Black Friday: Shop Smarter with These 4 Tips

Nov 23, 2017 by

For better or worse, the American Thanksgiving tradition now includes a midnight run to the nearest department store or electronics retailer in the hopes of nabbing the ultimate Black Friday deal. But before you join the masses in this shopping madness, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises doing the following to make sure the deal you worked so hard for doesn’t turn into a disaster.

  1. Is the discount really a discount? Make sure that the price wasn’t inflated before the store offered a percentage off. For example, if there is 20 percent off the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), that’s not much of a deal. The MSRP is a much higher price than what the store would normally sell the product for.
  2. Read the fine print. Some Black Friday sale items may only be available in limited quantities or during specific hours. In other words, you may need to line up before the store opens to even have a chance of scoring that deal.
  3. Be aware of the return policy. Before you purchase, make sure you’re able to return the sale item if it turns out not to be what you wanted or if you find it cheaper somewhere else.
  4. Be safe online. Lots of Black Friday deals are offered online as well. Be sure to pay with a credit card as opposed to your debit card – your credit card is protected in case of fraudulent activity, whereas your bank account is at risk when using your debit card – and look for the padlock icon in the browser to make sure you’re on a secure site.

Finally, the BBB reminds us that there are many holiday shopping deals to be had beyond Black Friday. Consider Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday, as well as local craft and gift fairs. Of course, the best way to avoid overspending this holiday season is to create a budget, make a list and stick to it. Remember, the most thoughtful gifts usually don’t come with high price tags…or any price tag at all.

I hope you enjoyed these tips. Contact me today for any of your real estate needs!

The post Black Friday: Shop Smarter with These 4 Tips appeared first on RISMedia.


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Shop Local – for Realtors, too

Dec 25, 2015 by

shop localWith last minute shopping for the holiday season underway, I’m making a conscious effort to shop locally to support our community. The Shop Local movement swept our city a few years ago. Between the newspaper articles, social media, radio ads, and strategically placed sidewalk signs, we were (and still are) inundated with the Shop Local call to action.

Isn’t it interesting that we have to be reminded to support our own people; our own businesses?

Back when I was a kid growing up in a small town, shopping locally was what we did. We didn’t need anyone to tell us to do it; it was simply how we lived. We walked from store to store to have our needs met. We had a clothing store, a furniture store, a jewelry store… you get the idea.

We shopped locally more out of necessity than anything else. We didn’t have the internet or big box stores like Walmart at that time. If we wanted something, we had to go to the specialty store to get it. Because it was a niche store, there was a nice selection and the employees were considered experts on their products. They knew a lot about their inventory. We didn’t need yelp reviews back then. The store owners sold quality merchandise because their reputation was what kept their doors open.

Things certainly have changed over the last forty years. Instead of specialty shops, we make one trip to one store to buy a lawnmower, groceries, light bulbs, a cell phone and then get our hair cut on the way out the door. The retail industry has been radically transformed, and along with that so has people’s shop local mentality.

shop local

The lines have been so blurred about where our products come from and who we are supporting that we no longer think anything of shopping online to buy the same cocktail dress showcased in a local storefront, or going to the big-chain retail store to purchase the same toy offered at our independently owned shop.

This applies to real estate, too. All the property information, specs, taxes, photos, everything is online. So you don’t need a local agent anymore, right?


Consider this: My clients were moving 90 minutes away. I tried to refer them to a local agent in that area, but they insisted I help them. I explained that I wasn’t an expert there, and that I was really nervous about any liability that may arise. The husband told me he grew up there, would do all the research, and we’d just make it work. Through the course of finding them a home, I found out that certain areas have non-potable well water due to a high sodium content, the septic must be pumped by the seller prior to the deed being transferred, and a certificate of occupancy must be issued for all transactions. What an eye opening experience!

Don’t assume that because someone is from the next big city over that they are better than someone in your own backyard. Just like back in the day when store owners were experts on their products, Realtors are experts on their local inventory and customary practices.

Support your community, support the business owners, and most importantly, shop local- even when choosing a real estate expert.

Amy Gilpin RealtorAmy Gilpin, Associate Broker, Manager, ABR.

Fourteen years of helping clients. Six years of helping agents. All for this crazy thing we call real estate.

Production Realty  517-879-4141


The post Shop Local – for Realtors, too appeared first on National Real Estate Post.

National Real Estate Post

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Engel & Völkers Opens New Shop in Houston

May 29, 2015 by

Leading international luxury real estate firm, Engel & Völkers today announced the opening of its new Houston shop, extending the brand’s comprehensive global services to real estate buyers and sellers of this established and growing metropolitan city. “With his 28 years of real estate experience and as the founder and owner of one of the […]

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How to Shop for a Mortgage Online

May 6, 2015 by

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businessman earning lots of...

