Category Archives: Home Buyers

At An Open House, Safety Is Everyone’s Job

Last year, agent Beverly Carter was murdered after showing a house to what she thought was a prospective cash buyer. Since then, September as REALTOR® Safety Month has held special significance for agents. It’s also become a rallying point to keep safety top-of-mind. Whether you’re buying a home, selling a home or showing the home, ensuring a safe real estate transaction is important.

Here are some ways each party can stay safe in both a common but possibly dangerous situation: the open house.

For the seller: Your first showing of your home happens online. Hide pictures of your children and loved ones. Tuck away identifiable information from the eyes of criminals. Know exactly when your information is going up on the MLS and be prepared to turn down unexpected visits from stop-in “buyers.” All those precautions you took for online listings? Do them ten-fold for in-person showings. Ensure calendars that display your family’s whereabouts get hidden from view. Lock up valuables like computers or jewelry. Hide any alcohol or prescription medications that might be in cabinets around your home. (Addicts often target open houses for places to pick up substances.)

For the buyer: Luckily for the real estate market and the economy, foreclosures are down from their peaks of the last decade. Lessons learned from this tumultuous time in real estate, however, are still key to safety. Research the neighborhood’s safety stats before you visit. (You’ll want this information anyway before you buy, so it’s great to get a head start.) Keep an eye out for anything strange while walking around a home once you have arrived. Have your agent check for hazards in the home from loose floorboards to surprise squatters.

For the agent: If you can, view properties—hopefully with a colleague—before you show them to a client. This helps ensure there are no unwanted visitors in say, a foreclosed or abandoned home. But it also allows a chance for you to map a safety and exit plan in case of an emergency situation in the home. Alert others when you are viewing homes if you must go alone. Establishing a predetermined “safety phrase” with your office manager or broker is also helpful. You can even dip your toe into the high-tech market with wearable technology. These new devices can help save you in a high-pressure situation.

For everyone: Here’s the takeaway—Think about safety before it becomes an emergency. Creating a game plan ahead of time is a great way to keep everyone safe while on the way to finding their dream home.

For more ways to stay safe, check out REALTOR® Magazine’s Field Guide to Safety.

Realty Executives Gulf Coast’s Clarissa Rambo featured on HGTV show ‘Beach Flip’

Gulf-Shores-aerial
Gulf Coast aerial view courtesy of Clarissa Rambo.

Scoring a high return on investment is bound to cross the minds of homeowners as they embark on significant renovations or repairs. For contestants on HGTV’s new Beach Flip series, it’s the name of the game. When it comes to real estate in Gulf Shores, Alabama (the show’s focal point) Executive Clarissa Rambo of Realty Executives Gulf Coast knows the bottom line. Beach Flip’s challenge? Each 2-person team on the show was tasked with turning around a rundown, two bedroom, two bathroom beachfront home in eight weeks while staying within a $40,000 budget. Rambo was selected to appear on the show (airing Sundays on HGTV, 8:00pm CST through August 22) to evaluate each team’s renovation work. You’ll have to catch the show’s final episode to see which team will walk away with the $50,000 prize. However, you don’t have to wait for an inside scoop on the Gulf Shores market, plus insight on which home repairs make the most sense to the pros!

Clarissa Rambo was a natural choice for the producers of Beach Flip. She was asked to evaluate the weekly home improvements made by each team, along with a handful of other local real estate professionals featured on the show. Rambo grew up in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and has local expertise of the Alabama Gulf Coast market.  A multi-million dollar producer, she has more than seven years of experience as a real estate agent along with two years of experience in the title industry.  We recently chatted with Rambo, who shared insider info in the following interview:

Is there a strong market for waterfront fixer-uppers in the Gulf Shores, Alabama area?
While there are a plethora of dated beach homes and duplexes along the Gulf Coast, our inventory at the moment is low. I expect inventory to start catching back up in the fall and through the winter, when the units are not booked with back-to-back vacation rentals.

Is it reasonable for everyday buyers to take on these types of renovation projects? Or is it best left up to the pros?
It is completely possible for everyday buyers to take on these types of projects as long as they are willing to put in a lot of sweat equity. However, most of the “flippers” tend to be investors who have done several of these types of renovations, but everyone has to start somewhere!

As you evaluated home improvements made on the show, what aspects of the home were you most focused on? What in particular were you looking for?
We have been tasked with evaluating the homes before, during and after the renovation process. Mainly, we focus on return on investment by considering what buyers are going to look for when searching for a beach house, which boils down to:
• Function
• Durability
• Aesthetics
• Convenience

In your professional opinion, which types of home renovation bring the most return on investment for sellers?
In my opinion, the largest return on investment in home renovations center around kitchens and bathrooms. This trend remains strong in many regions, but in a beachfront home, relaxation and entertainment are important factors. It’s very obvious to buyers if upgrades to kitchens and baths have not been maintained through the years, causing homes to appear dated when these areas are overlooked, even when basic home maintenance has remained consistent.

What are the top 3 reasons home buyers would want to relocate to the Gulf Shores area?
Alabama’s Gulf Coast is a hidden gem (though maybe not for long)!
1. We have beautiful white sand beaches and gorgeous Gulf waters.
2. Our cost of living is very affordable.
3. We remain a family beach with plenty of activities, restaurants and shopping for the entire family. Gulf Shore’s motto is “small town, big beach” and I believe that description fits us perfectly.

Watch the latest episode of Beach Flip this Sunday, at 8:00pm CST on HGTV.  You may just catch the home renovation bug yourself!