First-Time Home Buyer Confessions: ‘How We Beat 32 Offers and Got the House’

First-time home buyers have it harder today than ever. Caught between high real estate prices, low housing inventory, and a pandemic that has many of us nervous about leaving our house, home shoppers might be wondering: Is it even possible to buy right now—and how?

If you’re curious about what it takes to purchase property in today’s marketplace, look no further than this new series, “First-Time Home Buyer Confessions.” We’ll profile home buyers who’ve successfully navigated a variety of obstacles to close a real estate deal during these challenging times. We’ll also hear what they’ve learned in the process that might inspire other hopeful first-time buyers to get out there and follow in their footsteps.

Our first tale from the trenches comes from Julie Migliacci, a virtual events planner near Boston, and her husband, Mark, a banker who specializes in affordable housing. In June, they beat out 32 other offers (yes, 32!) and purchased a 1,627-square-foot, three-bedroom house in Wakefield, a Boston suburb. Here’s how they pulled it off, along with the many mistakes and lessons learned along the way.

The Migliaccis paid $50,000 over asking price for their first home.
The Migliaccis paid $50,000 over asking price for their first home.

Location: Wakefield, MA

House details: 1,627 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths

List price: $599,000

Price paid: $650,000

What made you decide to buy a house in the middle of a pandemic?

Three years ago, Mark and I moved from New York City to Boston and rented a 900-square-foot apartment in Belmont with our two daughters, Chloe and Rose.

We’d always known we wanted to buy a home. But once COVID-19 hit and we were all working and schooling from home, our tiny apartment felt like nothing anymore.

At one point I looked at my husband and said, “I love you, but I really don’t like being with you right now.” So we agreed to put our house hunt in hyperdrive.

The Migliaccis' rental, a second-floor apartment in Belmont, MA, was affordable enough that they were able to save to buy a house.
The Migliaccis’ rental, a second-floor apartment in Belmont, MA, was affordable enough that they were able to save to buy a house.

Julie Migliacci

How much did you put down on the house—and how’d you save for it?

We put down 20%. We’d been saving for three years. We’d made sure our rent was low enough that we could really sock a lot away. We could have paid higher rent for a bigger place, but wanted every extra cent we had going to our house fund.

The Migliacci daughters, Chloe and Rose
The Migliacci daughters, Chloe and Rose

Julie Migliacci

What were you looking for in a house?

COVID-19 definitely shifted what we were looking for in a home. We always had a goal of finding a place with about 1,700 square feet. But now I found myself wanting a yard more than ever. I’m a city kid, so originally I never thought that was something I needed. I also wanted to find a house that was close to the city, in case we ever needed to commute back in.

The back of the home with a large yard.
The back of the home with a large yard.

How many homes did you see in person?

Starting in April, over the course of five weeks, we visited about 10 homes—alone, in masks, with plenty of hand sanitizer of course. With COVID-19, there were no open houses.

How many offers did you make before you had one accepted?

We put in offers on five different houses.

Why do you think your first four offers didn’t pan out?

At the beginning, we had this HGTV idea of what a home-buying experience would be like. We thought we’d go $10,000 above asking and be fine. But what we realized is we weren’t even in the running. It was a waste of time and paper. I was surprised at how competitive the market is right now because of COVID-19. We kept making offers on houses after seeing them for just a few minutes, and we still kept getting outbid. I guess you could say our learning curve was steep.

Every time we got denied, we asked who won the house instead. The offers that kept winning were those that waived all contingencies. So we did what everyone tells you not to do: We waived the financing contingency and the home inspection in order to even have a shot. We crossed our fingers, read all of the disclosures very carefully, and hoped it would all work out.

How did you know this house was the one?

We thought this house was nuts! It has a two-story rock formation out front that, at first glance, looked like a death trap for my two kids.

The rock formation at the Migliacci home
The rock formation at the Migliacci home

Julie Migliacci

At the time we put in an offer, we’d actually had an offer in on another house as well. That house checked all the boxes, but needed a bit more work. This house, despite the rock, was move-in ready.

As we waited to hear back on these offers, we actually tried to talk ourselves out of the house. We kept saying, “It’s an empty-nester home, not a home for a family.” And then, of course, that’s the house we ultimately got. We’re really happy, though. It’s definitely our dream home now.

The Migliacci family all smiled when they first entered this home.
The Migliacci family all smiled when they first entered this home.

Julie Migliacci

How’d you manage to beat out 32 other offers on this house?

I don’t know honestly! In addition to waiving contingencies, we were very aggressive with our price point, offering $50,000 over the asking price. And that wasn’t even the highest offer!

It may have also helped that I wrote a very heartfelt letter to the sellers. I wrote letters to every house we put an offer on, where I described a tiny detail that I thought would resonate with the owners. For the house we ultimately bought, I wrote a letter where I joked that our whole family smiled when we first walked into the home, except for our fish. My husband was against using that line, but I think it worked!

Their heartfelt offer letter may have helped them get the house.
Their heartfelt offer letter may have helped them get the house.

