It’s exciting to mark a year since ListedBy.com launched. Like every startup with a big idea and certain resources to work with, we’ve had our ups and down and at the end of the day, made great headway.
We want to take the opportunity to thank all our community members, users and website visitors for their support and energy, our business partners for their confidence, and every member of our staff for painstakingly taking on more than they imagined they ever would under a single job title, and our leadership for their vision, perseverance and drive along the way, no matter what.
Property Portal Watch sums up ListedBy’s evolution quite nicely in an article published earlier today.
Thanks once again to all our friends and supporters. Onwards and upwards.
ListedBy Turns One
Property Portal Watch
By Gordana Davila on 3 May, 2013
in Company News
Spawned by Bay Area bulk REO specialist Stephan Piscano, who became frustrated with his own experience with the online real estate auction process, California’s ListedBy, the free online marketplace and social network with live bidding auction has turned one.
ListedBy made its debut last year, as a free online live auction, social network and services marketplace. The company saw a void in the market and felt it was time to launch a transparent online auction and property search arena where industry professionals, consumers, investors and service providers would be able to network, research, list and purchase real estate assets.
ListedBy managed to successfully merge the simplicity and effectiveness of a classifieds advertising website, with state-of-the-art live auction technology, to help accelerate sales and maximize asset value.
The company’s goal was to lift the secrecy off the real estate auction process, and to encourage wider participation from both buyers and sellers. ListedBy also aimed at eliminating typically restrictive costs including auction registration fees and share of proceeds, usually imposed on traditional auction venue, by having its marketplace be entirely free.
Stephan Piscano, ListedBy founder and chief executive officer, said that the company considers real estate professionals and service providers as critical success partners. Piscano gave as an example: “A listing agent on ListedBy is never overshadowed by another agent on his or her listing page, and leads are never collected and sold back to the listing broker or their competitors. We are working to build a thriving, positive community that benefits all our members.”
A short stroll down memory lane:
Soon after its launch, ListedBy announced the appointment of Roger Noujeim as Vice President of Marketing, to lead the company’s global marketing and branding strategy.
In June the company began publishing agent listings on their profile pages on ListedBy Social, the site’s networking system for real estate agents, service providers and consumers. In addition to the site’s property search area, the move strategically places agent listings in front of consumers researching local REALTORS® on ListedBy.com.
In July, ListedBy announced a co-marketing agreement with National Real Estate Business Insurance Group that will give to ListedBy.com members timely, convenient access to NREBIG’s deep national expertise and products.
A new online advertising campaign was launched by October, ‘Buy & Sell Real Estate With a Click,’ aiming to maintain ListedBy top of mind with recent visitors, and focusses on communicating the brand’s primary benefit of accelerating real estate buying and selling.
In December, ListedBy released ListedBy – Real Estate Auction Primer for Consumers, a ‘must-know’ guide for anyone looking to buy or sell real estate through auction.
Followed by the rollout of a self-managed search database which enables ListedBy users access to information on local real estate related services, and for service providers, free exposure and leads.
This past March ListedBy announced that, now its members are albe to publish and share feedback, recommendations and rate service providers listed on ListedBy.com, in real time.
One year later:
Now as a way of celebrating with all their users, ListedBy has sent out a message stating: “To thank you and celebrate all users today can get a FREE featured listing on the site by using promo code “ListedBy37″ upon adding your listing RIGHT NOW!”
Also, there is a special bidding for a an all expenses paid trip to stay in the ListedBy luxury condo in Las Vegas. The company stated: “We are doing this asa promotion to than our userbase and give you an opportunity to get exposure for your brand as a real estate pro!”
We’re bringing this charitable opportunity to the attention of our members and friends on ListedBy.com at a time when many families may unfortunately not be able to enjoy a normal Christmas this year.
Santa Dan and Merry (Mary) Gromer absolutely love all things Christmas. The lights, the decorations, the music, eggnog, the smell of Christmas trees and pine cones crackling in the fireplace. It has always been a special time for them.
