Colors for Real Estate Marketing

I would like to think that colors are what make the world fun. It is the essence of life and gives substance to a picture. Without it the scenery can be quite dull and lifeless. The same applies when marketing real estate.

Colors can give your service an identity. They can project a specific character or an aura that gives people an idea about your service or company.

We are all admirers of colors. You’ll have to think twice if you want to establish your brand when marketing real estate. This can be a game setter when marketing homes.

The most important to remember when thinking about colors is that everyone likes blue. If you can’t decide what to use, start with blue. Blue is also the most used color for corporate branding because it represents authority.

A good color combination for Blue is Orange. While Dark Orange can mean dull, the light (pumpkin) color can mean trendy. The websites Homes and ActiveRain should give you an idea of how Orange can blend well with Blue.

Another real estate color favorite is Green. The most common meaning for this color is nature and peace. You can take a look at Zillow and Trulia’s logo if you want to see how a touch of Green can complement your brand.

So far I have discussed colors from listing websites but what about Realtors? If you’re interested how realtors’ brand their services, read below and enjoy.

While DukeRealty favors Black and Green, KellerWilliams and ReMax seems to favor Red. This color (Red) is most commonly associated with love. It can also mean excitement and goes well with White and / or Black.

Have you noticed that Keller Williams was using White to blend with Red? In case you’re wondering, the color White usually means purity and balance.

If we look at Pulte Homes’ logo we would notice the color Gray to complement their Blue text. Gray is an alternative of Silver that signifies a helping hand. It can also mean prosperity which is a good idea for a home.

Yellow is considered to represent brightness and optimism. It’s not a real estate favorite but it does grab people’s attention. You might consider Yellow if you want people to turn their heads and take a look at your real estate brand.

Still can’t decide which colors to use? How about checking Colliers International’s logo to see how they made, Blue, White, Yellow, and Red work.

Have Bad Credit? How to Use FHA 203k to Purchase Distressed Real Estate

A hot topic here in Miami is distressed real estate. With all of the foreclosures and REO (real estate owned) properties on the market for sale, there are good deals to be had. The FHA 203k loan, sometimes called energy efficient mortgage or EEM for short, is a program that is available to help you purchase a distressed property and rehabilitate with energy-efficient “green” improvements.

It’s no secret that many of the foreclosures or REO properties have deferred maintenance. So it’s possible the electrical system does not work as it should, the hot water heater could leak, the air conditioner may need to be serviced or replaced with an energy efficient unit. Maybe the paint is dull and needs to be freshened up. All of these updates or repairs (and many more!) can be added into the cost of your mortgage, making your home more energy efficient and helping you to reduce your carbon footprint. Although there are tight lending guidelines that banks and lenders are required to follow, luckily enough there are still funds available to lend and bring these distressed properties back up to modern living standards with the FHA 203k loan. Even if you have less than perfect credit, FHA is on your side to help make your home ownership dream come true!

FHA loans are flexible when it comes to bad credit. If you have premature credit, FHA can approve a loan based on a single trade line and a single credit score, whereas conventional lending requires no less than two of the three credit scores. FHA is also great for first time home buyers who may have limited funds in the bank. The FHA 203k program allows buyers to put as little as 3.5 percent as a down payment (even though it’s a good idea to put down more). Another bonus of FHA is that you may still qualify whether or not you can demonstrate consistent work history over the previous two consecutive years. FHA loans are really forgiving.

Even prospective borrowers with more seriously damaged credit still have hope. Those with judgments, liens, collections, foreclosures or bankruptcies, who are interested in taking advantage of the distressed real estate market may still reach home ownership dreams. Here are some guidelines to follow:

–Collections – Not all collection accounts will be required to be paid prior to closing. Each collection trade line will be reviewed on a case-by-case base. If the collection still shows on your credit report, satisfaction might be requested in order to remove the negative trade lines prior to closing.

–Bankruptcy – Chapter 7 discharge of bankruptcy should be two of more years from loan application and show reestablished credit on all recent trade lines. Chapter 13 must show at least 1 year of payments to the courts after the restructure. No late payments are allowed since the bankruptcy started.