Julie Migliacci

What surprised you about the home-buying process?

I think it’s crazy that we’d see a house for five or 10 minutes before deciding to put in an offer. With houses staying on the market for a matter of days or even hours, we knew we had to act as fast as possible.

Yet after our offer was accepted, the process slowed down, a lot. We closed in 30 days. I was surprised that it was considered lightning-fast. I wanted to move right away! It takes a few hours to buy a car.

Although they now have a lot more space, they still sometimes work at the same table—old habits are hard to break!
Although they now have a lot more space, they still sometimes work at the same table—old habits are hard to break!

Julie Migliacci

What’s your advice for aspiring home buyers?

If you decide to buy during COVID-19, I’d recommend doing as much research as possible. Get to know the neighborhood. Because once you find a house you like, you’ll likely have to jump on it as soon as possible.

Some markets right now are aggressive, and if you aren’t ready for that, then it’s going to take you a long time to find the right home. So be ready for a lot of heartache. If you’re crazy enough to be a buyer right now, then that must mean you’re motivated—which is good!

The newest member of the Migliacci household seems to like his new digs, too.
The newest member of the Migliacci household seems to like his new digs, too.

Julie Migliacci


Netflix’s ‘Dead to Me’ Series will Have You Day-Dreaming about Jen’s Perfect House

If you often find yourself conflicted while watching Dead to Me — Netflix’s hit drama series that recently launched its second season — you’re not alone. Sure, nobody wants the burden of all the secrets Jen and Judy are carrying, nor the pain that comes with them. At the same time, if you’re like me, you’ll find an irresistible pull to live in Jen and Judy’s world; and if you haven’t yet figured out why that is, then let’s break the spell together: it’s because of Jen’s house.

In fact, set decorators have made an extra effort to make Jen’s house in Dead to Me aspirational — with the bright, open spaces and luxurious decor standing in stark contrast with the dark storyline and the anger often showcased throughout the series.

And it only makes sense for Jen Harding — a successful local realtor, whose face is plastered on street benches throughout the area, as we learn very early on in the show — to own a beautiful, perfectly appointed beach house. The house itself is an extension of the character, and does a great job of complementing Jen’s character traits.

Jen’s house in Dead to Me. Image credit: Brandi Kalish

Does the house in Dead to Me exist in real-life?

Said to be in Laguna Hills, Jen’s house has been carefully picked to match her social status and character features. And while the team has scouted several homes in the Laguna Beach area, including going to open houses and looking up properties on Zillow and Redfin, they eventually settled on a Sherman Oaks house for exterior shots.

A real-life house at 3847 Deervale Drive in Sherman Oaks plays the part of Jen’s house in Dead to Me — but there is no guest house on that property. Judy’s guest house, along with the interiors of Jen’s house have been built on a sound stage.

Judy’s guest house in Dead to Me. Image credit: Brandi Kalish

Set decorator Brandi Kalish (who also did the interiors for other shows like Silicon Valley, You’re the Worst, and White Famous), opened up about the design choices for the Dead to Me house in a lengthy interview with Refinery29, where she even addressed some of the subtle changes we’re seeing inside the house in the show’s second season.

“A set is like a character. And, as a family lives in a house and they go through all their trials and tribulations, different layers of the characters will speak in the house. So we thought about what Jen is going through and what items would be Judy’s and Jen’s sons and things like that and add those layers inside the house. But we also have to keep the continuity of the house — like I said, it’s similar to a character. So basically it has to look the same, but it has to evolve over time.”

Scene from Jen’s house in Dead to Me. Image credit: Saeed Adyani / Netflix

When asked what her favorite part of the house is, Kalish said she likes the blue paint most — chosen to evoke the ocean nearby, but that in the end added a contemporary yet kind of sinister look to the home.

Our favorite? That would definitely be Jen’s kitchen, a showstopper that’s bound to catch your eye whenever a scene takes place here. With sparkling white furniture, granite countertops, the finest appliances, and a massive kitchen island with bar stools, the kitchen is an absolute delight. Oh, and there’s also that cozy breakfast nook with garden views.

Scene from Jen’s house in Dead to Me. Image credit: Saeed Adyani / Netflix

If you haven’t yet gotten a chance to watch the show, Dead to Me is a Netflix production centered around a powerful friendship that blossoms between Jen (played by Christina Applegate) — a recently widowed real estate agent trying to come to terms with her loss — and Judy (portrayed by Linda Cardellini, of Avengers fame). The two grieving women bond during therapy, with Judy soon moving into Jen’s guest house. However, Judy has a dark secret that causes a disturbing plot twist, leading Jen on a path to unravel the mystery of her husband’s death and secret life.

More homes from popular TV shows

The Byrde Family House in ‘Ozark’ is Actually in Georgia
The Real-Life Homes from Modern Family — and Where to Find Them
We Are the Ones Who Knock — on Walter White’s Fictional Door in Breaking Bad
All the Glamorous Penthouses, Suites, and Lofts in Gossip Girl


How We Bought a House That Wasn’t for Sale (and How You Can, Too)

While trying to buy a house this summer, I assumed our real estate options were limited to homes that were officially for sale.

