The Zebra Blog

Ask Denise: Name Tag


Q: Denise, do you think it is weird that I wear my REALTOR® name-tag every day? Some of my colleagues think it is over the top.

A: I actually think that when you wear your name-tag out in the field that it is a sort of uniform. When you wear a uniform, there is an expectation of how I interact with others. I also think that it opens the door to conversations with people who are curious about what you do. It obviously works for you…why fight it? Wear it proudly!!

Design Spotlight: Sue Leonard


This week’s design spotlight features MASTERY agent and one of our Mastery Superstars, Sue Leonard. Although Sue now calls Delray Beach, Florida home, she has called Germany, Great Britain, England, Wales, Spain, Dubai, and several locations around the United States “home”. She was already doing a great job of bringing that worldly knowledge to her real estate career, but needed a little help with developing a brand and a strong benefit statement around her experiences.

Read more »

How to Hire the Right People for Your Renovation


One of the first decisions you have to make when doing a home renovation is who you will work with to complete your renovation. I wouldn’t even think of starting a renovation until I had all the players in place. A renovation is a project that requires an immense amount of attention to detail. If one person messes up on their part of the renovation, it can affect many others and your timeline for completion.

Here are some questions you must ask a potential contractor: Read more »

Design Spotlight: Elizabet Pearson


This week’s design spotlight features the brand of our INSTANT IDENTITY agent Elizabet Pearson, of Seattle, Washington. Elizabet worked in the aerospace industry for twenty-eight years before coming into real estate. Over eleven of those focused on aircraft sales negotiations. She selected the Instant Identity design Outdoor Overture and selected beautiful sunset photos for her header. The understated color palette creates a great canvas to show off the amazing properties she works with. A personal script font and reliable serif caps font give her great options for personal and property branding. Read more »

Ask Denise: Stormy Weather


Q: Denise, we have a big storm coming in this weekend and I have a listing coming on today. Should I advise my client to wait?

That is a great question! On the one hand, if people are likely to stay home, they might spend some time looking for listings online. On the other hand, if the power is out, they may not be able to search online. On the one hand, if outdoor activities were planned that now they can’t do and you have an open house, that might have people flocking to your open house. On the other hand, if it is dangerous to leave the house, then your open house may be dead. Read more »

The 20 Most Common Mistakes Homeowners Make When They Renovate – Part II


Last week, I covered ten of the most common mistakes homeowners can make when they take on a renovation project.

Here is the rest of my list!

  1. Failing To Anticipate Chaos
    When you are renovating you can expect that something will go wrong.  Timing deadlines often can’t be met because when one things go wrong there is a domino effect on everything else.  Expect it, work with it, be patient and DO NOT get angry at your contractor or the trades.
  2. Read more »

Design Spotlight: Ellen Wang


This week’s design spotlight features MASTERY agent, Ellen Wang and her new branding. Ellen is a multilingual agent who has been in business since 1988. Since then, she has built a dynamic luxury real estate team and is now under the brokerage Avenue Properties. Ellen’s initial branding goals were to emulate the teal, charcoal gray and white color palette of her brokerage. Her brand also features woven bands of gold to further appeal to her target market. To tie in a sense of her personal side Ellen’s branding incorporates her favorite pastime, golf, into her team logo.

Read more »

Ask Denise: Considering Client Gifts


Q: Denise, I want to do something special this Christmas for my clients, but there are so many different religions represented that I don’t want to offend. What do you suggest?

A: In my experience you can rarely go wrong with either:

1. A real estate property report (not a gift but it is a thoughtful, professional gesture).

2. An invitation for a property consultation.

3. A gift of food (which can be a gift to celebrate togetherness in the winter).

Read more »

The 20 Most Common Mistakes Homeowners Make When They Renovate – Part I


Home renovation shows on TV are made out to be exciting, rewarding and easily summed up in a half or full hour. However, there are many things that you don’t see behind the scenes that can be very problematic during a remodel. Here are 10 of the most common mistakes homeowners can make when they take on a renovation project:

