Easy Kitchen Updates That Sell

Learn ways to easily and inexpensively upgrade your kitchen to appeal to as many buyers as possible. Find out how updates to your kitchen can remove biases and sell your home faster than similar homes on the market.

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Your Home Is You

Your home is made of wood and nails. It’s made of doors and windows, but it’s more than that.

Home is the canvas on which much of our life is painted. It’s the place we long to return to. It’s the joy we celebrate when we find it. It’s the castle upon which our personal kingdom is built.

Your home is built with infinite memories. Crack open an old scrapbook or browse through your digital photo album and you’ll see the most prominent memories start at home. Graduation. Birth. Marriage. Birthdays. Holidays. Little League. These moments are captured at home.

At Coldwell Banker, we believe we know the feeling of home better than anyone else. It’s the foundation on which our brand was built and the reason it’s succeeded for 107 years. Millions of people have trusted us with helping them find a place to call home. That’s humbling.

The largest investment of their life. The most significant purchase people make. The place where children are raised. Hearts are broken. Puppies are brought to. Where love resides. The place that is an extension of those that abide therein. Home. Home is what people trust a Coldwell Banker agent with every single day.

Home is not just a place. Home is our calling. And we realize that your home is who you are.

That’s the message we want to convey in our latest ad for 2014. It will make it’s television debut on the Academy Awards this Sunday, March 2nd. Some brands run ads to grab attention, beat their chests or to entice you to visit their websites. Coldwell Banker runs ads to convey a message. A message we believe strongly in.

Your home is the only place in the world where you know one perfectly wonderful thing for certain…you’re home.

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A Look Inside “The Emirati Home”

The first ever Coldwell Banker International Film Festival kicks off today over at films.coldwellbanker.com. Over the course of the next three weeks, we’ll be showcasing short films from filmmakers across the globe that share with us their answer to the questions, “what’s the true value of a home?”

The first video of the inaugural film festival comes from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). When you think of the UAE, Dubai is probably the first city that pops into your head with its exotic resorts and magnificent skyscraper. But in this film, entitled ‘The Emirati Home’, filmmaker Siddharth Seth shows us how hospitality and entertaining play a central role in any Emirati home.

When we asked Siddharth about his inspiration for the film he remarked:

In the United Arab Emirates, over 80% of the population consists of expats. In spite of this peculiar demographic, the Emiratis, or the local citizenry, through their rich cultures and tradition have managed to maintain a very strong identity of their own. But more importantly, these figures prove that the Emiratis are splendid hosts. They are extremely welcoming and make it a point to make people from all different nationalities feel absolutely at home in the Emirates.

‘The Emirati Home’ is a tribute to the ‘Emirati’ hospitality and way of life which is a combination of the traditional and the modern, the familiar and the unfamiliar.

‘The Emirati Home’ also has one of the most memorable lines of the entire film festival. The narrator remarks that “it’s common to see a father teaching his son to ride a bike…only after he’s first learned to ride a camel.”

Take a look at what the true value of a home means in the United Arab Emirates in this first video of the film festival over at films.coldwellbanker.com.

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Introducing the 2013 Coldwell Banker International Film Festival

small movie poster Introducing the 2013 Coldwell Banker International Film FestivalThe true value of a home. Expressed around the world.

That is the theme of what will be a first in the real estate industry. For the next 3 weeks, Coldwell Banker Real Estate is going to share what “home” truly means not just in the US, but across the globe. A few months ago we worked with a company called, MoFilm, to commission the creation of a series of 10 videos that asked filmmakers to share with us what the value of a home is in their country. We received dozens of videos from the likes of China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Africa, Great Britain, Canada and more.

We selected 10 videos as winners and we will be unveiling one video a day starting on September 9. There are some amazing stories of home in this selection. What’s really interesting is how each video is different in the details, but the overarching concept remains the same: home is a place we love.

After the 10 international videos, we’ll continue the film festival by premiering 2 new episodes of our luxury home series World’s Most Expensive Homes. We’ve been to South Beach and Aspen in our first to episodes, but in Episode 3 we’ll head outside the US and see an amazing estate on the gorgeous beaches of St. Thomas. Then in Episode 4, we’ll explore a home that’s also a winery in the perfect place for such a residence, Napa, CA.

The true value of a home. Expressed around the world.

To close out the film festival, we’ll share some of the top entries in our Life, Camera, Action YouTube contest and announce the $25,000 grand prize winner on Friday, September 27 to close out the International Film Festival.