Well, guess what? We ended up buying a house that wasn’t even listed—and learned that this home-buying strategy wasn’t just possible, but often preferable if you’re purchasing property in a competitive market.

Here’s how we pulled it off, and how you can, too.

How we bought an unlisted house

The backstory: My husband and I had been house hunting for months in Alabama, and had fallen in love with one particular property in the highly desirable historic district of Florence. We made an offer the same day we toured the house, only to be heartbroken upon learning that it went to another buyer (a relative of the seller).

Feeling at a loss, we scoured Florence for other options, but nothing else was for sale—which made sense, because it’s a coveted area of the Shoals region.

Disappointed and tired of waiting for listings that seemed to sell within days of their going live, we asked our real estate agent, Jody Lanier with MarMac Real Estate, if he had any ideas.

That’s when he introduced the idea of looking beyond what was available on real estate listings sites.

We were game to try it out. So our real estate agent put out feelers, and soon found a 1917-built home that was on our perfect street. My husband and I fell in love with it the moment we set foot on the front porch and felt giddy stepping inside.

Basically, the sellers had named their asking price, and if we were interested, we could put in an offer for that amount—take it or leave it. Since the price was within our budget, we went for it, signing and submitting a typical home buyer’s contract that evening.

In the morning, we had more good news: They’d accepted!

It was a thrill to know that we’d gone under contract without having to compete against other buyers, saving us a lot of worry and disappointment in the offer process.

How to buy a house that isn’t on the market

Buying an unlisted house appears to be a growing trend in heated markets. According to Pamela Ermen, president of Real Estate Guidance in Norfolk, VA, it’s called “going under the market,” which means digging into the housing inventory in a particular area to find unlisted gems where the owners might be up for selling if they receive the right offer.

It’s just smart to “introduce yourself as a buyer to [a home] before you have to compete with other people for it,” says Ermen, who specializes in such listings.

Here are a few tactics that will help make this needle-in-haystack process a success.

Find a real estate agent willing to do some digging

Buying a house that isn’t for sale takes more legwork on the agent’s end than usual. So for starters, you’ll want to make sure you have an agent willing to go the extra mile. Here are a few of the steps agents take.

  • Review expired listings: This is where your real estate agent digs through expired listings to see who once had their home on the market, checking to see if it ever sold. If it hasn’t, your agent can then reach out to the sellers and see if they’re open to selling now.
  • Check tax records: Your agent can also research tax records in a particular neighborhood to see who has a different address for tax returns than the property address. This suggests that the house is vacant or an investment property.
  • Send direct mail: This involves a real estate agent sending postcards to homeowners in the neighborhood or ZIP code you want to live in, inviting them to get in touch if they’re open to receiving offers on their home. Since part of the appeal might be that the sale could be easy and practically painless—no home staging or open houses needed—the postcard should emphasize that the agent has “fully qualified buyers” (like yourself) who are interested in a “quiet sale.”
  • Prospecting neighborhoods: This is where you and your agent drive around a particular neighborhood, writing down addresses of homes that, if they were on the market, you’d love to see. During the COVID-19 pandemic, buyers can also do this on their own, then pass the list of addresses to their agent, who can then reach out to these owners.

While a real estate agent will have to do many of the above tactics, there’s plenty home buyers can do as well to improve the odds of finding an unlisted property they’d love to purchase. Here are a few tactics we tried.

Commit to buying a house in a particular area

If a real estate agent is willing to go the extra mile to find you an off-market home, pledging your commitment to that person is a no-brainer. Stay loyal to that agent so his or her work will pay off.

In our case, our real estate agent showed us about 15 homes this summer, so we knew we’d work only with him on a sale to make it worth his time.

Be flexible

When an agent finds you an off-market home, be ready and willing to go see it at a moment’s notice. In our case, our agent urged us to go ASAP, before the sellers potentially changed their mind about selling. Ermen says she once showed an off-market home at 10 p.m.

Work out your mortgage ahead of time

Ermen says it’s a good idea to get pre-approved for a home loan, and have that letter from the bank in hand to submit with your offer. This proves you’re serious, and can put your money where your mouth is.

Decide what you’re willing to do

Get crystal-clear on your budget and what you’re willing (and not willing) to do to get a home before going the route of an off-market listing, says Ermen.

The nice part about buying a home this way means that you’ll hopefully avoid lots of back-and-forth negotiating, as in a typical sale, and the worry that you’re competing with other buyers. But that doesn’t mean you can necessarily go in with an offer far below asking. If you’re in a competitive market, you’ll need to ask yourself: What am I willing to do to buy this house?

Don’t assume your seller won’t play the field

Even if you’re the first buyer to come knocking at a homeowner’s door, don’t assume things will stay that way once you’ve piqued the seller’s interest in selling.

“You have to assume that a seller is astute enough to know that they might get more money with more competition,” explains Ermen.

You’re also going to have to be prepared to make an offer quickly, as we did. Be fair, legitimate, and direct in your offers.

