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Holiday Open House

Here’s my recipe for a Holiday Open House.  The goal is to celebrate the season in a warm, inviting home.  The holidays give a perfect opportunity to showcase a home.


Invite the neighbors, as well as those folks who are looking for a new home.  You can reach prospective buyers by inviting agents you know who regularly represent buyers.  The invitations should mimic a Holiday card.  The Open House signs on the street should also be festive.  Unlike other Open Houses, have the homeowners in attendance.

Home Decor

Decorate the home with traditional holiday trimmings.  A Christmas tree adorned with beautiful ornaments and flickering lights makes an inviting focal point.  Place wreaths in the windows and on the doors.  Remove furniture to make the space larger.

A crackling fire (if there is a fireplace) gives off a romantic glow and creates a peaceful ambiance.  I’ve use color crystal color sticks and pine cones, which turn the flames green, red and blue– a wow factor.

Curb Appeal

Use flood lights to create dramatic effects.  Point them to the front door and other outdoor walls.  Uplight any trees nearby.  Or you can just have an electric candlelight in each window.  Stick with classic white lights– you don’t want the Coney Island effect with colored lights. Don’t go crazy with the blow up Grinch and Santa Sleigh. Continue reading this post


Posted by: Joseph Ferrara on December 21st, 2009 under Buying or Selling a Home

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Holiday Spirit: Pro Bono Real Estate Services

We are rich only through what we give, and poor only through what we refuse.

Anne-Sophie Swetchine

For Thanksgiving.

My experience tells me that real estate professionals have done transactions for friends and family for no commission.  This is pro bono service.  Attorneys do the same. But while the attorney Code of Ethics provides for this charitable work, the Realtor Code of Ethics does not.  I think it ought.

I have lobbied for the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) to include a pro bono provision in the COE.  The purpose is to recognize that Realtors ARE doing pro bono work.  It will get mainstream media coverage and perhaps help boost the Realtor brand, which has taken a beating over the years.

Even if it never makes it to the NAR COE, consider, if you are able, being a pro bono broker for someone in your neighborhood who is in dire straits. Give and become rich.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Posted by: Joseph Ferrara on November 25th, 2009 under Realtor


Blogging Tip: 5 Ways To Be Interesting


You probably have no problem explaining the First Time Home Buyer’s Credit—so do about 1,000 other real estate professionals.  That’s all well and good but it takes more to stand out from the crowd, more to stand out from your competition.

This lesson is about running ahead of the blog pack.

Here are 5 tips to help make your blog posts (and you) more interesting to readers:

1. Put up or shut up. Tell your readers about your real life real estate experiences. Show us your battle scars.   Prove you can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

2. Be funny. OK, not everyone is good at humor, but give it a try.  Or just post an amusing photo, video or cartoon.  If you’re desperate, pick a bad photo from your MLS—and tell folks WHY it’s bad.

3. Color outside the lines. Be different in your approach to a subject.  Write about a topic in a way no one else has considered.  Make your reader scratch their head and say “Wow, I never thought about it that way.”

4. Be incongruous. Throw folks off their stride by doing the unexpected.  Mix and mismatch.  You’ve got to get a reader’s attention.  I like using images and cartoons.  Try an off-the-wall headline that grabs attention.  Unusual metaphors help:  Why Renting is Like Dating a Cheerleader (figure that one out)

5. Break news or be one of the first to spread it. Keep your eyes and ears open for news stories.  Think like a reporter.  Interview folks in your community to get a story—maybe you’ll be the first to talk about a new development or a new law.  Use Google Alerts and Tweetbeeps.

Blogging Tip courtesy of the HomeGain Blog Professor, Joseph Ferrara. To read the full newsletter article, “10 Ways To Be Interesting: Lesson 57″, and receive the weekly real estate blogging newsletters, sign up for AgentView and the HomeGain Blogging School.


Posted by: Joseph Ferrara on August 7th, 2009 under Blogging Tips


Blogging Tip: Finding Your Voice


Of all the ingredients in the blogging success formula, the one that can’t be taught is Personality.

So, instead, I offer these 4 tips to help inspire you to be yourself.

1. Play to Your Strengths

Real estate is a complex business.  It involves both the left and right sides of the brain, if you will.  Yes, there are facts and figures, credit scores and financing options but there is also lifestyle, neighborhood amenities, client feelings, and a host of other intangibles.  I have heard finding a home compared to finding a mate.  Yes, there are the physical characteristics but also those hard to define “feely” qualities.  The real estate agent is the matchmaker, trying to blend all the elements together.  But each of you is better at certain aspects.

Are you more comfortable and confident analyzing statistics and financing to find the best deal in town?  Or do your strengths lean more toward quality of life and neighborhood amenities to find the perfect match for a first time buyer?  Do you enjoy marketing, staging?  Write about the topics that show your strengths… and your passion.  Find your talent and you will find your voice.

2. Reveal Yourself

If you have hobbies or interests (even pets), share them with your readers from time to time.  Perhaps you volunteer for an organization, at your church or synagogue, or are involved in community events.  Write about your experiences.  If you can (and maybe you can’t) relate them to real estate.  The point is to open up to your readers so they get a sense of the “unprofessional” you – Gee that doesn’t sound right, but you know what I mean.  You will be surprised to find that others share your hobbies, interests, volunteerism….and pets.  Continue reading this post


Posted by: Joseph Ferrara on July 3rd, 2009 under Blogging Tips


19 Secret Google Search Tricks

Here are some Google Search secrets to help you better find what you’re looking for: (wait, since I’m telling you, they’re no longer secret).

rabbit-hat1. Use quotation marks to search for the exact phraseco-op board rejection

2. Use the pipe (|) (it’s above the backslash \) for an either/or search (or use the word “or”): fsbo|by owner.

3. Use two periods (..) to find information within a number range, including years: worst housing markets 1980..2006.

4. Use a minus sign (-) to exclude search results: worst housing markets 1980..2006 -best. (since the search without the minus sign usually includes best and worst, use the minus sign if you only want the bad news)

5. Find similar keywords with the tilde (~): ~cheap homes. You get auctions, foreclosures, investors, etc. The tilde is an under-appreciated stroke (which makes it good for passwords)

6. Use the wildcard star (*) if you don’t know the missing word: a man’s home is his *.

7. Get a definitions by typing “define:” before the word: define:foreclosure.

8. Math calculations (hey Realtors, it’s good for figuring a commission): 548,000 x6%.

9. To search a term in a particular blog or website use “site:” before the URL. Useful if a website or blog doesn’t have a search box: zillow.

10. Type in the area code or zip code to find out the city name: 646. Continue reading this post


Posted by: Joseph Ferrara on June 25th, 2009 under Online Marketing


Twitter Marketing Tips: The AKS Method

Twitter is all the rage in social media.  But how can you get business from Twitter when you’re restricted to 140 characters?   Simple.   Use my AKS (Anyone Know Search) Method. 

Here’s how it works:

Go to and type this in the search box: anyone know a realtor in [fill in your city or town]

Here’s an example: 

Check the results.  If you’re lucky, you’ll find a real estate need (the word lead has been taken to the place where they keep bad words, like “used car”).

Now, send a tweet reply to this person and offer your help.  Since you are fellow Twitterers, you share something in common, making it more likely the person will talk to you.   Try it. (And send me my 25% referral fee in small bills.)

But there’s more to the AKS strategy. Continue reading this post


Posted by: Joseph Ferrara on May 6th, 2009 under Twitter


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