So from September 9 through September 27 every weekday we’ll be sharing a brand new video that showcases the true value of a home at films.coldwellbanker.com. We hope you’ll join us and share in what I guarantee will be the most interesting and entertaining home movies you’ll ever see.


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Confessions of a First-Time Homebuyer – Shopping Surprises

It has been a little over a month since my girlfriend and I took the leap and decided that NOW was the time for us to buy. With five plus years experience working for the Coldwell Banker brand and hours of HGTV television shows under our belts; we thought we’d be grizzled veterans who wouldn’t be surprised by anything. We were wrong.

While we did plenty of research, preparation and soul searching before we began shopping for homes, we’ve still discovered a lot of unexpected things about ourselves and the real estate market and process as a whole. Here are the top 5 things that have surprised us so far:

1. Pre-Approval is Easy

For most people, buying a home will be the single largest and most complicated purchase of our lifetimes. For the uninitiated, the paperwork and all the rules and regulations and requirements that go along with financing a home can strike uneasiness and fear into the best of us.

With that being said, to this point, I’ve been shocked at how easy the process has been. When my real estate agent put me in touch with a mortgage advisor to obtain my pre-approval I thought that it would take weeks of back and forth to receive it. Once again, I was wrong – I received it in minutes.

It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you hear that you’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage at X amount. The ease with which we obtained it coupled with the solid advice we were given gave us confidence and reassured us that we were qualified buyers with real buying power now. It threw us head first into home shopping mode.

2. Technology has Changed Everything. For the Better

In being a tech advocate and working on our various mobile platforms in the past, I’ve certainly been well aware of how technology has changed the way homebuyers shop for homes. I fully expected to scour through our mobile app and send my real estate agent just as many listings as she’d send me. However, what has surprised me is how technology on the back-end of the real estate process has made life a whole easier, neater and greener.

After seeing a few places, my girlfriend and I put an offer on a single family home a few weeks ago and I fully expected to receive a fat packet in the mail that I’d have to review, then sign, then somehow send back to my agent, who’d send it to the seller’s agent , who’d have to send it to the seller who was working in India, who’d have to sign again, etc. etc. I can only imagine how long and arduous that process must have been even a few short years ago.

Yet, with a simple product called DocuSign, my girlfriend and I were able to review documents virtually with my agent, sign it digitally which would send it off to a whole other continent in mere seconds! This collaborative tool saved us presumably weeks in time and saved a whole lot of trees as well. While things with that home didn’t end up working out (that’ll be a whole other blog post), we found out pretty quickly that it wouldn’t work and were able to jump right into looking at homes again; instead of waiting around for weeks and possibly missing out on something perfect.

3. Things You Didn’t Think Mattered Do

At the start of our home searching process, my girlfriend and I made a list of our ‘must haves’ and our ‘nice to haves’. While we did a great job of outlining what we wanted in our future home, we’ve been surprised to discover things we thought that didn’t matter actually do.

A few examples of items that matter a lot and factor greatly in our opinion of a home when we’re visiting it are:

A.) Home flow – It was hard to articulate it before actually visiting listings, but we’ve come to find over time, that we have a “flow” we prefer. Actually, it’s not even really a flow of a home that we prefer, it’s more of the flow of a home that we know won’t work. It’s a feeling you get as you walk through a home and envision your life there. It’s something you can only get from physically being in a place.

B.) Laundry – In many urban areas, most condos do not offer a washer/dryer within the actual home. We’ve been surprised at our delight whenever we’ve encountered a condo with an in unit washer/dryer. We’ve added it near the top of our list now because we know in the long run it’ll save us time, energy and even money.

C.) Odds & Ends- We’ve been surprised by how sharp our eyes have gotten. Small things actually do matter, like: Why is water pooling by the backyard door? What do you get from your condo association for the fees you pay? What are the percentages of homeowners who live in a building? What did the home sell for previously?

4. Buyers are Motivated. Properties are Moving Fast!

In my local market, homes are moving like Cracker Jacks at a baseball game; seriously fast! Homes seem to be hitting “pending” status almost as soon as they officially hit the market. Real Estate is most definitely back. My girlfriend and I put an offer on a fantastic condo on our favorite street that we fell in love with (after our first offer on another home fell through) but we were not only outbid substantially , the buyers bought it in cash!

In another instance, we were sent a listing that my girlfriend liked but I was on the fence about. After 2 weeks I warmed to it and decided that we should go see it. We saw the home and fell in love with it! Problem was that someone swooped in within those two weeks and put an offer on the home already. The moral of the story is that buyers like us have to move quickly and decisively because if we won’t; somebody else will! Homes are moving quick!

