5 Ways to Invest Your Tax Refund into Your El Paso Home!

Last year the government shipped out over 111 million refunds to American tax payers! Although you may not get enough to buy that dream home or gallivant around Europe for a month, I bet you got enough to spruce up a few facets of your house that would make a great investment! Here are a few quick ideas for that tax return that is currently burning a hole in your pocket! Have your front door refinished or repainted. This should cost about $500. Replacing the front door would be great, but that can be up to $1,395 for a new steel entry door or $3,259 for a new fiberglass model. So, if you still like that front door, just refurbish it. By the way, you can recoup from 60 percent to 80 percent of the cost of a new door when you sell your house, according to the 2017 Cost vs. Value Report in Remodeling Magazine. Image result for cool front doors Pick out a new color for the trim on your house, like the fascia boards and edges around windows. You’ll need a gallon bucket of high-quality exterior paint ($50-$80). You might need more to do the garage door, too. For exterior paint, we recommend good preparation, a primer and 100 percent acrylic base paint. Add fiberglass insulation to your attic. This is one of those improvements that Remodeling Magazine says can greatly add to the value of your home. Add fiberglass loose fill insulation on top of existing insulation to get to an R-38 level, according to the magazine. This will improve the comfort level in your home and save some money on your heating and cooling bills. Redo a small powder room. If you don’t have to replace the floor or the toilet, this is a job that can be done for about $1,500. You can get a vanity off-the-shelf in a big box store or order one that’s a little better quality. Then buy a sink, new faucets and hardware at a plumbing supply store and use a low-cost remnant piece of quartz or granite for the counter top. Then repaint the walls yourself. Image result for small bathroom Install a fire pit in your backyard. Gathering around a fire pit is a great way to spend more time outdoors in the evening; these cozy pits are becoming a near necessity for the ambiance in Arizona backyards. Have a stone fire pit built for about $1,200 or do it yourself with a kit for a few hundred. You can use propane to light your fire or extend a gas line (a more expensive option). But be sure to hire a licensed plumber to install the gas connections. Image result for backyard fire pit  
Some info gathered from Azcentral.com

Marriott Courtyard-Downtown Ballpark

This new Courtyard by Marriott is coming to Downtown El Paso. The new multi-floor hotel will have a prominent spot along I-10 and across the street from Southwest University Park, home of the El Paso Chihuahuas. Image provided by Strategic Solutions

West Towne Marketplace

West Towne Marketplace will be a 500,000 square foot retail center at the corner of Desert Boulevard North and Paseo Del Norte on El Paso’s West Side. It will feature retail, restaurant, and entertainment options all on a southwest landscaped, 63-acre property.  

O. T. Bassett Tower / Aloft Hotel

One of Downtown El Paso’s signature sky scrapers is getting a major update! We were pleased to provide title and escrow services for  the O.T. Bassett Tower. Recently, we were given a private tour as the iconic tower begins it’s transformation into the city’s first Aloft Hotel. Here is your first look at the progress of construction!

Do your listing photos POP?!