In 2006 just a week before Christmas, a 10-year old boy with his head down showing lots of sadness in his life, sat in Santa’s lap at a local store. He was seriously distraught and told Santa he was having a tough time. “I don’t know what to do, Santa. My mom and dad just separated and my mom moved me to a new place in the middle of the night and left my Dad at our house. My mom said I have to go to a new school, I don’t know anyone, I’m scared and I’m sad. I won’t ever be happy anymore. My mom won’t let my dad know where we live. All I want for Christmas is some happiness and my mom and dad to be back together. Santa, can you tell me what to do?” This little boy shared his heart and all he wanted was to know that Santa was listening and loved him. After Santa said a few words to the little boy, a few moments later, the boy was jumping and smiling and excited about life and Christmas again. The outcome of this made Santa very happy!
This year marks Dan and Mary’s 8th Annual Christmas Toy and Food Drive for needy kids and families. When you book Santa you help the kids out. When you drop food or toys at a donation barrel they go to children and families that need a helping hand.
When you donate through Christmastyme.com by credit card, your donation is a tax deductible donation to our non-profit “Destiny City Help”. If you choose, you can also call to donate by phone.
Your food donations help stock the local food bank that will help people and families throughout the year.
“We never know who will knock on our door and what they are going through,” say Mr. and Mrs. Santa on their site. “Thank you in advance for helping!”
Please consider donating at www.Christmastyme.com
Americans are on the move. The United States Census Bureau estimates that 12.5 percent of Americans – nearly 40 million people – changed residences each of the past two years. While many turned to moving professionals for assistance, some learned the hard way that not all moving companies are created equally. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) received nearly 3,000 complaints about moving companies last year alone – a double-digit increase from the prior year.
Some good news arrived in October in the form of a new law that provides additional protection for victims of “rogue” moving companies that hold belongings hostage in the interest of scamming consumers to pay unexpected fees. The new law gives FMCSA the authority to force the return of consumer belongings in addition to the ability to levy fines of up to $10,000 per day.
Unfortunately, our industry has been plagued by moving ‘companies’ that advertise unbelievable ‘deals’ that turn out to be consumer scams,” says Jon Sorber, executive vice president of Two Men And A Truck, the nation’s largest franchise moving company. The new regulations are a welcome change for those of us committed to operating legitimate moving companies, but they are just a start. Education is really the key to making sure consumers avoid the hassle of a moving scam in the first place.
Sorber suggests consumers ask the following questions before hiring a mover:
1. Can your family, friends and co-workers make a referral? It’s likely that you know several people who’ve hired a moving company in the past year. Why not tap the resources of people you trust to share their experiences?
2. Does your mover have a brick and mortar facility you can visit? Often the “rogue” mover operates from a storage unit or perhaps with no office at all. If you are dealing with a legitimate moving company, they will have an office with trucks, employees, boxes, supplies, etc.
3. Is your mover licensed in your state? The majority of states require a formal license to operate as a mover, and selecting a licensed, insured mover is your best bet in guaranteeing a hassle-free experience.
4. What community or industry associations does the moving company have? Is your mover in good standing with the Better Business Bureau? Are they active members of the local Chamber of Commerce? Choose a mover who is valued and trusted within your community and you’ll likely eliminate any concern of questionable practices.
5. Does your mover offer free moving quotes? A legitimate mover is going to provide free estimates of your move before a single item is moved. If they refuse to do so, keep shopping regardless of how good the deal sounds.
Paul Oakley is senior vice president for Government Affairs at the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), the moving industry’s largest trade association. He and his team began working with Congress in 2008 to develop the new regulatory provisions that go into effect this month. Like Sorber, he believes the new laws provide some measure of safety, but cautions that more work must be done to eliminate dishonest moving practices.
The laws going into effect in October directly impact policing of the industry, says Oakley, but ultimately we must have safeguards that make entry into the industry more difficult, tougher enforcement against bad actors, and a greater effort needs to be made to educate consumers on how to choose a proper moving company.