5. You’ll Know if it’s Home

‘Home’ is such a personal and important part of our lives; maybe even the most personal and important. It may sound stereotypical, but you absolutely do get a “feeling” whenever you walk into a listing. From my experience, I’d say that you know whether a house can be your home within seconds. Within those first few seconds you get a very specifc feeling that washes over you; a feeling that words do little to amply describe. You instantly imagine your furniture in certain places, breakfast on Saturday morning with your loved ones, get together’s in the backyard and even a little one running around barefoot one day.

I hope these recollections and home shopping surprises resonate with those of you who look back on your first experience on buying a home and to those who are thinking about doing it for the first time. It’s actually a lot of fun and not as bad/scary as I thought it’d be. I don’t know when my girlfriend and I will find ‘home’ and I’m sure they’ll be more surprises along the way; but I won’t stop searching until I get that feeling of ‘home‘ again.


We Believe in Home

Nelson Coldwell  0220 We Believe in HomeFive years ago, almost to the day, I joined  Coldwell Banker Real Estate.  I joined the company during a pretty bad time for real estate, as it was the beginning (or middle, depending on what part of the country you live in) of a sustained and painful real estate recession (or depression, again, depending on where you live).

But what I found once I became a part of the industry was that, as my former CEO Jim Gillespie always said, real estate professionals are realistic and rational, yet very positive people. Over these past five, tough years, I have constantly traveled the country, meeting tens of thousands of our company’s agents, managers and broker/owners. Two memories pop into my mind during these trips…

I traveled to Michigan in 2009 and met frustrated, yet surprisingly positive agents and brokers who had every reason to be down.  600 agents, the largest group I had met with at a local meeting, had traveled from all across that great state to Lansing to talk about the future and to be inspired. They couldn’t just sit around at their offices and be gloomy…because they just loved Real Estate.

I traveled to Las Vegas in 2010, and spoke at our affiliate company’s agent meeting and found the morale to be unbelievably good despite the huge setbacks they were experiencing in the local real estate market.  The owner, Bob Hamrick, a high energy, one-man can of Red Bull, electrified his agents and managers on stage and while never mincing words about the state of the market, he left them with a great sense of hope and purpose.

And I began to understand that the “purpose” is what makes this industry so special.

I came from the auto industry, and while the professionals I met there and have become close to are wonderfully smart, energetic and just really good people, I never walked away from a meeting with the belief that there was a bigger sense of purpose to what we did.  I do now.

And I began to understand that the “purpose” is what makes this industry so special.

Real Estate is at its core, a sales industry…but one with purpose.  And at Coldwell Banker, we are firm believers in this purpose.

We Believe in real estate and all the benefits it can provide.  We Believe in what a Home can do to help a person or family grow and succeed in life.  We Believe in the communities where we work and live.  We Believe that there should always be an emotional part of the real estate equation while never ignoring the rational side.  We Believe in the true Value of a Home, as wonderfully showcased in our 2012 TV commercial.  And in 2013, We Believe more than ever that a home is really your castle, and we celebrate all the memories and experiences that make it so.

Sandi Laughlin is the manager of my hometown Coldwell Banker office.  My daughters are in high school so I go to most of the high school basketball games.  And so does Sandy and her husband, even though her kids have graduated.  She Believes in our community.  Heck, she was involved in a majority of the families in the stands moving to town and finding a home.  She watched as those little Mendham kids (that raced up the stairs to claim the biggest bedroom before their brother/sister did on the day of the closing) grew to over six feet tall and are now starting for the basketball team and still boxing out the competition.  She feels the pride on Senior Day when the parents come on center court to greet their kids in front of the hometown crowd.  The feeling I’m going to have when I greet my daughter Kelly at center court when the senior Cheerleaders are introduced. And I bet Sandy will be there to watch.

At Coldwell Banker, We Believe in home and all the magical things that come with it.  And that our calling in life is to find the one that’s perfect for our clients.  Please enjoy our 2013 TV Spot, but more importantly, our purpose.

Join our conversation about all things home by following the hashtag #CBbelieves.


The Only Good Thing About Being Sick is Being at Home

It’s flu season. Or if you listen to the news it’s Flumageddon 2013. I guarantee right now you know someone or live with someone who is under the weather thanks to the wonderful season that is winter. There is nothing good about being sick. None of us want to get sick, but if you happen to be under the weather there’s truly no place like home.

I fell victim to illness this past weekend and started thinking about the creature comforts of home that you don’t appreciate until you’re under the weather. I have been on my fair share of business trips and vacations when you get sick and you just want to go home. So when I am sick and I can be in my own house, I have learned to appreciate it that much more.