“You know what they say,” Ermen says. “If you’re going to sleep on it, you won’t sleep in it.”


When Should You Start Looking for a House?

The short answer: Immediately. That is, if you want to buy a home at some point in the next year, or any time thereafter.

We’ll get into the specifics in a moment, but there’s really no sense in waiting if you want to own a home or condo because it’s always going to be a lengthy process.

Sure, once you find “the one” it might only take a month, or even less, to close escrow, thanks to new technologies that are making the actual transactional piece faster.

But the transaction is just one slice of the pie, and usually the fastest part. Personally, whenever I’ve looked for real estate, it’s been a long, long search. We’re talking many months if not a year or longer.

Consider All Aspects of the Process

home buying timeline

  • Decide you want to buy a home (might be a long or short process)
  • Determine if you’re able to (seek out mortgage pre-approval)
  • Might need additional time to save for down payment and/or improve credit
  • Start looking at listings (set saved searches and alerts)
  • Find a real estate agent to work with (can be early on or late in the process)
  • Attend open houses, tour properties, and find one you like
  • Make an offer the seller accepts
  • Conduct inspections
  • Secure financing and close your loan

It’ll Probably Take You Over a Year to Find a Home

If we count the time from when you begin house hunting until your home purchase loan ultimately funds, there’s a decent chance 365 days will have elapsed.

I’m talking the day you first set your filters on Zillow/Redfin until the time the mortgage lender congratulates you on being a homeowner with an oversized key.

Does this mean each and every day is going to be consumed with home shopping? No, not at all. In fact, there might be days or weeks at a time during that span when nothing is brewing.

Your desired market could lie dormant if no new listings appear that fit within your specific parameters.

Of course, this is technically part of the process too. Waiting. And keeping an eye on things even when nothing is happening.

The good news is this will give you more time to prepare as a homeowner, especially if you’re going to be a first-time home buyer.

First Make Sure You Qualify for Home Loan Financing

  • The mortgage should come before the house
  • Not the other way around as some may lead you to believe
  • Know you can actually obtain financing and at what price point
  • Then start looking at suitable properties to ensure you don’t waste your time or anyone else’s

I’ve written an entire post about this, but I’ll reiterate here again. It’s probably not a good idea to start searching for a home until you know you qualify for a mortgage, assuming you’re not paying cash.

You wouldn’t shop for a new car if you didn’t have a steady job and money in the bank, so why shop for an even larger purchase without knowing where you stand?

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to get a mortgage pre-approval, and even easier to get pre-qualified, though the latter isn’t worth a whole lot.

Either way, make sure you do one of the two to at least get a ballpark estimate of what you can afford. And to determine if there are any red flags that need to be addressed early on.

Credit is usually a biggie, and one that can take months to resolve if there are any glaring issues. Or if you simply need time to up your credit scores for more favorable mortgage rate pricing.

Anyway, once you know how much house you can afford, and that you’re more or less eligible for a home loan, you can begin your property search.

Set Up Your Property Searches and Get Email Updates

  • Only after you know you can obtain a home loan
  • Should you begin searching for properties in your price range
  • Companies like Zillow and Redfin are handy and offer nearly real-time updates
  • They allow you to set alerts and receive instant or daily emails when new properties hit the market

One of the best ways to search for a property these days is via Zillow or Redfin. Assuming they cover your particular metro, pretty much every house, condo, and townhome will be listed.

You’ll have a ton of key information at your fingertips, including listing price, days on market, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, sales history, recent comparable sales, and most importantly, pictures!

Most home sellers throw up 20-50 photos or more, so you can do most of your home shopping from the comfort of your own abode before even thinking about a tour.

The good thing about these sites is you can set up filters and saved searches, then elect to receive targeted emails daily or instantly.

So the minute something new pops up, you’ll receive an alert. Or you can wait and get all new listings for that day in one shot.

Assuming you followed step one and got pre-approved for a mortgage, while simultaneously getting all your ducks in a row otherwise, you’ll be ready to pounce at a moment’s notice.

And these days, with the real estate market so hot, you might not get a chance to hesitate (see my 2021 home buying tips for more on that).

However, for most folks, the search process will take over a year, so there’s not necessarily a big rush.

Tip: If it’s a pocket listing or for some reason not on the MLS, the property may not show up on these websites. But this is less likely and even then, it may not be what you’re looking for or readily available.

Select an Experienced Real Estate Agent

  • Most home buyers will use a real estate agent to get the job done despite there being other options
  • You can choose to work with one early on in the discovery process
  • Or do the pre-qualifying and home shopping on your own before selecting one
  • Then you can have them come in just for the negotiation and paperwork when you find a house you like

Another thing you’ll need to take care of along the way is choosing a real estate agent to work with, that is, if you don’t go it alone.

Most home buyers work with agents, so there’s a good chance you will too. Add this selection process onto your home search timeline.

It can happen while you’re looking at prospective homes, or once you’ve already found one. You might know an agent and just tell them to be ready for you once you find your ideal home.

