5 Staging Mistakes – Great Article from Trulia

5 Staging Mistakes Sellers Think Are Awesome —and How to Change Their Minds

 

Nowhere in life is the old adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder truer than in real estate. One woman’s dream home might be a mid-century modern, Mad Men styled contemporary, while another’s includes all the gingerbread charm of a classic Victorian. But when it comes to prepping a home to be viewed and (fingers crossed!) sold, there is both art and science to staging a home before its listed to maximize its appeal to the broadest number of target buyers.

The challenge is this: staging is an investment, one every seller can’t afford to make (although studies have shown professionally staged homes sell faster and for more than non-staged counterparts). So many sellers take it on as a do-it-yourself project which, like all DIY home improvement projects, can be fantastic or, mmm, not—depending on the approach, skill, and resources of the ‘self’ who does it.

Here are a few common scenarios in which sellers think their staging is awesome and buyers, well, beg to differ. Plus, check out the tactful things agents can say to help get sellers back on track:

Love these tips? Share this helpful handout with clients.

  1. The sellers used beat up or ugly furnishings and decor.

Great staging—DIY or professional—includes choosing furniture that shows the home off in its best light, and positioning the furnishings optimally, too. Sometimes this can be done using certain pieces of the seller’s furniture. Other times, furniture must be rented or otherwise obtained. One area in which budget-minded sellers like to save money on staging is by finding cheaper alternatives than renting new furniture from a staging company or store.

In this era of Craigslist, eBay, Freecycle, estate sales and other peer-to-peer online stores and trading sites, there is an abundance of access to used furniture at great prices. I have no bone to pick with the smart sellers who use these tools to replace their own furniture with something that is in better condition, more attractive or a smaller scale than their own, so as to highlight how much space their home truly offers. That said, using old, floral sofas from Craigslist’s Free Section, unattractive thrift store ‘artwork’ or even their own truly worn out, old furniture is a recurring reason buyers cite for focusing on how bad the staging is vs. the house itself.

What’s worse, the furnishings a seller might think was THE BEST BARGAIN EVER might actually give the nice home a worn-down, unkempt feel to the buyers who come to see it.

How to help your sellers: Have a consistent message throughout the process of staging. Clean and simple typically highlight a space. Before letting sellers go to town on the staging, show them examples of a beautifully staged home and one that’s not so great. The visual examples can help get your message across better than simply talking it through.

  1. They created distracting themes and scenes.

My friend Barb Schwarz is the head of the International Home Staging Professionals Association; she defines staging as ‘preparing a home for sale so the buyer can mentally move in.’ The goal is for buyers to visualize the new-and-improved versions of their lives that the home will help them realize, so some pro stagers will set up objects to communicate the lifestyle activities that a home facilitates. It’s not bizarre to see a breakfast table and chairs on the patio of a home with lovely views, a crib and baby gear-vignette in a small room suitable for a nursery, or a popcorn maker and recliners to show off a media room’s theater-readiness.

Occasionally, though, these scenes and vignettes can go rogue, creating borderline bizarre scenarios that distract and detract more than they help.

A beach scene (ball, umbrella and all) in a midwestern bedroom, a lively Parisian mural and Eiffel tower replica in a California condo and bizarre collections (taxidermy, anyone?) are all real-life examples of staging scenes that have done more harm than good.

  1. The house is neither clean nor clutter-free.

For various reasons, some homes just take time to sell. And if a client is living in a home that is on the market for long, it can be challenging to ensure it is perfectly pristine at all times, meaning every single time a buyer enters it. And it doesn’t take a truly filthy house to turn a buyer’s impression of a home from awesome to awful. The little messes that a family accumulates through daily living can be perceived by buyers as distracting at best—disgusting, at worst.

If the home is well staged, do not underestimate the power of piles of clothes, mail, paperwork, dishes or kids’ toys to deactivate the home-selling power of all the hard work and money that went into preparing the property in the first place.

How to help your sellers: Make sure your clients understand that you know how challenging this situation can be. Empathize with them, but also consider working out a referral coupon or discount with a local cleaning service. A weekly cleaning during the 30-60 day showing period, especially with a generous discount, can be well worth the cost, and show sellers that you get it, and you’re on their side.

  1. There are glaring gaps.

Sometimes a home’s staging leaves a glaring gap, an elephant in the room house, so to speak. This often happens when sellers run out of time and money to prepare a place, but it can be avoided through smart advance planning and budgeting for the pre-listing property preparation.

