Customer Service? — Where has it gone?

Do you ever order something and sign into ‘chat.’  With the canned responses that do not always match up to your question do you wonder, “Is this a AI or someone with English as a second language?”  #service

Once upon a time FEDEX met guaranteed.  Today it means, ‘maybe so.’  Pay $30.00 and ‘maybe’ it will get there tomorrow.  The driver can always say they were here and no one was home because they didn’t ring the bell and I was home.  Or they could say my address is wrong.  Even though they’ve delivered many times before.  Is this reliable service? th.jpg

Perhaps not, but they have built a name for themselves and a little poor service or non-delivery isn’t going to hurt their overall bottomline. 

#Culpeper,  #living

When I asked if the Shipper would be given a discount for FEDEX failure to deliver on time I was ignored.  Even though I sat and waited for a package that didn’t come FEDEX never offered my sender a rebate or discount of any kind.  ‘I’m sorry,’ is all either of us received.   

The Pest Control People are delayed coming out because they have an issue with employees.  They assure me they are ‘fully staffed’ if the employees all show up on time, everyday.  With Low Unemployment there is an unforeseen issue few speak about…. bad customer service.  When we have so few workers… Employers higher what they can afford, those people are not always the best qualified or reliable.  We must be patient and understanding.

What does that mean for Real Estate?  Good news… people in real estate still need hours of training prior to taking an exam to become an Agent.  If they put in the time, effort and money required most truly want to do a good job.  The problem is they may not be clear what that job entails.  Further to complicate the issue is the why business is run.  Realtors are basically, ‘self-employed.’  Because they work under a Broker they are Intrapreneurs not Entrepreneurs.  They can be guided, encouraged but in the end they march to their own beat.  If that beat is continually away from the Company plan the Broker will ask them to move on and send their license in.  There will be another firm for them to work at tomorrow. 

We work on a curve.  It takes years of experience in most licensed positions to real get good at what you do.  Today, many ‘Agents’ may not be well rounded because they work in a ‘team.’  The Team Supervisor places them where they think they are best suited.  (ie:  buyer agent, closing coordinator, call center, etc.)  Real Estate is no different from other service oriented businesses.  If they are a new agent they have Enthusiasm working in their favor.  Ask them if they have a mentor or are they teamed up with an experienced agent who works along side of them. 

It makes a difference when there are issues.  That’s always when a Realtor shines.  What do they know?  Who do they know?  That can help you buy or sell a property.  An experienced Agent can help you move mountains to get the job done!  That’s why reviews and recommendations are the life blood of a Realtor!  We are only as good as our last deal.  ‘A few years ago I had buyers in Stafford, VA.  The home they wanted to purchase had an issue with mold.  I asked,’is this the home you want?’  ‘Yes!’ they assured me.  Ok, we got the home, they were disappointed because they did not get to chose who remediated the mold or how it was done.’  We must remember when purchasing a home it doesn’t belong to you until the paperwork is complete.  Up until that time it is maintained by someone else as that person sees fit!  It is not in the control of a Realtor or of you as the Buyer.

Sometimes a deal doesn’t go smoothly but it works out well for both parties, that’s a win for a Realtor.  22 Homeowner Association Violations and the home still sold ‘as is!’  The Seller had to give up some money and the Buyer had to agree to deal with the problems, but both ultimately got what they wanted.  So, the Seller is sore they walked away with less, it was still more than it would have been had they corrected all the violations!  Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish when dealing in real estate.  Don’t be the Seller that says, ‘I could make that repair myself,’ and not make the repair!  If you want the best price, provide a good produce!  Repairs lower that market value of a home.  This Seller never acknowledged the 22 HOA Violations, so in their mind the realtor didn’t do a good job.  How would it have worked had that Seller not had an Agent as the go-between in the same transaction?  9 out of 10 times that Seller would have had to correct all 22 violations in order to sell the townhome at the price they got on this transaction.  Why?  Because HOA Violations do not necessarily have a bearing on Market Price.  But a home in an HOA must comply with the codes of the Association in order to be sold.  An HOA can prevent a sale from happening based on the violations.  Note: had the owner taken care of the home there would not be any costly violations to correct before being allowed to sell their property.  When you buy in an HOA you agree to comply with the rules and regulations of that Association. 

th-1 . When you believe all photos online are a true picture of a home — think again!  Photos are met to show a property in ‘the best light.’  Not always the same as accuracy.