Or you might want some more hand-holding and seek out an agent without delay, who hopefully will get you organized and prepped immediately to avoid any missteps.

I like the idea of doing some stuff on your own first without any input from interested parties so you can explore and figure things out without bias.

But everyone is different and may not have the time, patience, or ability to do so.

Anyway, an agent can send you updates when new listings hit the market as well and basically be a more hands-on guide if you want/need it.

They can take part immediately or enter the conversation at a later date. It’s really up to you on how they fit in.

Tip: You can fly solo and once you find a home you like, use the listing agent as your buying agent to perhaps give you a leg up on the competition. Just be sure they have your best interests in mind too.

There Are Plenty of Houses in the…

  • It’s easy to fall in love with a house at first sight
  • And experience major FOMO along the way
  • But you’ll probably see 10+ properties in person
  • Before finding the right one (so try to temper your emotions)

I think we all have a tendency to fall in love with the homes we see in person, especially as first-timers, but it’s important to physically visit multiple properties to gain perspective.

These days you can see 50+ photos of a property before committing to a tour. So if you’ve made it that far there’s a good chance you’re into it.

Sure, you can arrive at the property in question and be completely underwhelmed, but if do like what you see, it might be hard to walk away.

And even harder not to imagine yourself living there. And decorating it exactly how you wish.

The best line I can think of here is that there are plenty more fish in the sea. Don’t get caught up on that first property, or any property in particular.

Aside from potentially overpaying, often times, you’ll look back and be grateful that you didn’t buy that one house, or you’ll be glad you got outbid by another buyer, etc.

You might get lucky and find that right house in a week, but chances are you won’t. Or it might just feel like the right one until you dig deeper and see more of what’s out there.

Tip: Per the National Association of Realtors, buyers see an average of 10 homes before making an offer. So prepare yourself mentally.

Okay, So How Long Does It Take to Buy a House?

  • The average time it takes to find a house might be 4-6 months
  • But it depends when we actually start the clock
  • Many buyers dip their toes for a while before getting more serious
  • We also have to factor in the many steps including financial prep, selecting an agent, house hunting, and loan closing

While results will vary, maybe tremendously, most industry experts say it’ll take anywhere from four to six months to buy a house, if not longer.

Thing is, it depends when the clock starts ticking. Do we start counting when you first open the Redfin or Zillow app, or do we start counting once you’ve met with a real estate agent?

These days, prospective buyers do a lot on their own before making contact with anyone. Or making it known that they’re even in the market to buy.

They may go through their own little discovery period where they weigh the pros and cons of homeownership, potentially for months.

As noted, it’s advisable to get in touch with a bank, lender, or mortgage broker just to know you qualify for a mortgage. Technically, this could count as the start of the home buying process.

The real estate agent part can be put off until you get more serious about buying a home because of the technology available these days.

We no longer need to be driven around the neighborhood by a friendly real estate agent in their Mercedes-Benz.

So really, the agent can come in during the late stages and help you close the deal, maybe only working with you for a month or so with the offer, paperwork, inspections, and loan closing.

But chances are they’ll come in earlier and send you listings or be on the lookout for properties that might make sense.

Then we have to take into account the home loan process, which can take anywhere from 30-45 days or longer.

If we round that up to two months and add a couple months of looking, we’re already around four months.

But the odds of finding your dream home in two months might be quite low if you’re a picky buyer, which you should be in most cases.

In reality, you could be looking for six months before you find something you like, then once you submit an offer and get your mortgage, it’s seven or eight months.

Factor in the time you were thinking about buying a home for a few months before that, the general financial preparation (saving for a down payment, getting credit in order, etc.), and the pre-approval piece, and you’re at a year in many cases.

To summarize, it going to take a while, and that’s totally okay. It’s not a process that should be rushed.

In fact, the more time that goes by, the more knowledgeable you should become. And you can mentally prepare for homeownership at the same time. That’s a good thing.

Read more: When should I buy a house?


Zoom the New Innovative Way to Sell Real Estate

In recent years, technology has revolutionized almost all aspects of our lives. Technological advances have had huge impacts on the education, automotive, and health sectors. However, the real estate business has not been left behind. Sellers are now embracing new technologies such as using live video calls to giving tours of their properties. In the post lockdown, tech innovators have busted their butts to develop platforms that change how people buy and sell their products. 

One of these platforms that have recently taken over the real estate sector is zoom. Over 300 million people have used zoom for communication. During this covid-19 era, sellers can communicate with their realtors through teleconferencing on the Zoom videoconferencing technology. Realtors can schedule live streams to showcase listed properties.

Zoom For Real Estate

Just like any other technology, the more you use Zoom, the more familiar you get with it. The application contains many features that real estate professionals can manipulate to engage clients effectively. However, not all features are accessible on the free version. If you want the ultimate experience, you’ll need to purchase the Pro edition at $14.99 

With the Pro edition, a real estate agent can host up to 100 participants, nine hosts, and, most importantly, host long meetings. A meeting can go to 24 hours, to be precise, instead of the free version with forty minutes limitation for a group meeting.

