The Zebra Blog

The Impact of Trends in Real Estate Investing – What You Need to Know

Smart investors are always on the hunt for the next big thing. I have been studying real estate investing trends for years, and I have identified trends that greatly affect investors. Here are a few of them:

“Secondary” City Growth

Many years ago, I began predicting great areas to invest in based on criteria I personally follow. These criteria have never let me down. One of the criteria I always look for is the incline and decline of “Primary” or “Secondary” cities.

In order to understand real estate markets, you must research both the primary and secondary cities in an area. For example, in the Pacific Northwest, if you want to see where the trends in real estate investing are, you must first research the primary city and then its surrounding secondary cities. Read more »

Branding Spotlight: Chan Davies

Chan Davies wanted a refreshing brand design that appeals to new buyers in Bothell. The crisp geometric pattern around the edge of her marketing materials creates a soft frame for her valuable content. The rich teal tone combined with luxe gold perfectly blend to convey modern minimalism. To provide additional approachability and comfort, her name treatment is in all lowercase letters, which compliments the smooth calligraphy font in her diamond shape monogram. With this bright and cheery brand, Chan is ready to catch the eye of her target market.

Read more »

Ask Denise: County vs Community

Q: “Denise, I am working on creating some mailing templates for my database with your company. My question is regarding statistics and information. I have clients all over the county, but I would ideally like to work in a smaller area. Do I include stats for the whole county or just the area that I want to work in?”

A: This is a problem that many agents have, especially as their businesses grow: Clients move out of the neighborhood, referrals turn into past clients who deliver their own referrals. It’s a good thing! However, when faced with an introspective moment like this, it provides an opportunity to narrow down your focus IF that is what you want to do (and it sounds like it is). Read more »

Direct Mail vs. Email

There isn’t a week that goes by that an agent tells me that they have decided to keep in touch with their past clients and sphere database primarily by an email newsletter. That email may be created by their company or it may be custom-created in MailChimp or Constant Contact, but the more important issue is that they have decided NOT to mail.

The reasons they give for making this change are predictable:

  1. It’s cheap or free.
  2. It’s easy. (Especially if their company puts it together or it is done automatically.)
  3. It may be “hands off.”
  4. Some of the content is better-delivered and received in an e-format.
  5. They say that their clients prefer an enewsletter.

While I agree that some content is absolutely better-delivered and received in an e-format (more on that below), I will say that reasons 1-3 should be thrown out the window. Read more »

Banding Spotlight: Klarman & Zaugg

Erik Zaugg and Joe Klarman, team leaders of the Russell Jones brokerage in the heart of Seattle, envisioned a personal brand design inspired by pulp fiction magazines–like the comic book-style magazine printed in the early to mid-1900’s. We started by creating a logo with text similar to the magazine headlines, and a custom Seattle Skyline illustration. We built the rest of the brand with a angular line dividing their names and information. On the Home Book cover, the diagonal inspired a stylish and eye-catching layout that invites viewers to look inside.

Read more »

Is Your Comfort Zone Killing Your Business?

Think back to the last time a buyer asked you to show a home on your day off. Did you agree to do it? If so, you may be operating in your Comfort Zone!

Have you made a commitment to yourself to start doing video, but have made excuses for yourself? Lack-of-time, need-a-haircut, bad-lighting type of excuses? If so, you may be operating in your Comfort Zone!

Do you have an overpriced listing on the market right now? If so, you may be operating in your Comfort Zone! Read more »

Ask Denise: Digital Checklists

Q: “Denise, I am working on creating a checklist for listing a property (I know – finally!). I have two other team members and each of us have different responsibilities on the list. For example, I always order the signs while my assistant is the one who handles the flyers and print marketing. We are on the go a lot so a paper copy doesn’t really work for us. Ideally it would work on both computer as well as phone.  Any suggestions?” Read more »

Branding Spotlight: Kathy Madsen & Mary Nelson

Kathy and Mary wanted a design that was cutting edge but still classic. Both love the emotional power of luxurious black-and-white photography, and so their brand includes a filmstrip of lifestyle photos in the header. The overall palette of pale taupe and charcoal grey keep the design warm, but let the content and property photos have the spotlight. Their logo is built with strong serifs and a watermark monogram fir very distinct and polished presentation. Together, they have decades of experience in the industry and their new brand is perfect for the “white glove” service they offer their clients.

Read more »

Does Your Business Need a Visual Disruption?

We have a new employee at The Lones Group this week (welcome, Izabella!) and with it came the usual reconfiguring of desks and equipment. The plan is in place and by the end of the week, furniture will be moved, vacuuming of baseboards and spaces behind desks will happen, people will move around and starting next week, there will be a renewed energy in the design office.

We even have a fair amount of old electronics that are being disposed of as well as some random 3.5″ floppy disks (yes really!).


Creative people, like my design team, need visual disruption from time to time. If you rearrange the furniture in your living room, bedroom, or even switch sides of the bed once a year, you know what I am talking about. Read more »

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