Do you need a Realtor when purchasing New Construction?  Hmm.  Do you?  Can you negotiate sufficient outlets in each room without a huge up-charge?  How about a finished basement?  Or are you sticking to the base price?  If so, will you get out of the home the amount you put into it in 5 to 7 years without upgrading?  An experienced Realtor can guide you through what is and what isn’t worth upgrading.  They are experienced in negotiating on your behalf.  Many have relationships with builders they work with on a regular bases.  #newconstruction, #Realtor, #Broker

We work on commission… each job is a new experience.  Most people work on Salary.  No matter how well you perform when you’re on salary you are paid.  On commission you may work very hard and should be compensated for your efforts.  If you do not work when on commission, there is no pay.  It is a service most people do not want to do or do not have the experience to do.


Seller Tips

You’re Ready to Make a Move!

Where do you begin?

Open Kitchen
eat & socialize here

Look around your home.  Think about what made you move there to begin with.  Was it the yard, the kitchen, space in the garage?

Great! You’re there!  Look at your motivating corner now.  Is it cluttered?  Do you need to rent a Storage Unit to begin the process storing personal items before you list the property?  Less is more when selling property.  Storing helps you with your resolve to make that move because you’ll already be boxed and wrapped and ready to go!

What can you ‘live’ without for the time it takes to sell your house?  Anything not used weekly or daily is a great place to start.  Can you simplify your closet to just 5 – 7 outfits for a while?  Do you ‘over stock’ supplies like toilettes, pots & pans, extra dishes?  They can all go to storage to make your place seem larger, clean and neat.

When was the last time the walls had a fresh coat of paint?  This may be the time to paint them light and airy.  Deep clean carpets.  Does the wood floor need a new coating or just a buff?  Have you resealed the grout lately?

NAR repeatedly says year after year ‘curb appeal matters!’  Walk out to the road and really look at the yard, and home front.  What could make it more appealing?  Does the front door and shutters need a fresh coat of paint?  If so, use something with shine rather than matte.  You want the front to stand out!  Does the front or sidewalk need a pressure washing?  This is a great time to get it done!  Do the shrubs need pruned or replaced?  Does the grass need mowed?  Would flower in pots or boxes, or along the sidewalk make it more charming?  When was the last time you mulched the beds?  Fresh mulch is an appeal to the senses!

Some Realtors offer ‘Staging Advice.’  Others recommend a professional ‘Stager’ to come to your home as part of the listing.  Often you get what you pay for.  In todays market you may pay a lower commission, but pay extra for services.  Consider what is best for you.   Based on your situation how quickly do you want your property sold?  Are you prepared to ask for the highest price in the market while doing the least amount of work and paying the least amount of commission?  Great! Expect to sit on the market a while.

If you want it sold fast… put aside your ideas that you have the best home on the street, listen to an experienced Realtor when you ask for advise.  Be willing to pay a little more to get your property sold quickly.  A little effort will go a long way!














A Home for the Season?

Did you hear… the Fed’s raised rates just before the end of 2018.  Talk is they would have liked to raise them more than the quarter of a point, but the economy doesn’t warrant a huge rate hike.  The more positive talk in politics the better the country rumbles along.  The more political back and forth… which leads to indecisiveness or not decisions at all the worse it is for Real Estate.

So, what am I saying?  Even though we are in rough waters with fewer homes on the market over all the prices are up!  Good news for Sellers.  Not so good for buyers.  New home sales are always going to be higher than the price of an existing home.  Additionally, more and more people want ‘new’ vs ‘existing.’

Of course some will always say, “I would rather buy and existing home.  No unknown settlement issues that way.”  “I can make it my own, it won’t be a cookie cutter inside.”  “I want to ‘update’ a home to make it my own.”  “All the appliances and Heating System is new, and it’s less expensive than building one.”  I have come to believe its a personal preference.