We all know that home has its own feelings of comfort and familiarity that make it the place we know and love. When you’re sick some of those comforts are intensified. Who doesn’t have that favorite spot on the couch where you can just grab that ridiculously comfy blanket and nestle in for an afternoon of nothingness. There’s probably a particular food in your cabinet or freezer that is reserved for those who are under the weather. In our house, it’s popsicles.

Last weekend my oldest son was sick. My wife and two boys escaped the germs and headed out while I stayed home with him. We ended up watching movies on Netflix and just vegging out on the couch. We talked, joked around and discussed the intricacies of various Xbox games. He didn’t enjoy being sick, but I like to think we both enjoyed an afternoon at home together.

While I’m recovering from whatever this latest bug is I sit in my dedicated seat in the kitchen looking out at my winter wonderland of a backyard and nursing  cup of tea, which I never drink except when I’m at home and sick. I am anxious to be well and back to the normalcy that healthy human beings enjoy, but I’m also thankful for the creature comforts of home.

May you be healthy this flu-infested season, but if the germs are unavoidable may your home be a comfort to you as well. And wash your hands…a lot.

The Coldwell Banker Blue Matter 2012 Year in Review

In a few days, 2012 will be gone and we’ll have to retrain our minds to put “13″ in any form that requires a date. Resolutions will be made and quickly broken, then remade only to be broken again.

Our homes will go through another transformation as winter yields to spring and…well you know how it goes. Before 2013 comes to stay for 365 days, we wanted to look at what were the most viewed topics and content on our blog for 2012. The results are eclectic to say the least. Here are the the top 10 posts on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter for 2012:

10. 8 Must Have Kitchen Upgrades – What homeowner at some point doesn’t want a kitchen upgrade?

9. 2012 Bracket of Affordability – Our annual ode to March Madness that predicts the tournament based solely on sales price in the markets of the schools represented.

8. MTV Movie Awards: Home of the Year – Perhaps MTV should add a new category to its annual movie awards? Here are our recommendations.

7. Jim Gillespie: Remembering His Second Sale – The story of Coldwell Banker CEO, Jim Gillespie, second sale when he was first starting in real estate.

6. 5 Most Interesting Homes on TV – While some of these shows didn’t survive the year, the homes in them are still pretty memorable.

5. 9 Overlooked Items to Prep Your Home for Sale – This guest post from Coldwell Banker Vanguard agent, Cara Ameer, was not only highly trafficked, but incredibly useful.

4. A Zombie Proof House – This post is from 2011, but still attracts readers like a zombie to brains.

3. Homes for The Hobbit: The Shire – The home of Bilbo Baggins comes to life in The Hobbit and we take a look at just how great it would be to live there.

2. The Value of a Home – The post that launched the new Coldwell Banker campaign was the most shared post across social networks and also the most commented post of 2012.

1. The Homes of Abraham Lincoln – Honest Abe has had a good a year as any American president in history. Best selling book, highly rated movie and tons of awards awaiting in the new year. This post was our look at Abraham Lincoln’s homes before he moved into the White House.

Thanks for making 2012 a great year for the Coldwell Banker blog. We have so much more to share in 2013. Happy New Year to you and your home.

The Magic of Christmas at Home

I travel a lot. I have family in different parts of the country that we visit over the holidays, but to me there is nothing quite like being home for Christmas morning.

As a kid, I can remember waking up early and seeing all the presents under the tree, having the debate in my head whether it was too early to wake up mom and dad. In my house there was something special for breakfast on Christmas morning, like pancakes or some special type of breakfast bread. You got to stay in your pajamas well past noon or until it was time to head out to Grandma’s house.

Now that I have three boys (and another one arriving in April), the magic of being home for Christmas is ten times greater than my own Christmas morning. There’s a flurry of wrapping paper everywhere. The kids are excited to give my wife and me our gifts that they bought for $1 at a boutique at their school. The one thing I could do without is the way the package toys these days and you have to have a drill and Leatherman knife handy in order to break the toys from their packaging prison.

You can have your traditions at home that are tough to do when you’re at someone else’s house. One of ours is my wife makes pumpkin scones and Orange Julius drinks for breakfast. While I love visiting family, there’s still something special about being home for Christmas. It’s a feeling of comfort and warmth that make the holidays so special.

Whether your home has 1, 2 or 15 people in it this Christmas, we at Coldwell Banker wish you all the joy that we experience in our own homes.

What are your Christmas traditions or memories of home? Would love for you to share them in the comments or even pictures of your home on Christmas morning.