How Real Estate Agents Can Use Zoom To Sell Property

As a realtor trying to adapt to this newly discovered go-to tool for communication may be challenging to navigate it to maximize property sales. Here’s a guide to help you understand what features you can exploit to make successful property sales.

Stream From Zoom To YouTube Or Facebook Live

Before you need such powerful features offered by zoom, you may not notice their existence. Zoom offers a feature that allows broadcasting a meeting live via YouTube, Facebook Live or workplace by Facebook. To activate this zoom gem, you’ll need to navigate to settings ( There’s an option named “allow live stream meetings,” where you can switch on the feature in the “advance” button.

As a real estate agent, you can host a webinar and stream live on YouTube and Facebook simultaneously to share information and host tours and reach a bigger audience. The key to this is learning a few tricks: sign up with a link provided, then connect your Facebook, then your YouTube page, and finally, turning on the destination for youtube and Facebook. All these steps are available on the “allow live stream meetings”‘ button. Stopping one of the destinations will stop live streaming on the specific destination.

Record the Zoom Meeting Automatically

For this fantastic feature, you’ll need to purchase a zoom Pro account. You can record your zoom webinar, and all participants notified. This is an alternative to streaming your meeting on Facebook and youtube live, especially if you intend to target local buyers and real estate experts.

What’s more, you can prevent other participants from recording the session: this way, you can be in control of who can access the video, quality, and its manipulation. You can control the final features through video editing. For example, you can add timestamps to help navigate users to the relevant parts of the video.

When you record your zoom meeting, it is saved on your computer in an m4a format for the audio and mp4 format for video. The audio format can be manipulated into a podcast or into a version you can use as audio clips to promote the recorded webinar on social media.

If you subscribe to a business or a higher account for your Real estate business, you can use a useful feature for remote meetings to help brokers. This great feature allows zoom to transcribe recorded meetings automatically.

Virtual Backgrounds

Virtual reality is one of the most significant breakthroughs in the tech industry. Through the use of advanced technology, you can simulate vision to eliminate interactions with the real world. Zoom manipulates this exciting technology to offer a feature that allows users to add a virtual background during a webinar. As a real estate agent, this can help eliminate distractions and increase concentration on the meeting rather than happenings in the real background.

With this exquisite feature, you can showcase your listings to your audience and improve your sales eventually. This virtual background aspect is accessible during a zoom meeting under “preferences.”

🚀 All the Top New Features in Zoom – YouTube

Zoom the Future of Real Estate

With the covid-19 pandemic outbreak in 2020 and governments imposing lockdowns, real estate agents need to embrace new methods of selling properties. One way that has proven effective is using video conferencing tools to reach out to potential buyers and sellers who require realtors’ services. Zoom is one of the best platforms to help guide buyers through countless properties virtually in place of open houses with its numerous prominent features. Thanks to zoom, the real estate sector will not suffer the sharp economic pains cause by covid-19.

Image by antonbe from Pixabay 


Selling? Increase Your Home’s “Screen Appeal”

With home showings going online during COVID-19, learn how to make your listing stand out on screen.

If you were counting on crowded open houses (or any open houses, for that matter) to sell your home, you’ve probably been rethinking your strategy. With many people staying home, online for-sale listings have taken on more importance than ever, and it all starts with increasing your home’s screen appeal.  

Stage your space

The first step in staging your home is aggressive decluttering. Put away all the kids’ and pets’ toys, store or recycle loose magazines and box up your picture frames and mementos for now. You don’t want to erase all the personality from your home, but you do want it to feel neutral so potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. Plus, the less random stuff on display, the more spacious your rooms will look. 

Next, consider the layout. You may love how your rooms are arranged, but your furniture placement might not maximize space on screen. Take some test photos to see if the current layout photographs well. If you’re planning on creating a recorded or live video tour, do a video chat walkthrough with a friend and see if you have a clear path between furniture pieces. You definitely want to avoid tripping over an ottoman while doing a live tour.

Finally, clean and dust every surface in sight, and replace all the lightbulbs so that rooms are as bright as they can be — even the most beautiful spaces won’t read well on camera if they’re too dark.

Consider virtual staging

If your current home is empty, you have a few options: 

  • You can leave it empty. (But staged homes tend to sell faster.) 
  • You can purchase furniture, if you’re able to have it safely delivered to your home. You just need a few key pieces to show the scale of a room — a couch, coffee table and rug establish a living room’s size, for instance. You can always resell or donate the pieces to charity later if you don’t want to keep them. 
  • You could try virtual staging, which digitally adds furnishings to your space. It’s come a long way and can make a home look very attractive. There are many online services as well as DIY apps to choose from. 

Your home looks great now share it

There are a few ways of showcasing your home online to generate more interest, even when having an agent or professional photographer doing the legwork is not an option or involves creative solutions.

For still photographs, see our comprehensive photography guide for home sellers

For guidance on creating recorded or live video walkthroughs, check out these tips

And finally, consider trying out the free Zillow 3D Home® app, an easy way to create a virtual tour on an iPhone and post it to Zillow, Trulia your social accounts and beyond.