Two Men And A Truck offers more questions consumers should ask before hiring a mover at www.twomenandatruck.com/moving-questions. Consumers might also consider AMSA’s Before You Move checklist at www.moving.org.
First impressions are everything when it comes to selling a home, and peeling paint, stained carpets and unpleasant odors can be an instant turn-off for buyers. Fortunately, you can take simple and inexpensive steps to prep your home for a quick, top-dollar sale.
Paint is an easy, cost-effective way to improve any interior, and a new coat can make all the difference in selling your home. Cracked or peeling paint will repel potential buyers, and faded or boring walls can create a lackluster overall appearance.
Make your home stand out with a fresh coat in a vibrant color, such as those found in Dutch Boy’s Crayola palette. Perfect for showcasing a finished basement, kids’ room or accent wall anywhere in the home, these bright shades will make any space “pop.” With 96 colors to choose from – from Marshmallow and Ice Pop, to Wild Strawberry and Inch Worm – you’re sure to find a shade to help make your home memorable. And as you are updating walls with new color, use a paint that not only adds beauty but also reduces odors. Along with the exceptional coverage Dutch Boy is known for, Refresh features Arm & Hammer Odor Eliminating Technology to rid your home of unwanted odors, leaving your home smelling clean and inviting. Available for walls, trim and ceilings, use Refresh throughout the home to create a pleasant walk-through experience. Add a few scented candles or potpourri to make the home even more appealing to buyers’ noses.
The little things can make a big difference when it comes to the appearance of your home. Many buyers are looking to make as few improvements as possible, and even tiny cosmetic repairs can seem like a huge project. The more move-in-ready your house appears, the faster it will sell, and more likely buyers will be willing to pay the asking price. Some easy fixes include replacing broken counter and floor tiles, patching holes in any surfaces, making sure all lights work properly and doors open and close smoothly.
Organize and de-personalize:
To give your home a spacious showroom feel, take time to remove any superfluous “stuff.” Show off your kitchen countertops by storing unnecessary appliances, clear the sink and dishwashing machine, and organize refrigerator contents. Keep the bathroom vanity clear of personal items, neatly fold or hang clean towels, and clear or cover clothing hampers. Organize your cupboards, closets and drawers to maximize the appearance of your home’s storage capabilities.
Clearing your home of visible clutter will not only make it seem more spacious but also make it easier for potential buyers to picture it as their own. Minimize family photos and personal items to help visitors more easily see themselves – and their things – in your home.
First impressions can make a world of difference, so don’t neglect your home’s exterior as you prepare to sell. The mailbox should be in good condition and the house number easily visible from the street. Keep exterior doors, including garage doors, free of flaking or fading paint and freshen the trim around windows and shutters. A fresh coat of paint on the front door can add to your home’s curb appeal and affixing a seasonal display of flowers or a festive wreath on the front door also makes a warm, welcoming statement.
A few simple projects can vastly improve your home’s overall appearance, and with these tips, your home will be sold in no time.
Investors are snapping up real estate deals including rental properties with high cash on cash return that can reach 24 – 26 percent annually, time shares for dimes on the dollar, and solid parcels of land in great locations. Gold also seems to remain high on investor lists, including central banks. World Gold Council Analysts offer some explanations in this great piece posted on ARA.
“Since the onset of the recession when many investment portfolios took a hit, there has been a lot of talk about the value of investing in gold as one way for investors to protect against market volatility and preserve wealth. Now, as policy makers both here and in Europe take steps to stimulate economic growth, there is a group of investors quietly adding gold to their own portfolios: the world’s central banks.
As a legacy of the gold standard that backed many of the world’s currencies prior to 1972, Western central banks such as the United States of America, Italy, France and Germany, hold large quantities of gold. In contrast, many of today’s emerging economies including China, Russia, Mexico and India have until recently held little to none. While the 8,133 tonnes of gold held by the U.S. Government in Fort Knox (and other locations) no longer directly backs our currency, it has returned over 8 percent a year over the past 30 years for the long term wealth of the country.