Listing photos are at minimum, EXTREMELY important and at most, one of the most important things you do to truly represent your seller well! later-later Photos of your listing are crucial when selling a home and presenting it online to potential suitors. The New York Times recently featured several suggestions from professional stagers and interior photographers on how to achieve a picture-perfect home, including: Trim the belongings. “Instead of having lots of little things along a countertop or table, have one bold vessel or large plant, or a trio of objects that read as one whole,” says Laure Joliet, a photographer based in Los Angeles. “This helps anchor the photo and keeps the space feeling serene.” Keep plants and knick-knacks away from windowsills and off the piano top or coffee tables. In the kitchen, clear away all the refrigerator magnets, paper towels, and majority of small appliances. Before taking a photo in the bathroom, open the shower curtain, close the toilet lid, and remove all toiletries from counters. Keep everything clutter-free. Harness the light. Wash the windows and open the curtains or pull up the blinds, suggests photographers in The New York Times’ article. “Natural light allows for depth in the shadows and highlights in the window, which makes a room look the way it feels,” Joliet says. “It can make your real estate photos look that much more high-end and designed.” Add in some pops of color. Accents like colorful flowers or a throw pillow can help enhance the photos. “Instead of a fussy bouquet, a vase filled with one type of flower, or greens is best,” Joliet says. She recommends eucalyptus branches. To drape a throw: Grab the middle of the blanket and hold it up so that it cascades evenly down. Place it diagonally at the foot of the bed “with the point up toward the long side of the bed and the fringes hanging slightly off the front,” says Donna M. Dazzo, president of Designed to Appeal, a home-staging firm. To drape it over an armchair, tuck the bottom behind a throw pillow or allow the throw to cascade off the arm, she says. contemporary-living-room Hang artwork lower. “We tend to place our art a little bit lower than maybe somebody would in personal use, because in a photo, if you place it too high, the ceiling looks very low,” David C. Salvatore, creative director for Edge Mid-Century Designs in Clifton, N.J., told The New York Times. “Everyone loves high ceilings—and certainly, if you have the ceilings, you need to put in a huge vertical piece” to make sure you show the height.” Focus on curb appeal: Prune overgrown trees, particularly those that are obscuring the view of the house in any way, Alberto Lau, a real estate photographer in San Diego, told The New York Times. “Take the cover off the barbecue grill unless it is hopelessly rusty, in which case it’s better to move it [out of] the frame of the photo,” he says. Keep any cars away from the front of the house or driveway (place cones or signs, if necessary, to keep others away from parking in the front the day you shoot). Make sure the leaves are raked and trash bins are hidden from view. Source: “9 Ways to Make Your Home More Photogenic,” The New York Times (April 14, 2017)

LST Newsdesk – March 2017

LST Newsdesk Closing times are speeding up REALTOR®Mag – Closing times were way down in February, falling from 51 days in January to 46 days for all loans last month, according to the latest Ellie Mae Origination Insight Report. Places where jobs and affordable housing intersect DSNews.com – Everyone’s dream is to find a city with great job opportunities and also affordable housing.  A combined study by Zillow and LinkedIn has found a few of those places that they call “Sweet Spots.” Bidding wars to heat up this Spring REALTOR®Mag – Likely to be a hallmark of this year’s spring home selling season: Bidding wars. As home listings are scarcer and buyer demand remains high, home shoppers are finding a lot more competition this spring, particularly in hot markets like the San Francisco Bay area, Denver, and Boston. The real estate industry has something the Internet can’t offer Washington Post – Real Trends, has been tracking for 40 years how U.S. real estate agents do their jobs. And over the past decade, the Internet has disrupted almost every aspect of a transaction that sits at the core of the American Dream. While the Internet has pummeled the middlemen in many… Technology News 5 tech tips that pro travelers use USA Today – Luggage? Check. Wallet? Yep. Tech? You bet. Today’s travelers likely have some high-tech companions to help keep them organized, productive, entertained, and in touch with those who matter. But to avoid any hiccups while on the road the following is a look at a few considerations before you pack your gear-to-go. Google Maps lets you record your parking location, time left at the meter TechCrunch – Google Maps has just added a handy feature that will help users remember where they parked. This appears as a new menu option when you tap the blue dot, and will place a “P” icon on the map so… Other News Spring cleaning is a perfect time to get your financial house in order USA Today – Monday was the first day of spring and thoughts of spring cleaning may be on your mind. In addition to sprucing up your home for the upcoming warm weather, it might be even more important to take some to time to spruce up your finances.

Title is what we do. We want to be your El Paso title company…

In today’s world, many businesses try too hard to be your “one stop shop” therefore forgetting why they went in to business in the first place. To be the best they could be at whatever service they provide. We started our company in 1999 with the goal of being the only title company you’d ever need and we’ve stuck to that goal. We don’t want to be your banker, insurance provider, mortgage company or attorney. We want to be your title company.