886: Win Buyers AND Sellers with the Best Open Houses in Town: Prashant Vanka and Danny Burgess

Open houses are great for getting buyer leads, but if that’s all you’re getting, you’re doing it wrong! On today’s podcast with Prashant Vanka and Danny Burgess of Doors Advisors, we discuss what it takes to run the best open houses in town – open houses that will attract a steady stream of buyers and make sellers eager to list with you. You’ll also get a powerful pitch for inviting neighbors to open houses, cold-calling scripts, marketing advice, and more!

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Ask The Expert: The LO Before Me Was Terrible, How Can I Win Over Agents?

Rebecca from Wisconsin asks: “I work from inside a real estate office under a joint marketing agreement with the real estate company. I was just assigned to the office recently, but the agents don’t seem to be open to working with me because of the poor job the previous loan officer did in that office. How can I change things around quickly because I don’t have much time financially?”

Dave Hershman

Dave: This is a common question I receive, and it reminds me of my first job in the industry. As a rookie, I was thrown into a real estate office that had a really bad taste in their mouth from the previous loan officer(s) serving that office.

First, concerning your statement that you don’t have much time financially, you need not abandon your present previous business sources. On the contrary, these sources will help you with your new office.

However, you must become more efficient in targeting outside the office. That means dealing less with time wasters and having an efficient database marketing system.

Secondly, you must perform what I call a “blitzkrieg” on the office. That is an intense marketing and service campaign. Remember that the first impression they get about you lasts forever. That means you must live in the office for the first few months. That is also why you must be efficient on the outside–using the phone and email and database marketing.

Meet with clients inside the real estate office–not in their office. Attend every sales meeting delivering value. Have “lunch and learns” on a regular basis as well. You can bring in speakers such as an appraiser and underwriter. Develop an introductory package that emphasizes your reputation.

It is true that some agents are open to use you because of loyalty to the company and just because of sheer convenience–you are there so often (or all the time). Others will be loyal to outside loan officers and actually be reticent to use you because they feel it is as if they will be associated with your service if something goes wrong.

Thus, there are two keys here. First, is to make sure the service factor is taken out of the equation. This is not easy to do because if something goes wrong, bad news travels at the speed of sound within a real estate office. That means you must have excellent proactive communication skills and the public relations machine must be turned on at all times. For example, when you do a good job, do you get testimonials from the agents and consumers and post them, as well as using them in marketing? The second key? Differentiation. You need to show them that not only do you give great service, but you are there to help them do more business.

Real estate agents are used to loan officers approaching them and trying to get referrals. If you are inside a real estate office, you have a unique opportunity to differentiate yourself from “outside” loan officers acting as salespeople. You want to elevate yourself as a partner to the office.

Your focus? Not only getting deals closed, but helping each agent increase their business.

How can you do that? Start with quality education–sales meetings, “lunch and learns” and seminars. This includes education, which is not only focused upon home financing, but also focused upon helping make them better agents.

Go the extra mile by hosting open houses and broker opens for the listing agents so that you can help turn their listings into lead machines. When I was in a real estate office as a loan officer, I helped agents write contracts, especially the financing segment.

In some respects, I was seen as the “assistant” to the broker. He even introduced me to potential recruits as an asset they would have access to. The more you help the broker recruit, the more they will help you within the office. Staying active with your outside agents will be helpful in this regard.

Dave Hershman is Senior VP of Sales of Weichert Financial and the top author in the mortgage industry. Dave has published seven books, as well as hundreds of articles and is the founder of the OriginationPro Marketing System and Mortgage School – the online choice for expert mortgage learning and marketing content. His site is and he can be reached at


Selling Your Home During the Holidays? 7 Tips to Help Sell It Fast

November 30, 2020 December 14, 2020 by Julia Weaver

Updated on December 14th, 2020

Believe it or not, the holiday season can be a great time to sell your home. It’s true that the housing market typically heats up during the spring. However, the holiday season is often overlooked as a prime time to sell, especially this year. 

Why? First of all, there is typically less inventory in the housing market, allowing your home to easily stand out among the available inventory. And though there are technically fewer buyers overall, the homebuyers that are looking are far more serious about finding a home within a specific timeframe. So, make your home warm and inviting and open it up to those looking to buy, because selling your home during the holidays might be your best present this year. 

Selling your home during the holidays

Selling your home during the holidays

1) Stage for the holidays. Think clean, cozy, simple.

Yes, you should absolutely decorate your home during the holidays even if you are trying to sell it. The real question you should be asking is, how much

One thing that happens to all homeowners is that we tend to accumulate a lot of stuff. This is especially true of holiday decorations. As you begin decorating, channel your inner stager or designer. This year, for the sake of appealing to the buyers touring your home, use your best decorations as holiday accents without drawing attention away from your home’s best selling features.