Just when is the Best Time to List?  My answer is: ‘When you’re ready to let go that’s when its time to sell.’  Homes sell twelve months of the year.  Prices are typically higher in the Spring and drop a bit by October.  But not everyone wants to sell in spring and summer.  Are you buying land?  You may prefer to walk the land in the fall when there are no leaves to ‘see through the trees.’  When the foliage is in full bloom you may not be able to see the ‘lay of the land.’  Are you buying a multi-unit property?  In that case it may be discounted in summer if its near a college or university.  The purpose of using a Realtor for your real estate transaction is the value of knowledge and experience.  Do you cast your own leg when you break it?  No.  You go to a doctor for their knowledge and experience.  This is why real estate is regional.  United Real Estate Exponent is a Franchise Office in Culpeper, Virginia; of United Real Estate, a subsidiary of United Country Real Estate.  Boom!  Now, my office just became a National and International Company via those affiliation!  An small office of a bigger company provides National and International Exposure to every property I list!  If you list with an independent boutique shop you will not receive that broader exposure.  Ask about a brand, do they have a regional presence, a statewide presence? Or National presence?  Keep in mind, Zillow, Redfin, etc., to do not list every home available for sale, they simply list most of them.  Listing with a regional office of a National or International Company provides you with a larger resource to draw on.  If you live in a subdivision that’s an HOA of average homes near a great school it may not matter what Real Estate Company you go with.  As long as they have a good reputation.  But if you have the largest home in the subdivision or a unique home or lots of land… then a broader presence may become important.

Seek an agent with a clear marketing plan for your property.

The best agent and the best company are not necessarily the most popular names in town.  Its the one that gets your property sold in a timely fashion for a price acceptable to you! Keep that in mind when interviewing agents down  the road.  Some advertise that if the home doesn’t sell in a certain time frame they will buy it from you… be sure to read the fine print about what that purchase price from them may be.  It is not usually the list price.

Do you need a property manager?

Perhaps you were not aware that Real Estate is a Local Transaction.  Different States have different laws and rules.  In some cases, such as codes, those codes are by County or Cities.

Do you realize a Licensed Realtor has to take classes before taking a State Exam?  And then those Realtors are required to take additional credit courses over the next 2 years to renew their license.  This doesn’t mean they know everything about real estate, it means they have committed to learn about real estate.

There are many aspects of Real Estate, and most Licensed Realtors choose to pursue one of those fields, the most well known to the public is the Residential Realtor.  But are you aware that Property Management is a specialized field?  As is the Commercial Realtor or a Business Broker, or to become a Real Estate Auctioneer.

Property Managers deal with tenants that do not pay, that have changed their mind about completing their contract.  A Property Manager has to deal with Landlords that do not always want to make timely repairs or live up to their end of a contract.  A property manager has the daily struggle of finding a happy medium for both the landlord and tenant.  Or playing the role of ‘bad guy’ when one or the other is way out of line.

A Lease Agreement spells out how a landlord and tenant can share the responsibility of a home.  A Property Manager is paid to be the middle man to see that contract is followed through.


Realtors – Do you plan to succeed?

When was the last time you met with your Broker or attended an office Business Planning Session?

At United Real Estate we offer a National Business Planning Webinar with the Companies CEO annually!
We care about the success of every agent in the company!
Your success depends on your personal goals and dreams.   We help you get there by setting aside time and tools for all that truly care about the direction of their business.
After the National Webinar where our CEO, Dan Duffy speaks, each office continues the day with a business planning session for the agents.
The Broker of the office will offer to set appointments to meet one on one that afternoon or in the next few days.  And follow up over the course of the year with any agent that would appreciate such feedback and coaching.
How do you plan to reach your goals in 2019?
Are you in the Driver seat, or the backseat?
If you would like more information about United Real Estate please email: or call me: 540-317-5989 to schedule an appointment to see how we help you succeed to keep more commission in your pocket.

Are you Selling your home?

Stats still favor working with a Realtor to get the best price, and best security.  In today’s society we often forget that real estate is still generally a ‘Hand-on’ experience.  We may begin searching homes on the internet, but most of us want to actually walk-through a property to get the ‘feel’ for it before we commit to purchasing a home.

A For Sale By Owner takes all the risk involved in showing their own home, allowing people to take photos for family members, etc.  In going this route you are trusting the honesty of others.  Realtors have Errors and Omissions Insurance for many reasons, do you?  If not, have you taken all your valuables off-site?  Does your Homeowners Insurance cover theft of big ticket items like your TV & surround sound system?

When Selling a home it’s imperative to price the home well to begin with.  Many people expect to get dollar for dollar for all their improvements, and this is not always the case when it comes to selling.  I have walked away from listings over the years because the Seller was not reasonable in what the Market would bare for their home.  Over pricing your home doesn’t help you or the agent that accepts your listing.  These homes tend to sit to long on the market and buyers beglarge-keys-next-to-a-small-house-3d-image-isolated-white-background-.jpgin to ask what is wrong with the home.  Is this where you want to be?