For years, the Western central banks were net sellers of gold, to the tune of 400-500 tonnes per year, in large part because they saw the need to diversify away from gold. But that trend began to shift in the second half of 2009 as Western market central banks all but halted their gold sales while emerging market central banks increased the pace of adding gold to their monetary reserves. Globally, central banks bought 77 tonnes in 2010, and for all of 2011 bought an astonishing 456 tonnes of gold.
So what’s caused this change in how central banks view gold? Analysts from the World Gold Council (www.gold.org) offer the following explanations for why the central banks are buying gold:
* Central banks are trending away from investing primarily in the U.S. dollar and the Euro. The recession in the U.S. and the debt crisis in Europe have caused banks to take pause when investing in assets from these countries. While the U.S. dollar will form a large portion of overall reserves for years to come, gold is being added by central banks around the world to diversify their asset base.
* As countries including China, India, Mexico and Russia get wealthier, they are increasingly focused on storing that wealth. Many are finding that an allocation to gold of between 2 and 10 percent provides protection against risk in their overall portfolio.
* Gold is one of the few assets that central banks are allowed to buy. Other assets include U.S. Treasuries, Euro bonds, and Japanese Yen. Unlike bonds, gold is one of the few universally accepted assets that central banks can own that has no credit risk, meaning, gold does not represent an IOU from another country, company or person.
* Gold is considered a hedge against the U.S. dollar. This makes it an attractive tool for central banks to protect against any further declines in the value of the U.S. dollar.
“The trend that we are seeing where global central banks are increasing their gold holdings reinforces the critical importance gold plays in an investment context. Gold serves a function no other investment asset can: it preserves capital, diversifies portfolios, and is highly liquid. These principals hold true for central banks as well as individual investors,” says Ashish Bhatia, manager of government affairs at the World Gold Council.</p><p>According to the World Gold Council, central banks are on pace to purchase at least as much gold this year as they did in 2011. The increased investment in gold by these banks highlights gold’s role as an asset that provides diversification and wealth preservation during uncertain economic times.
The information provided is for educational purposes only. Consult your financial adviser before making any investment decisions.”
Quite interesting but not surprising stats and insight from Pew Research Centre and TD Bank in the article below, from ARA. It would seem like the current economy has ushered a new lifestyle option, and people, ‘the Sandwich Generation,’ are seizing the underlying opportunity. The silver lining if you like. While traditional financing for such moves offer great advantages to those who qualify, non traditional lenders and seller financing (OWC) are also becoming popular. OWC financing exponentially increases the likelihood of a deal, and many home or land owners are resorting to this strategy to move property. For example, this OWC condo listing allows buyers to strike a deal with the seller, with a single click.
“More and more households have extended family living together under one roof, and the tight fit has some families in the market for a larger home.
From 2007 to 2009, there was a 10.5 percent increase in multi-generational homes that translates to 51 million Americans, or 16.7 percent of the population, who lived in homes with at least two generations of adults, according to a recent report from Pew Research Center. If your household is growing and you’re looking for a larger space to accommodate your needs and family size, the housing market is in your favor. Low prices and attractive interest rates have created an opportunity for anyone looking to make a larger housing purchase.
As multi-generational living becomes more prevalent, builders and re-modelers have found a niche market in creating homes designed to fit the lifestyle. For the “Sandwich Generation,” a generation of people who are caring for their aging parents while supporting their own children, there are advantages to having children and grandparents under one roof such as sharing of household responsibilities and finances and increased focus on family time together. With these advantages, however, there may be a need for a larger home to accommodate a growing family.
A recent TD Bank survey found that of respondents who were planning to sell their current home and buy up, one-third attributed it to a larger or growing family. To finance a bigger home purchase, you can look to a jumbo mortgage. Jumbo mortgages are home loans that are bigger than normal. Normal varies by location, but in most housing markets, it’s more than $417,000.
Overall, the residential mortgage landscape is experiencing gradual improvements, with housing prices stabilizing and even improving in some markets. If you’re looking for a larger space to accommodate your growing family, consider beginning your home buying process now. When looking into lenders, consider a portfolio lender, who can offer flexible terms and lending guidelines, to best fit your unique borrowing needs.”