–Foreclosure – Foreclosures will not disqualify you from obtaining a FHA loan. However, buyers must typically wait a minimum of three years from the foreclosure date prior to purchasing (possibly less if you have extenuating circumstances and have established good credit).

–Liens – Federal liens are not eligible, such as a tax lien. Liens must be paid off or at minimum, a repayment plan must be established. Federal loans, such as student loans cannot be delinquent and must be brought current prior to application.

So, if you have been daydreaming about taking advantage of a good deal in the Miami real estate market, chances are that you might be in a better position than you think. You don’t need to be a bench warmer. You can play too!

LEED Advantage – Should Real Estate Agents Pursue a LEED AP Certification?

So, I wanted to learn and understand more about green buildings and all that it means. One solution I was researching led me to join the non-profit US Green Building Council (usgbc.org). This is the organization that wrote and owns the ‘LEED’ green building certifications.

LEED is a USGBC building certification system that is recognized internationally. It provide third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies that improve performance. LEED also provides building owners and those who operate buildings a way to identify and implement solutions in the building design and construction process.

So, I went to a local chapter meeting in Phoenix Arizona and found out it was free for individuals to join locally, and companies join at the national level for a fee. Everyone was very helpful, and all were volunteers with regular jobs. So, feeling quite comfortable as an real estate agent, I joined and chose to volunteer with the Education Committee. Soon I had learned enough to help at tradeshows with the USGBC booth, and it turned out to be fun and very enjoyable.

But back to the LEED AP designation (Accredited Professional). I purchased a thick textbook for about $200 that had chapters and chapters of information to help me pass the big certification exam. Available courses were available, but I want to study on my own. It was college all over again for me with memorization. Some of the terms and concepts were not very familiar and required more online research (i.e. ASHRAE, VOC, etc.). You see, my college degree was in Accounting and my MBA in Finance. I was actually doing well for awhile in the memorization department. I was starting to make sense. Speakers at monthly meetings were kind to ‘dumb down’ their presentations to those in the audience like me. Thank goodness!

There were only a handful of LEED AP professionals in the local Chapter. I decided it would be a differentiating item if I were LEED AP certified. I kept on the slow study program, and am still on it to this day. Since the concept of a ‘green building’ is becoming more popular, it is also more complex. But, the idea to understand and be part of a growing megatrend is still of great interest. I am continuing my studies on the side. The USGBC has introduced a lower level ‘Green Associate’ for those more interested in the basic concepts. That is where I am now going.

Come join in the fun. Let’s do it together!

St Lucia Real Estate Tips: 5 Ways for Green Living on the Caribbean Island

St Lucia’s rich biodiversity and natural beauty play a significant role in the island’s culture and economy. The island’s 2 major industries, tourism and agriculture, both depend on sustainable environmental practices. In 2004 the Pitons were inducted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to their outstanding beauty and unique ecology. Environmental awareness is therefore a crucial part of life in St Lucia. Every human interaction with nature leaves behind an indelible fingerprint. When building a home in St Lucia you should be vigilant to minimize the impact on the environment. Here are 5 easy ways in which you can do so.

Do not clear land indiscriminately. Before starting construction, consider how your home will impact the tree cover in the area. St Lucia is a heavily vegetated country. The prevalence and variety of trees is one of the things which makes the island unique. Save as many mature trees as possible. Incorporate existing foliage into the design and layout of your house. This ensures that the island remains green. Mature trees also add majesty and beauty, while keeping a property cool.

Use renewable energy. Sunlight and wind are two of St Lucia’s most abundant natural resources. It is now possible to have one’s home completely powered by solar panels and wind turbines. Whether you use wind, solar or a combination of the two depends on the location of your home. For instance, home sites on the island’s east coast have a constant Atlantic breeze, and are well placed to utilize wind power. While solar or wind power will increase your construction costs, it will eliminate utility bills in the future. In St Lucia, electricity is the most costly utility and the savings will add up in the long run. Renewable energy also reduces the burning of fossil fuel and helps to keep the air clean while reducing the island’s carbon footprint.