   

Inman Connect 2017 In Review…

A couple weeks ago our marketing team headed to New York City for the real estate conference to end all real estate conferences, Inman Connect NYC! If you weren’t able to attend, fear not! Read more for that must-know take-a-ways from this year’s gathering of the minds!
Inman Connect 2017:
The Proof is in the Numbers
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So you may be wondering what the heck I mean when I say that failure is proof that you’re doing something…..so here we go- one of the main take-a-ways that I got out of Inman this year was something you’ve probably heard me say over and over if you’ve been in any of my classes or follow our FB page…just do it! The truly successful people in our industry are those that saw something cool and just TRIED IT. The more people I meet, the more I realize that what sets the total rock stars apart from everyone else is their willingness to try new things and their ability to grasp the fact that they’ll never be an expert at anything if they don’t step out in faith and take on new things!
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Now Let’s Break it Down!
 
DATA is Your Friend-
Most large companies use data to predict who will buy what, when they’ll buy it, where they’ll by it and why they will. The real estate industry has the ability to harness and use data better than anyone but until recently, we haven’t.  That is all going to change soon.  Imagine if you could load your entire sphere of influence into a program that would then run over 2000 data points and spit out of list of who would be more than likely to buy or sell a home in the next 6 months. Would that be something you’d be interested in? Frankly, would that blow freaking your mind?!?! Well that is coming, and in some form or another, is already here! It’s called predictive analytics- google it.  It’s not super cheap but then again, neither are any other lead generating sites…and your bang for your buck could be fantastic here. For more info on this, just reach out to me!
“Invest in your expertise. Be the expert of your community because local data is more powerful than national data.”
-Ashton Gustafson
Facebook? Like, whatever…
Almost every home buyer today is starting their home search online and who has the most search friendly platform in the world? Facebook.  If you still think that Facebook isn’t worth your time, think again.  A few years ago your parents or grandparents probably didn’t know what “The Facebook” even was, right? And now? They’re on it, getting in political arguments and exchanging recipes for spaghetti squash aren’t they? YES, they are! That means that not only has Facebook come full circle but also that you, as rock-star, mega-REALTOR-to-the-stars, need to be there! Facebook advertising is the most directed, effective and inexpensive marketing that money can buy. So use it! If you need help, let me know!
 
“92% of buyers start their home search online today.”
-Scott Shapiro, Facebook 
 
Technology-
Virtual reality is something we’ve been talking about for a while now and guess what? Everyone else is talking about is now too! The ability to walk someone through your listing in an completely immersive way from the comfort of your office or a friendly neighborhood Starbucks while sipping your over-priced cup of coffee sounds pretty amazing to me (that is except for the over priced coffee). How about you? The good thing is that according to an Inman Connect speaker from google, if you aren’t using VR yet, you haven’t missed the boat! Again, for more info, reach out to me or Aaron!
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Sweat the Small Stuff & Get Old School-
Networking, volunteering, FOLLOWING UP with past clients and being active in your community are all at the heart of how we grow our business. We know this, but sometimes we start hiding behind the technology that is meant to help our business, not BE our business. Lead generation tools are awesome, but the person behind them has to be MORE awesome. Last year 80% of people picked an agent based on a personal recommendation. Often, I think we go for the gold, get the leads then totally forget the importance of nurturing them!
Repeat from Last Year But Still as Important:
Lets Get Uncomfortable-
If something makes you uncomfortable, it is probably a good thing. If you’re feeling extra cozy with what you’re doing, it’s probably time to change things up. The goal is to grow, as a person and as a Realtor.  If you aren’t growing, your business isn’t either.
 
I could go on for another hour but let’s get to work..and do me a favor, be remarkable!
Sam T.