant measures to prevent prescription drug thefts during open houses. In particular, the Greater Association of San Diego REALTORS® has joined forces with drug rehabilitation and law enforcement officials to curb the problem. Together, these organizations have formed the Safe Homes Coalition to warn others about prescription drug thefts occurring in open houses and urge homeowners to secure and dispose of their prescriptions drugs properly. The coalition is even distributing 12,000 sealable bags for REALTORS® to secure containers during open houses. Likewise, Representative Randy Hultgren (IL) has been strongly urging residents of Illinois’ 14thCongressional District to participate in efforts to prevent prescription drug theft and abuse. Most recently Hultgren urged constituents to participate in the nationwide drug “take-back” day on April 26, 2014.

A recent REALTOR Magazine article, “Keeping Clients’ Cabinets Safe,” reported on another protective measure real estate brokers can take, called MedSafe,...

Mudroom Staging

Mudrooms: Should You Stage One in Your Listing?

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine

Given the harsh winter across the country this year, more home buyers may have added a mudroom to their wish-lists. Could staging one in your listing win over more buyers’ hearts?

The home owner may already have the perfect space carved out for one. If that’s the case, all you may need to do is bring in a bench and add some hooks or cubbies for extra storage.

The mudroom is a place to transition from the outside to the inside. The idea is to create an organized place for hanging coats and bags, and removing those muddy shoes or organizing the children’s items as soon as you step in the door — and so they’ll be easy to grab when you’re ready to step back out the door.

As such, the location of the mudroom needs to make sense if you stage one. Mudrooms need to be close to an exterior door or the garage. Otherwise, the purpose is defeated if you have to track your rain boots and wet umbrellas across the house.

Here are some easy ways to add characteristics of a mudroom to your listings.


Add some cubbies for extra storage. This can be a perfect spot to store shoes, kids’ toys, or all of that ever-growing winter garb.


Offer up a bench where home owners can sit down and remove those dirty shoes, instead of trying to balance on one foot to do it.


Photo credit: Ryan Dressel, Stage Right Design Inc.,




Offer up an easy wipe-off mat or dress it up a bit by trying out this idea of using a tray filled of rocks to store those muddy boots near a door.


Add some hooks for hanging coats or book bags. If the home doesn’t have an entryway closet, your buyers may never miss it.


A mudroom...

Make Home Valuation Systems Work to Your Advantage

Make Home Valuation Systems Work to Your Advantage

Sam DeBord

Sam DeBord

By Sam DeBord

Online home valuations have a rocky history.  From automated valuation models (AVMs) used in lending during the mortgage boom to consumer-focused products like Zillow’s Zestimate, the accuracy of these valuations has always been an issue for real estate professionals.  Despite online valuations’ inability to consistently provide an accurate home value on an individual basis, one thing is clear:  They’re very popular.

While the misinformation creates fairly regular confusion for consumers, the regular annoyance to many real estate professionals has simply become an opportunity for others. Consumers gravitate to online valuations in droves, so many professionals are starting to offer their own versions.

There are plenty of online valuation tools for agents and brokers available, and although they’re not a brand new concept, the number of companies offering them is growing.  The simplest versions are standalone websites that do just one thing: get home sellers to enter their address and contact information, and deliver them an estimated value report.

Companies sell these websites directly to agents, and provide some training and networking online with other users to learn to drive traffic to them.  We tested the product from Home Value Leads in California. Facebook ads and Google pay-per-click campaigns are used to attract home sellers who are curious about their home’s value. The sellers click on an ad about home prices in their neighborhood, fill in their address and contact info, and receive their value report. The agent can follow up to explain the inaccuracies that are inherent in an online valuation and offer a personalized follow-up or CMA to better educate the consumer.

Full-service website vendors are integrating the home valuation tools as well. The most recent one we tested was from Real Geeks in Hawaii.  Customers simply add it to their current Real Geeks website with a call-to-action asking sellers “What’s Your Home Worth?”  They can also drive traffic with paid ads. The same follow-up and personalized explanation with a consumer makes the process educational for the home owner and valuable for the agent. It’s tied in to the back-end of the agent’s current website, so the leads from sellers and buyers exist in the same database.

While it might seem like a simple form on a website could generate the same leads, the simplicity and single focus of encouraging a user to enter their address is the beauty behind these products. Conversion rates are far higher on these tools than when simply asking a user to fill out a form on a regular website. They’re built to prod each user along to the next step, and they do it well. Even without all contact information, simply getting an address from a consumer might be reason to send a postcard to the homeowner who might be thinking of selling.

Many of us roll our eyes when we hear “But Zillow says my house is worth X.” It’s a professional annoyance, but if we’re honest about it, it’s a genius marketing tactic. These new tools create an opportunity to get past being frustrated with the tactic, and to use it yourself to create some new customer contacts. With consumers now on your website, you can start the education process about home values right away.


Five Tech Tips

Five for Wednesday, #18


Curated in this week’s Five for Wednesday: Instagram and real estate, the “most ambitious mobile hot spot ever made,” and more.

1. Instagram continues to surge in popularity, and it’s an increasingly important part of a real estate agent’s social media plan. Check out these 10 tips to make yourself an Instagram pro.

2. More on Instagram: read Inman’s real estate-specific advice.

3. It’s an all-in-one mobile hotspot, projector, back-up battery, and media streamer that weighs less than a pound and runs Android. Available later this week from Sprint for $449.