Harvest rain water. St Lucia has approximately 2000 mm of annual rainfall. Using drainage systems, it is easy to collect rainwater, which is stored in tanks or underground cisterns. This helps conserve the island’s public water supply. It also ensures that you have a backup if there are shortages after a hurricane.

Maximize natural ventilation to minimize cooling costs. In St Lucia, air conditioning units are major culprits when it comes to high energy usage. Keeping your house naturally cool will significantly reduce your consumption of electricity. High ceilings, large windows, insulated roofs and cross ventilation are just a few ways in which your house can be designed to remain cool. Many homes in St Lucia are located on elevated hillsides where there is a constant breeze. A well ventilated house can eliminate (or at least greatly reduce) the need for air conditioning. (Besides the practical benefits, high ceilings and large windows are great for admiring those amazing St Lucian vistas!)

Grow a kitchen garden. Gardens flourish in St Lucia’s rich, volcanic soil and tropical weather. It is common for backyards to be laden with tropical foods such as mangoes, guavas, dasheen or breadfruit. Eat your own organic, delicious fruit, vegetables and herbs grown right in your back yard! Once you’ve gotten your garden started it’s easy to maintain. The prevalence of backyard gardening helps ensure the island’s food security and preserves the indigenous foliage. The rewards are delicious and good for both you and the environment!

These are just a handful of ways to live a nature friendly lifestyle if you have decided to buy St Lucia real estate. The island is loved for its lush, green beauty. Everyone in the country must play their part to maintain this. Cautious real estate development can enhance rather than diminish the island’s natural environment. Energy efficiency is also a great investment as it will make your home more appealing to buyers should you ever decide to sell.

The UK’s Green Real Estate

With worries about climate change on the rise, eco-friendly homes are becoming increasingly popular in the UK. The demand for environmentally sound housing is leading constructors to source innovative alternatives to traditional building materials, including straw and even grass!

Eco building consultants ‘Home grown Home’ have designed and built a cabin using bales of straw. Located in East Yorkshire, the Straw Bale cabin has been constructed using 96 full and 46 half bales of wheat straw sourced from local farms. The bales themselves bear the weight of the roof, removing the need for a timber frame. Aside from straw, other renewable materials used include sheep’s’ wool as wall insulation and paints and oils made from plant extracts. A range of recycled materials have also been put to good use including an old barn door for beams in the lounge, reclaimed railway sleepers and even pipes from the old milking parlor.

Cliveden Village in Taplow, Buckinghamshire is a development of properties built on a prestigious National Trust estate. All 134 houses and apartments have been designed to protect the environment and maintain high ecological standards. All properties have been built from rated materials such as FSC sourced timber and recycled materials from the original brown field site. Inside the homes, the use of PVC has been voided by choosing low volatile organic chemical fittings and finishes. Other eco-friendly features include solar hot water and mechanical heat recovery systems, as well as energy efficient lighting and insulation. Water use across the estate is reduced through the use of rainwater collection and low volume fittings on taps and toilets.

Dunescape is a three floor eco-property in Camber Sands, Rye. Built in 007, the environmentally-conscious house is let to visitors as a contemporary holiday home. A grass roof soaks up rainwater and solar power provides hot water in the summer. Geothermal heat from the ground insulates the house in the winter months, ensuring guests keep warm after bracing walks on the nearby beach. Finishing touches in the property include tables made from reclaimed timber, phosphate-free natural washing up liquid, vegan toiletries and organic cotton towels.

BedZED is a carbon neutral community in Sutton, South London. Completed in 2002, the housing development comprises a total of 99 homes each specifically designed to support a sustainable lifestyle. An innovative joint venture between the Peabody Trust and environmental charity arranging, the project has won a raft of awards for its cutting edge design and impressive environmental performance. Recent figures show that BedZED residents use an average of 81% less energy on heating and 8% less water than the local average.

Ecostessey Park is a development of 22 town houses on the banks of the river Tud in Norwich. Each property is built to a demanding ecological specification and is zero carbon rated. A number of environmentally-friendly features are included as standard in each home, such as photovoltaic solar panels which allow residents to sell energy back to the National Grid. Other energy efficient features include low energy lighting and a thermostatic bath to control water temperatures.