A Nostalgic Look Back After Selling the Home Where You Grew Up

The following is written by Charisse Compton on her blog Prince of the Apple Towns. When I saw what she wrote I thought it fit perfectly with everything Coldwell Banker is trying to communicate with our “Value of a Home” campaign and asked if she would be okay with my sharing it and she was obliged to do so. Plus she just so happens to be my sister-in-law So here is Charisse’s trip down memory lane in the wake of her parents finally selling the home in Illinois where she grew up. 

My parents recently sold their home of 30+ years. This was a bittersweet day for them, and for me, and for my oldest son, Asher, who cried hot crocodile tears when I told him Grandma and Papa were moving away from their Illinois, historic district, double-lot home next to the secret sidewalk, complete with the tree swing and sandpit, grill and outdoor tables, garage with a stocked fridge of pop and popsicles, and full of tractors, bikes, corn hole and and every other conceivable type of toy that made this home a grandchild’s paradise.

illinois farewell 3 A Nostalgic Look Back After Selling the Home Where You Grew Up

Who doesn’t love a swing attached to a tree?

This home was the scene of my entire childhood and adolescence. I can still see the sun flooding the front room of the house early in the morning. I can hear the continual flow of traffic from School Street just below the southeast bedroom. I know the individual creaks and groans of each door and floor board from that almost 100 year old home. I can even smell the familiar smell of oak mixed with my mom’s perfume and the smell of meat and onions browning on the stove. I remember our summers—filled with cherry picking and pitting, garden planting and harvesting, continual bike rides around the neighborhood, and even a locust skin collection (ew!).

I can still hear the sound of the canner in late summer and the smell of stew simmering through the house. I can picture the pantry full of canned green beans, zucchini relish, and stewed tomatoes and the freezer full of strawberry jam, corn, and sour pie cherries. My mouth waters at the memory of our summer menu—filled with sweet corn, asparagus, green beans, radishes and cucumbers in vinegar and sugar.

I remember the daily drudgery of the paper route (though I still miss those Christmas tips). I remember learning to drive and backing out of that angled garaged and long, narrow driveway. More than one of us clipped the mirror on that garage and flattened the strip of grass on the north side of the driveway!
I remember building our Barbie empires (as mom called them) in the basement.

illinois farewell 2 A Nostalgic Look Back After Selling the Home Where You Grew Up

Here’s to backyards.

I remember lying for hours under the lit Christmas tree and helping mom prep for Christmas brunches. I especially remember standing for hours at the stove and stirring, stirring, and stirring. Sometimes it was orange jello, sometimes eggnog, sometimes cider nog, but whatever the case, I was not allowed to quit. I was the baby after all and got the monotonous, boring jobs =)

I remember delivering baked goods to friends, neighbors and shut-ins on Christmas morning, along with a rousing rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” by the Rodman sisters’ trio. I remember heartily singing along to the Reader’s Digest Christmas music collection with my mom and sisters. A tradition we seem to have all passed on to our own children. I remember early morning big breakfasts and Sunday night nachos and malted milk shakes. I remember making snow ice cream.

And as I grew older, I remember this home as the place I brought my then boyfriend home to meet my parents.

rodmans at home A Nostalgic Look Back After Selling the Home Where You Grew Up

Mom, Dad, Jude and I in front of the house on our last visit.

Asher, my firstborn, took his first steps in this house.

I remember doing load after load of laundry here during Jared’s doctoral years (rather than having to pay a minimum of $2 per load at the facility at our on-campus apartment).

I remember sleeping Jude, at only 5 weeks in a basket on the kitchen table in this house.

All in all I look back at this home—the scene of my childhood, adolescence, college and pre-marriage years, and I am utterly struck with nostalgia. I love this place.

But those are just my memories. I was not the central character in that home. This is the home where my parents spent their early parenting years, retired years, and empty nest years. Thirty plus years of family drama unfolded on that stage. Thirty plus years of a faithful marriage, faithful ministry at church, and faithful discharging of various responsibilities.

And as I consider this scene where those years of my parents lives played out, I pray that my marriage and life would unfold in the same faithful way and cause my children to grow up and be nostalgic about their childhood home. I want their memories of their growing up years to be like mine. I want my children to see me faithfully serving in my home, the scene of a happy marriage and the stage where small children grow up feeling nostalgic not just about the four walls and roof over their head, but the home that was created there.

illinois farewell A Nostalgic Look Back After Selling the Home Where You Grew Up

Haven, being the least acquainted with the romance of this home, was oddly inconsolable about leaving. Here she is prostrate with grief!

And in case you were wondering the home was sold by Coldwell Banker Heart of America…in 2 days.