4. Samsung, Dell and Intel have formed the Open Interconnect Consortium, hoping to be the leaders in efforts to get gadgets from different manufacturers to talk to each other in the Internet of Things. Hopefully they’ll play nice with the Allseen Alliance, a similar group with similar goals (but backed by different manufacturers).

5. If you have an Android device and have been disappointed that you can’t mirror your display to Chromecast, it’s time to get happy: the feature is live for certain Android devicesMake sure you update your Chromecast app before you try this out.

Joseph Sullivan

Joe Sullivan is a User Experience Designer for the Center for REALTOR® Technology.


Fix the Cap

Fix the Cap

Steve_Brown_2014By 2014 NAR President Steve Brown

Because of NAR’s efforts and the REALTOR® Party‘s diligence, I am pleased to report that the United States House of Representatives passed the Mortgage Choice Act this past month. This bill would return many options to consumers as they shop for mortgages and other settlement services.

As a broker with affiliated companies, I know first hand how the current definition of points and fees for affiliated services in the qualified mortgage regulation has limited consumer options and healthy competition.

The opponents of the service fee cap reform say that the cap protects the consumer. This argument is based on assumptions that simply find no merit in practice. Rather the current cap can force consumers to use less than desirable title and insurance providers, at rates and/or services not as good as can be offered by an affiliate service provider.

The bill passed by the House would end the current 3% cap on fees and points paid to joint venture services and bring them under similar rules applicable to non affiliated services, such as title and insurance. Under the Mortgage Choice Act, affiliated and non affiliated service providers are treated the same, while still protecting borrows from risky loan products.

We applaud the House for listening to the concerns of consumers by passing this important piece of legislation. Now the Senate must take action.

Thank you to all — both our professional lobbying staff and our members who communicated with Congress about this legislation.

We will keep you posted on the progress of the bill.


Price Expectations in the Next 12 Months

REALTORS® Price Expectations by State in Next 12 Months, Based on May 2014 REALTOR® Survey

REALTORS® generally expect home prices to increase in all states and the District of Columbia over the next 12 months, according to the May 2014 REALTORS® Confidence Index. The median expected price increase is 4.0 percent (same as in Feb-April 2014)[1].

Expected price movements depend on local conditions relating to housing demand and supply, demographics, and job growth. The difficulty in accessing mortgage financing and modest expectations about overall economic and job prospects are factors underpinning the modest price expectation. The expected price growth was highest (red) in states with low inventory levels, strong cash sales, and strong growth sectors (e.g., technology, oil).


[1] The median expected price change is the value such that 50 percent of respondents expect prices to change above this value and 50 percent of respondents expect prices to change below this value. A median expected price change is computed for each state based on the respondents for that state. The graph shows the range of these state median expected price change. To increase sample size, the data is averaged from the last three survey months.


How Staging Landed the Most Unexpected Buyer

How Staging Landed the Most Unexpected Buyer

By Patti Stern, PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

My recent clients, Leta and Carl, spent over 20 years in their Hamden, Conn., home. For years they contemplated selling but delayed — hoping someday one of their daughters would want to raise their own family in the home. However, neither of their daughters had an interest in the property. While it is a beautiful home with more than 2,800 square feet of open living space, it was in need of some updating.

Their daughters are like many of today’s younger home buyers, who make up the largest groups of today’s consumers. Indeed, Millennials — the generation under the age of 33 and slightly older Generation X — represent more than 60 percent of today’s home buyers, according to a recent survey by the National Association of REALTORS®.

Many of these younger buyers want an already updated home, but with more than 75 percent of the homes in New England built before 1990 that poses a challenge for today’s older sellers, many who likely last updated their home’s decor 10-20 years ago. Older, outdated homes may give buyers a lot of reasons to cross the property off their list.

According to real estate pro Megan Stilwell Posner of Julia B Fee, who we recently worked with on her Irvington, N.Y., listing, today’s younger buyers only see “what is” and have difficulty visualizing how a space may look with a few simple changes.

“I often walk buyers through a property and they’ll comment that they don’t like an area rug or paint color,” she said. “Those things, which are easily changed or not part of the home at all, influence their decision and often will prevent them from considering a property.”

For Leta and Carl’s daughters it was even harder to envision their parent’s home as anything other than what it looked like the past few years.

So with no family buyer, they brought in our team to stage the home and prepare it for a spring sale. We staged and updated several key rooms — painting, removing dated wallpaper, and replacing carpeting as well as updating light fixtures and installing new granite counter tops in the kitchen. We then selected modern rental furnishings to style the home to appeal to a young family.

Not only did the home look great but it attracted a buyer immediately — Leta and Carl’s own daughter and her husband who prior to staging couldn’t envision the home as an option. After our staging they saw the home as move-in ready and chose to purchase the property before another buyer could make an offer.


What we did: A fresh coat of paint, updated light fixtures, and new furnishings turn this open living and dining room into a modern, inviting space perfect for entertaining.


What we did: Our team repaired damage in the kitchen, shifted the island to open up the layout and provide enough room for a new breakfast nook. New modern, granite countertops brighten the space.


What we did: This bathroom was dark and the wallpaper made it feel outdated. We removed the wallpaper and painted a fresh neutral color to update the space.


What we did: We also removed the wallpaper in this master bedroom, painted, and installed new carpeting. Modern furniture placed just right shows off this large room.

PattiABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patti Stern is a principal of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, and an interior decorator and accredited home stager. She and her team offer decorating and home staging services for individuals, real estate professionals, builders, and others in the industry. For more information visit...