Are you willing to pay for a professional photographer to take Excellent photos of your home?  If not, will you be happy with the photos the Realtor is able to take for you?  Do you want control and provide your own photos?  If so, please realize you should put the photos on a flash drive for the agent rather than emailing them so that the agent may be able to re-size them as needed for various advertising avenues.  A Realtor is experienced in what angle a particular room needs to get a good photo that will work in advertising, most people are not.

Trust your agent to provide pointers on staging your home, or recommending a professional stager to help you organize to get the optimal response.  Sometimes making a few changes in placement can make a world of difference to a buyer’s eye.   Your Agent is a professional, however, there is a huge difference in experience of agents.  With experience comes knowledge, not all agents are equal.  Years as an agent does not always equate to experience with listings.  It’s important to ask it they have experience listing homes as well as selling homes.  If they do not have experience do they have a mentor to provide insight?  Are you able to speak to that mentor? I use to bring my mentor along to the Listing Appointment, or make a second trip with them in order to get their feedback.

A good agent goes beyond taking the listing and putting it in the MLS.  What is their marketing plan for your home?  How often to do they provide market updates for you?  Do they offer stats on how many days on the market is average for your neighborhood?  Do they have a track record of moving their listings with in that time frame or better?  Do they have a network marketing program for affiliates in the area?  comic-house-keys-real-estate-woman-gift-buy-retro-style-pop-art.jpg

Most people believe their home is worth more than it is.  A good Realtor will bring comparables in your area to help you come up with a good price for your home.  Keep in mind, you should work with your Realtor to come up with a Market Price for your home.  I provide a Seller Sheet with 2-3 prices to work with the Seller so they know up front what they should expect from the sale of their home.  If the Market Price is substantially less than you expected to list your home for ask if they have some ideas to improve the price or alternatives to the conventional sale.  Kitchens and baths may help sell a home, but so does curb appeal, do you have funds to make improvements?  If there are not affordable options to increase the sales price and you are unwilling to come down there are still alternatives.  United Real Estate is affiliated with United Country Real Estate, one of the Countries largest real estate Auction Companies.  As such, we offer an auction option to our listings that can assist with a Seller’s Bottom line!  If you’re interested in more details contact us directly at


1st Time Homebuyer In VA

1st time homebuyer guide 2017

home&keys  Do you have questions about buying a home?  Think you don’t need a Realtor, and want to do it on your own?

Be aware… Virginia is a Buyer Beware State!  Developers and Home Builders hope you don’t use an agent!

When searching for an Agent look for one with designations.  These are people who go above the minimum licensing requirements to do the best for their clients.  They’re in the business for the long haul because they care and want to help others.

I hope you find my 1st time homebuyer’s e-book helpful in your endeavors.  Best of luck.

— T.C.

1st Time Homebuyer In VA

1st time homebuyer guide 2017

home&keys  Do you have questions about buying a home?  Think you don’t need a Realtor, and want to do it on your own?

Be aware… Virginia is a Buyer Beware State!  Developers and Home Builders hope you don’t use an agent!

When searching for an Agent look for one with designations.  These are people who go above the minimum licensing requirements to do the best for their clients.  They’re in the business for the long haul because they care and want to help others.

I hope you find my 1st time homebuyer’s e-book helpful in your endeavors.  Best of luck.

— T.C.

Have you heard? Realtors take heart!

The U.S Department of Labor (DOL) has finalized its long-awaited Association Health Plan (AHP) rule to expand the definition of “employer” to include “working owners.” This change allows real estate professionals and other self-employed individuals to participate in association health plans. A key provision, forwarded for inclusion in the rule by NAR, will allow many REALTORS® who have access to coverage through a spouse to be eligible to choose an AHP option. (key phrase left out here — affordable AHP)

Bottom Line
The ruling is a major step forward for NAR’s long-standing advocacy efforts to expand AHP eligibility to independent contractors. This ruling allows NAR to keep up its ongoing program to evaluate potential options for expanding REALTORS® options for access to health insurance coverage. It does not mean that a REALTOR® AHP will be available in the near term, but action continues to explore such options.


Although this is a step in the right direction, it seems to be one of feet dragging on a phenomenal level!  What a way to squeeze people out of their independence!  I see small businesses close, hear of people taking jobs because, “We couldn’t afford the monthly insurance cost.”  Say it ain’t so!

But I can not say it isn’t so!  Small business may have been the backbone in the past, but health insurance with an aging population of hard workers is certainly going to dramatically change the playing field of tomorrow.