A still murky economy and uncertain real estate market may have you wondering if buying a home is a good idea. Whether you’re thinking about buying, or already have and just need some affirmation, you may find it comforting to know there are still plenty of good reasons for financially stable people to buy a house. Here are a few:
* Homeownership can help make good credit even better. If your credit is in poor shape, you’ll want to monitor it before seeking a mortgage. But if you have good credit, live within your means, and consistently make good financial decisions, a mortgage can be the kind of “good debt” that helps your overall financial health. Making regular payments on a mortgage shows potential lenders that you’re a less risky candidate for a home loan. Before you begin home shopping, it’s a good idea to check your credit. Enrolling in a product like freecreditscore.com can help you better understand and leverage your credit.
* A mortgage can function like an automatic savings plan. By now, you’ve read the news reports about how little we Americans save these days. Well, every year you pay on your fixed-rate mortgage, is a year of building equity, and equity is like money in the bank. When it’s time to sell – whether you’ve stayed in your home seven years or the full 30 year term – you’ll have created equity and should be able to sell your house for more than you owe.
* Homeownership comes with plenty of financial perks, including an income tax credit for property taxes you pay on your home. For detailed information on tax breaks check out IRS.gov. Buying a home also affords you the opportunity to halt your housing costs. Rent will always go up from year to year, but if you have a fixed-rate mortgage (avoid adjustable rates) your biggest annual expense – housing costs – will be locked-in.
* Mortgage interest is a good deal when stacked up against other types of interest that don’t do much for you – such as high credit card interest rates or low rates on savings accounts and CDs. Mortgage rates are low right now, meaning you can pay less over the life of a loan than at practically any other time in recent history. Plus, it’s the only kind of interest that you can deduct from your taxes.
* Prices are still relatively low and inventory is high. It’s been a buyer’s market for a long time, but that’s going to change. The question is: when will the market start to improve in your area, taking home prices with it? You’ll have to do some legwork and astute research to determine when is the best time for you to buy.
If you monitor your credit and are on a sound financial footing, buying a home can still be a good idea. And now is as good a time as any to make your purchase.
Water and the summer months tend to go hand-in-hand – water skiing or fishing at a lake, taking a dip in a swimming pool and watering home-grown plants with a garden hose are among the season’s most popular activities. Recent summers have also been some of the driest on record, prompting grass fires, drastically low lake levels and water utilities having to implement water restrictions on their customers.
The National Weather Service has predicted that states from Georgia to Texas to California and even the Hawaiian islands will see persisting and potentially intensifying drought conditions this summer. In addition to local droughts, water scarcity is a global issue. According to the United Nations’ Water for Life campaign, around 1.2 billion people, or almost one-fifth of the world’s population, live in parts of the world where access to clean water sources is extremely difficult. Additionally, water around the world is unevenly distributed, taken for granted and wasted, polluted or unsustainably managed.
“Water scarcity and access to clean water are issues in the U.S. and around the world, but the good news is that we can all make a positive difference when it comes to saving water,” says Caitlin Feehan, environmental engineer with www.mwhglobal.com, a water-focused engineering consulting firm. “While climate change, population growth and tendency to waste resources are impacting the world’s water, there are small steps each of us can take to conserve water every day.”
So how can you positively impact water usage inside and outside your home? Here are five simple tips for the summer months:
* Start with smart landscaping decisions. Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting – longer grass shades the root systems and holds moisture in soil better than shorter grass. Also, consider composting kitchen scraps, lawn clippings and garden waste to retain more water, reduce erosion and even decrease weed growth.
* Water your yard responsibly. When summer temperatures heat up, water your lawn in the mornings to reduce water loss from evaporation. You can also set your sprinklers to a lower pressure. Why? Higher pressure creates a fine mist that evaporates faster or will blow away, thus wasting water.