How to help your sellers:

  • Rooms—Listen, I personally live in a house that is beautiful everywhere until you poke your head into my young adult son’s room. So I can relate to these sellers. This situation might be okay to live with, but it’s a real home staging fail for a property that’s on the market. Remind sellers not to let there be one or two rooms that it looks like the stager—or house cleaner—missed. And this goes for the garage, closets, cupboards and drawers, too. Buyers like to look inside these areas to see how much space they have—if they are crammed full of junk, it creates the impression that the house lacks storage and order.
  • Exterior vs. interior—Some homes have amazing curb appeal, but look like they’ve been run over roughshod on the inside. And the opposite is true: some look like Martha Stewart handled the inside and junk man extraordinaire Fred Sanford was in charge of the yard. Neither of these is ideal. Again, here a visual tour can help. Make note of the most budget-friendly or simple-to-do projects that may be able to help remedy any eyesores.
  • Multi-sensory gaps—If a home is beautiful to the eye but smells bad, is strangely hot or cold, or has a noise issue (think: neighbors’ music, freeway noise or strange in-house creaks or whirrs), buyers might appreciate the visuals but fixate on the multi-sensory challenges. Especially if there are pets, sellers may need a gut check on whether your home is smelly—sellers might be so used to it, that they can’t sense it anymore. Here, honesty is the best policy. If you have a super smelly property and don’t want to offend the seller, you may want to consider bringing in a stager for a consultation (use someone who you have a good relationship with and often send referrals to). After they look around, have them write notes for the seller. The third party perspective can help get the point across without causing tension within your client/agent relationship.
  1. The seller lacked a neutral, expert eye.

Home decorating and home staging are two different things. When an owner decorates a home, they customize it with your specific tastes, preferences and aesthetics in mind. When staging it, the goal is to neutralize the home’s look and feel so it appeals to more buyers and doesn’t have turn-off potential.
Schwarz puts it this way: ‘Decorating a home is personalizing it. Staging a home is depersonalizing it.’

I cannot count the number of beautifully decorated homes I’ve seen where the seller must have thought they needed to do zero staging, and where the seller was simply wrong. Their very personal tastes in Elvis quilt art, red lacquer furnishings or sewing machine collections had been beautifully executed for them, but also were so highly personal, so very specific that it was near-impossible for a buyer to envision their own lives or families or homes or activities taking place in that space.

This is one reason I—and every agent should—encourage even sellers who are on a tight budget and can’t afford pro staging and sellers whose homes that have been beautifully decorated to at least have a home staging consultation with their agent and a professional stager. These pros can call out little ‘edits’ (furniture or decor items you should remove) and give advice about what buyers love and hate to see in a home that clients might be able to execute yourself at a surprisingly low cost.

Tell us! What is one the biggest staging missteps you have seen (or made!)?

 

I read this article at: http://www.trulia.com/pro/sellers/5-staging-mistakes-sellers-think-awesome-change-mind/

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Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

 

Rush to Buy Homes During the Holidays? YES YES YES!

Rush to Buy Homes During the Holidays?

 

Home owners may be doubtful that the months of November and December will bring about a home sale. After all, aren’t potential buyers sidetracked with the holidays and likelier to postpone their house hunt due to bad weather and shorter days?

But sometimes the “off-peak” time to sell can actually be the perfect moment for sellers. Several studies show that, on average, homes listed in November and December are more likely to sell, sell more quickly, and more closely approach the asking price, according to an article at Forbes.com.

A 2011 study conducted by realtor.com® found that 60 percent of real estate professionals advise their sellers to list a home during the holidays because they believe it’s an opportune time to sell. Nearly 80 percent of the real estate professionals surveyed said that more serious buyers emerge during the holidays, and 61 percent say less competition from other properties makes it an ideal time to sell.

Thanksgiving is particularly good, the article notes. Buyers may have held out through the busy summer months hoping to find a better deal, but now they may be searching with increased urgency. Some buyers may be motivated to close before the end of the year for tax purposes. They can purchase a home late in the year to deduct home purchase costs on their taxes, such as points, interest, and property taxes. Also, certain sellers who sold their homes during the summer season may be facing a capital gains tax. They may be highly motivated to buy in November to avoid paying capital gains tax (since closing on the purchase of another house is required within 180 days).

Source: “Why November Is the Best Month to Sell Your Home,” Forbes.com/Trulia (Nov. 14, 2014) 

 

Considering a sale – call us – The Caton Team has a wonderful marketing plan for you – 650-568-5522 or email me at Info@TheCatonTeam.com

 

I read this article at: http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2014/11/17/rush-buy-homes-during-holidays?om_rid=AACmlZ&om_mid=_BUaky7B89pUcTC&om_ntype=RMODaily

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

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Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

 

Here’s What Happens to Your Data After You Die???

As I was checking my email I came across this article and thought I would share it – sorry it is a bit morbid, but in this day in age – the digital age – there is more to our legacy than just a last will and testament.  I thought this would be good for individuals and families planning ahead and for those handling estates.  I wish you all the best in health in life. – SC

Here’s What Happens to Your Data After You Die???

A couple of years ago. I logged on to one of my many social network accounts and encountered a familiar face under the People You May Know section: Emru Townsend.

Emru was indeed someone I knew. A talented writer, a good friend, and a true mensch, beloved by many. He was also dead. He had succumbed to leukemia a few years earlier at the age of 39.