  1. No Preparation
    A home renovation requires an incredible amount of preparation. Most homeowners focus on the future design they want but the most important part of the renovation is in the planning. Making a realistic timeline is essential for any remodeling project. I have seen many projects severely delayed because the homeowner wasn’t aware that the custom kitchen cabinets they wanted took 12 weeks to build.
  2. Bad Measurements
    A homeowner should NEVER rely on their own measurements when doing a renovation. Have your home or the area you are remodeling professionally measured before you ever begin. Many kitchen cabinet companies require that they do their own measuring to ensure accuracy. Utilize these services to ensure an accurate measure and to save money.
  3. Avoiding Permits
    Many homeowners neglect doing their research to find out what they need permits for. Before you ever begin a project check with your local building department to find out what permits you will need for your project. If you don’t get a permit and something goes terribly wrong due to bad workmanship your homeowner’s insurance will not cover you.
  4. Ignoring Safety Requirements
    I have personally been involved in many remodeling projects. I can think of at least six incidents where something went wrong and someone was injured. Luckily all but one were minor injuries, but they could have been much worse. The worse accident I witnessed was when a contractor I was working with on a commercial building cut off a large part of his finger. The sight of the blood almost made me pass out! I had to rush him to the hospital because our first aid kit was not going to be enough to handle this incident. However, I happy that I had a kit with supplies in it to at least handle some of the blood loss until I could get him to the hospital. You need a first aid kit if you have anyone at your home doing any kind of renovation and it needs to be equipped to handle a number of injuries. Don’t forget about preventing accidents! Make sure you have safety goggles on hand and gloves and boots – these are essential safety items.
  5. Not Setting a Realistic Budget
    This is by far the most common mistake home renovators make. Even when you have a budget, pad that budget for overages. There will be overages! A budget can never be exact because you never know what you will find once you do the demo.
  6. Doing Your Own Demolition
    When you watch renovators doing demo of their project on TV it appears to be some exciting event that marks the beginning of this fantastic journey, but doing your own demo without expert guidance is like flying a jet with no training. What if you hit a live wire when you are bashing that wall down, or a pipe full of water because you failed to turn the water off?  Don’t even think about removing anything from your home without professional guidance by your side. It is not just about the electric and the water, but what if you are bashing down a wall full of asbestos? This is an area for the professionals. If you want to help, be supervised, but never do this on your own.
  7. Doing Too Much Demolition!
    Home renovators start doing demo and then stand back and think, “Wow this wall looks great opened up!” So they keep going. Soon they open up a support wall without realizing that they will just have to put that wall back up again. Too much demo will cost you a lot of money if you don’t know what you are doing.
  8. Electrical Neglect
    A very common mistake made when renovating is not upgrading your electrical panel. The electrical panel needs to be up to code and before you do any kind of renovation or ever think about starting demo you need to walk the job with an electrician to make sure you have every detail handled before you ever begin removing walls. Lighting is one of the most important elements in a home renovation; it can make or break a space and it can change the mood of a room. Remember, there are three kinds of lighting: accent lighting, task lighting and mood lighting. Most people focus only on task lighting and forget the other critical lighting types.
  9. Overloading on Trends
    When you are doing a renovation of any kind you have to make sure that you don’t go too trendy. While it is important to choose things that you like, you can’t make the home so trendy that you either have to keep updating it or it makes it hard to resell. You need to make sure that what you do can stand the test of time.
  10. Going Cheap on Your Materials
    The old adage that you get what you pay for is especially true when you are renovating. Important things like electrical and plumbing are things you just can’t scrimp on. Save money on trendy tile, but never scrimp on the important stuff. Also, hiring skilled labor and paying people for what they are worth is the most important part of your renovation. If you are going to do it, do it well and if you can’t afford it then wait to do it right, you won’t regret it.

Doing a renovation requires a major time and money commitment. It is like running a business. You need to be prepared, you need to handle a team of people working on your home and you need to be patient and on your best behavior with all your trades and your contractor. If you decide to be your own contractor, you better know what you are doing.

Having done so many renovations on so many different kinds of properties, it was hard to pick only ten common mistakes, so stay tuned! I have more words to the wise on what to watch our for when home renovating.

Design Spotlight: Jen Shaughnessy


This week’s design spotlight features the brand of our MASTERY agent Jen Shaughnessy, from Seattle, Washington. Operating in West Seattle for the last 9 years, particularly in the high income range market, Jen excels in finding not only the perfect property for her clients but the lifestyle they desire. She favors a mixture of modern color sensibilities, bold presentation, and subtle textures. Her brand is a great example of bright colors tastefully integrated with an understated layout.  Read more »

Awesome, timely advice for real estate agents. Delivered weekly.
  • Fresh trends
  • Best practices
  • Research and statistics

Enter your email and stay on top of things,