Your home may have large windows with a great view or an expansive kitchen fit for a chef. Whatever sold you on your home when you first bought it is most likely the same feature(s) that will sell your home during the holidays. Don’t cover up your view with an excessively large Christmas tree and avoid filling your living room in snow globes, nutcrackers, and a large nativity scene. You want to accentuate your home with holiday decor, not bury it.

Holiday decor can help prospective homebuyers imagine your house as their future home. If you have a fireplace, decorate it with garland and hang stockings from the mantle. Use candles and essential oil diffusers with iconic scents of the season, such as pumpkin spice or balsam and cedar. You especially want to keep your home clutter-free and need to clean it regularly. Belongings can easily begin to pile up during the holidays, so make sure you stay on top of it. Create an environment that makes prospective homebuyers feel comfortable and warm the moment they walk through your front door. You want them to feel at home.

Consider working with a professional home stager to create the perfect holiday look to help your home stand out from the competition.

Selling your home during the holidays

Selling your home during the holidays

2) Price your home to sell 

You and your listing agent will most likely come up with a pricing strategy together based on comparable homes in the area, what the current housing market is doing, and what the demand for housing looks like or is projected to do. Ultimately, several variables go into pricing your home to sell, however, there are a couple of easy tricks that can help attract homebuyers.

Price your home competitively

If your home looks like all the other homes on the block with similar features, then a lower price point will definitely draw in more traffic than your rivals. However, if your home is the largest one on the block, has more acreage, or a double car garage and pool, you can price your home based on the increased value it provides. Check out online estimates for how much your home is worth and then compare them to other houses in your area.

Use strategic price points when listing your home

Have you ever noticed while you’re grocery shopping that almost all prices end in .99, such as $1.99 or $4.99? This simple manipulation of pricing is called setting strategic price points and actually makes the price of something appear smaller (or cheaper) than it really is. The same exact concept works when pricing your house to sell. For example, if you decide your home could sell for $500,000, pricing it at $499,000 can (theoretically) draw in more traffic and possibly more offers.

3) Make your curb appeal a top priority

Your neighborhood may actually look more appealing to homebuyers during the holiday season. You don’t want to go overboard with your exterior holiday decorations, but you want to make your house shine along with the other homes on your block.

During these winter days, your lawn may not be that lush green it usually is during the summertime and your trees may currently be barren. That’s why making your curb appeal a top priority is necessary when selling your home in winter. Make sure to pick up all the sticks, dead leaves, and any other debris and that your lawn is neatly trimmed. Even during the colder months, a few weeds that poke up from the ground can make your lawn seem neglected. If you have pictures of your home at alternative times of the year when your curb appeal is burgeoning with flora, these may also be a good idea to have available for homebuyers during home tours. This way, instead of homebuyers trying to picture your house in other seasons, they can just see it for themselves.

4) Keeping your property safe for homebuyers

Outside temperatures are well below freezing during the holiday season in most of the United States. Driveways and walking paths are blanketed in snow and ice, and icicles hang from gutters like glass curtains. A legitimate concern for home sellers in one of these colder climates is how to keep your property safe for homebuyers. The only thing you can really do is be proactive and break out that snow shovel and start clearing a path.

If you’re expecting snow on an almost weekly basis, then it might be best to hire out professionals to come by once a day and make sure your driveway, front steps, and any walking paths are cleared for people touring your home.

Yellow shovel for shoveling snow when selling your home during the holidays

Yellow shovel for shoveling snow when selling your home during the holidays

5) Turn on the (holiday) lights

To complement the coziness of your home, you’ll also want to make it bright. Turn on all the lights in your house during open houses and virtual home tours. It may be the darkest time of year outside but you can make sure it doesn’t feel that way inside your home.

This is a great time to replace burnt out light bulbs and fix light switches that aren’t working. You may also want to consider making all your interior lighting the same color temperature, such as a soft white which brightens rooms without giving you that institutional feel. This will help with consistent lighting throughout your home, creating a balanced feel as potential homebuyers walk through each room.

6) Take professional real estate photos when selling your home during the holidays

The best thing you can do for your house in terms of marketing it to potential homebuyers is getting professional real estate photos taken. In fact, research shows that professional photos can help sell your house faster and for more money. This is the one time you don’t want to have your holiday decor on display. In fact, getting your professional photos taken of your house before you decorate is a must because holiday decorations essentially create a time-stamp of your home. 

If you have trouble selling your home during the holidays be sure your house isn’t still rocking holiday lights in the listing photos come February or March, or you risk turning off potential homebuyers. Plan on hiring a professional photographer as soon as possible so you can decorate for the holidays and enjoy the season.

7) Get Santa’s perspective with aerial photography

It doesn’t matter if you live in sunny Tampa, FL, or buried in snow in Minneapolis, MN, consider aerial photography to help make your home stand out this holiday season. If your home has acreage, a view, or any other amenity that cannot be fully captured unless it’s done by air, then aerial photography may be just what you need. 

Drone photography offers buyers a unique perspective of your home and can help make your listing stand out among the other homes for sale online. It also gives potential buyers an overview of your neighborhood along with other amenities that may be within walking distance of your home.