* Start your day by showering with a low-flow showerhead. Low-flow showerheads limit the water flow to around three gallons per minute as compared to twice that for a normal showerhead. Pick one up at a local home improvement or hardware store. If you’re remodeling a bathroom, you can look at other water- and energy-saving gadgets like tank-less water heaters or low-volume flush toilets.
* Reduce the amount of water that runs down drains. It’s estimated that 95 percent of water that flows through a home runs down the drain, but simple steps like turning off the running water while brushing teeth or washing hands until it’s time to rinse decreases water waste. Consider collecting some of this water when there may be another use for it, such as watering a plant. Also, rather than running cold water from the tap until it’s cold enough to quench your summer thirst, refill and store a pitcher of water in the refrigerator.
* Save water and energy in the laundry room. Reduce water waste by running a washer only when it’s full. Using cold water also reduces the amount of energy used and conserves hot water for other household needs that require it. Need a new washer? According to ENERGY STAR, the average American family washes almost 300 loads of laundry each year, but can significantly reduce energy and water usage by purchasing ENERGY STAR-qualified products. For example, a full-sized ENERGY STAR qualified washer uses 14 gallons of water per load, nearly 50 percent less water than a standard machine.
“Summer is the perfect time to evaluate how we use water as part of our daily routine,” says Feehan. “Water is our planet’s most precious resource that we can all conserve for future generations by taking smart, simple steps today.”
For more information on water savings tips this summer and information on incentives or rebates in your area, check with your local water utility.
Bigger isn’t always better in the real estate world, and what’s more, it’s not always possible. With more baby boomers downsizing from McMansions to smaller, more manageable houses, and a growing number of people opting to rent rather than buy, many families are looking for new ways to decorate, design and work with smaller spaces.
Kitchens sell homes, but this most-used room in the house hasn’t escaped the “less is more” trend, either. Interior designers, decorators and home product makers are responding to the growing demand for practical, beautiful options that make sense in smaller kitchens.
If you’re looking to make a big impact in a small kitchen, here are a few ideas to get you started:
Work the walls – You may love your cozy kitchen, but that doesn’t mean you want to make it look or feel any smaller than it already is. Lighter wall colors can help a little kitchen feel more open and airy. One winning decorating technique for small kitchens is to paint the majority of the wall space in a light neutral tone, like a pale cream or taupe and then add a pop of brighter or darker color to one accent wall or area. You can edge up the excitement of this technique by using a mural for kitchens on the accent wall, rather than just a different paint color. Have an oddly shaped niche in your kitchen? You can turn that problematic space into a design statement with custom, repositionable wallpaper that can be custom-sized and custom-colored to fit your specifications. This unique product can be adhered and re-adhered hundreds of times so you can take it with you to your next house if you choose.
Smart-size your appliances – Sure that 30-cubic-foot stainless steel refrigerator is beautiful in the showroom, but how much will you love it when you can’t fully open the door in your small kitchen? Refrigerators come in several sizes, so you should be able to find one that will fit your space. The same is true for stoves, microwaves and dishwashers. Choosing appliances that make size-sense for the space you have not only improves the livability of your petite kitchen, it can improve your efficiency as well.
Get creative with storage – One of the biggest challenges of a small kitchen is finding space for everything from pots and pans to flatware, dishes and foodstuffs. Small spaces call for storage creativity. Whether you hang some pots and pans overhead, replace traditional cabinet shelves with pullout drawers or use special racks to store plates vertically, you can find plenty of creative small-kitchen storage solutions.
Liven things up with light – Often, a small kitchen will have just one window – or no window at all. Yet light is an important way to make a tight space feel more expansive and inviting. Task lighting is essential for work areas in small spaces. Pendant lights can create ambiance and provide practical illumination without sacrificing any wall space. And if you crave natural light for your windowless kitchen, consider installing a skylight. Tubular skylights can bring sunlight into your ground-floor kitchen even if there’s a second floor above it.
Small kitchens are here to stay, whether as part of the trend toward smaller, more efficient homes or the reality of rental unit life. With some decorating creativity and practical design tactics, you can ensure your small kitchen yields large benefits – both in terms of enjoyment and resale value.