By Gerri Detweiler

Ron Milman refinanced his mortgage in early 2015. A resident of an Atlanta suburb, Milman says he saved money, closed quickly, and except for one quick trip to a local bank to meet a local attorney to finalize paperwork, he never left his home office. Working strictly online and by phone, he says getting his mortgage online was a painless process for him. “I really don’t like going into an office,” he says. “It’s so much wasted time and effort.”

If you’re in the market for a home loan, whether for a purchase or refinance, you may have toyed with the idea of using an online lender. But you may be wondering what getting a mortgage online is like. How is the process different?

“The Internet provides the most convenient way for consumers to compare mortgage service offerings; as a result, a growing portion of mortgage originations are anticipated to be completed online in the years to come,” says Stephen Hoopes, an analyst with research firm IBISWorld.

It’s important to first understand that shopping for a mortgage online can be different than getting a mortgage online. In the first scenario, you may be using a service that doesn’t actually make loans but helps connect you to lenders. In the latter case, you actually apply for and complete the process largely online.

With that in mind, here are some of the differences when you get an online mortgage:

The Internet Holds Answers

Aren’t sure about a mortgage term? Need help deciding which type of loan to get, or whether to go for a longer-term loan or a shorter one? You can take a break to research it before you decide without giving a loan officer a blank stare or feeling like you are being put on the spot. Not that you can’t do that before you shop for a mortgage anyway, but apparently quite a few consumers don’t fully educate themselves on all their options when getting the largest loan of their lives.

A recent report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that almost half of borrowers seriously consider only a single lender or broker before deciding where to apply. The CFPB also says that most borrowers rely heavily on those who have a financial stake in the transaction, and less than half get a lot of their information from outside sources such as websites, financial and housing counselors, or friends, relatives or co-workers.

Of course, researching online can be a double-edged sword. You need to make sure you are getting information from reliable sources, such as independent educational websites. The CFPB is one source of free education through its Owning a Home initiative.

Do It on Your Own Time

Need to dig up a bank statement for your lender? Want to check on the status of your appraisal? With an online lender you can usually take care of those things whenever it’s convenient for you. Information about the status of your loan will be available to view online, and if you have a question, employees may be available to review your loan file and answer questions outside of the standard banking hours. “You can see (your information) 24/7 and you are not locked into business hours getting a hold of your loan officer or processor,” says Bob Walters, chief economist at Quicken Loans.

Whatever Works

While virtually the entire process can take place online, you aren’t tied to your computer. If you have to provide documentation and don’t have a fax machine or scanner, you should be able to overnight bank statements, tax returns or other documents to the lender. Certain documents will have to be notarized, and the notary will come to you or meet you in a convenient location, such as a local coffee shop. Most closings for purchase transactions take place at a title company, while closings for refinance transactions can take place anywhere you choose.

Some Things Never Change

Of course, whether you decide to work with a local lender or an online mortgage company, certain things don’t change. You will want to get your free annual credit reports to make sure they are accurate. Do this at least six weeks before you plan to apply, or earlier if possible, to give yourself time to correct mistakes. In addition, getting a free credit score will help you understand whether your credit is excellent, fair or poor. (You can get two of your credit scores for free on While you are at it, if you hope to buy a home, it’s a good idea to get pre-approved for a mortgage.

And be prepared to be 100% truthful and supply documentation your loan officer may need — including copies of bank statements, tax returns, pay stubs, etc. Just because you scan documents doesn’t mean you won’t have paperwork! But you may save a few trees — and save yourself a few headaches — this way.

It goes without saying that you should make sure you are dealing with a reputable lender with a secure website. No one should be emailing a copy of your tax return or credit report back and forth to you. The last thing you want is for this kind of sensitive information to fall into the hands of a scammer.

And while rates are very important, Scott Sheldon, a loan officer with Sonoma County Mortgages and a contributor, warns that you may get what you pay for. “Internet lenders are priced incredibly thin. Their pricing and rates can be fantastic, but they operate solely off of volume.”

He is concerned that going this route can be especially risky for homebuyers with unique circumstances or a less than “squeaky clean” file. What happens to your home purchase if the “underwriter denies your file because it wasn’t packaged properly upfront by the loan officer whose is also working on 50 other loans simultaneously?” he asks.

For Milman, at least, the process that started with a phone call in December resulted in a closed loan by mid-January. “It makes a whole lot of sense to do this online,” he says.


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