Yet there he was, smiling at me just like he did in life. But it wasn’t just a social media account that survived Emru. There’s his personal blog, where he recounted in sometimes-painful detail his battle against cancer, and his professional one, featuring some of the hundreds of articles he wrote on technology and animation. There’s his Flickr account, featuring photos of him in the hospital. There’s the site his family set up in an effort to find a stem cell donor, which ultimately proved unsuccessful. Today, nearly seven six years to the day of Emru’s passing, he still receives email at his pobox.com account, maintained by his widow, Vicky.

In addition to leaving a mark on everyone he met, Emru also left a footprint on the Internet, which his family struggled to deal with because they did not have access to all of his accounts.

This is a problem all of us on the Internet will encounter eventually, whether we want to think about it or not.

What can go wrong? Lots. Your loved one may have died leaving photos and videos behind that you can’t get to. He may have locked essential financial or other information away with passwords and not left those with you. She may have online financial accounts with money or credits leftover, or social media accounts that continue to generate painful reminders of her absence.

And, each year, the personal information of more than 2.5 million dead people is abused by identity thieves, according to ID Analytics.

Data of the dead
So you want to deal with this now, before you die and leave your family a mess of locked-down digital assets. There are three key things you need to do, says Evan Carroll, co-author of Your Digital Afterlife.

  1. Make an inventory of all your digital assets. That includes the documents on your computer, the photos on your phone, any data stored on thumb drives or backup disks, and every online account, including the ones you no longer use. It’s a big job, but you don’t have to do it all at once, Carroll says. Start with the most important things and work your way down the list. Odds are your primary email account will be number one, since that’s typically where online accounts send password resets. Keep reading for advice on where to store this data.
  2. Figure out what you want to happen to all of this stuff after you’re gone. Do you want your family to have access to all your emails? How about photos? Videos and other material you’ve downloaded? There may be some things you don’t want your loved ones to see. Decide now, and make your wishes known to those you care about.
  3. Assign someone to be your digital executor. Be explicit in your will about what you want to happen to your assets. Don’t assume your survivors automatically have a right to it all, because the law varies greatly from state to state, Carroll says. On his blog, The Digital Beyond, he offers some sample power-of-attorney language to include in your will.

And if like more than half of all Americans you don’t have a will, it’s time to whip one up. Will-making software starts around $30, and some extremely simple last-will-and-testament templates are available online for free.

Things to do on Google when you’re dead
You also want to take a look at your online accounts. Of all the major online service providers, only Google lets you plan for the inevitable ahead of time. Using the innocuously named “Inactive Account Manager,” you can designate a beneficiary who will inherit access to any or all of your Google accounts after a specified period of inactivity (the default is three months).

The beneficiary will then have an additional three months to download your data before it gets pulled offline for good. You can even set up an auto-responder from the grave, so to speak, to alert emailers of your passing.

Facebook is probably the next best at this, though your options are more limited. Once a family member has passed, you can ask the network to either delete the account or “memorialize” it, essentially freezing it in time but removing it from features like birthday reminders or People You May Know. You’ll have to provide proof of death via certificate or a published obituary, however. And if you want to download content from the account, you’ll need to obtain a court order.

As for the other main social accounts, some allow you to request that a deceased person’s account be closed, once you provide proof of their demise. Others are totally silent on the matter. LinkedIn makes it pretty easy to delete a dead member’s profile; you can fill out a DocuSign form, digitally sign it, and email it in. There’s no way to preserve any blog posts or other material your loved one has shared, however.

You can ask Twitter to close the account of a deceased family member, but you’ll have to mail it paper copies of your ID, the death certificate, a copy of the obituary (if you have one), and proof that the account actually belongs to the decedent if his Twitter handle doesn’t match his legal name. If you want to remove images of your loved one posted by others, you can request that by emailing privacy@twitter.com (but Twitter makes no guarantees it will honor every request).

Sadly, Yahoo’s death policy is rather stark. It will delete the account upon request and presentation of the death certificate. There are no options to download your loved one’s email, blog posts, or photos, nor can you create a memorial. According to Yahoo’s official policy statement, this is an effort to honor the original privacy choices of the deceased.

Still, that’s better than Amazon or Apple, which offer no way to officially close an account post mortem. (An Amazon spokesperson says you can close the account of a deceased family member by contacting Amazon customer support.) Worse, you can’t bequeath any of the music, videos, ebooks, and other digital materials a deceased customer paid for. That’s because you don’t actually buy these things, you license them; your right to them expires when you do.

Grave matters
As a practical matter, the best way to ensure that your digital assets pass into the right hands is to share them and your login data before you shuffle off this mortal coil.

(This may violate some terms of service agreements, but why should you care? You’ll be dead.)

Don’t insert login information into your will, advises Carroll; those documents usually become part of the public record, allowing any stranger to gain access to your accounts. Instead, indicate a secure place where your digital executor can find them, like a safe deposit box or an encrypted file in a service like SecureSafe.

PasswordBox’s Legacy Locker offers another option. This password manager lets you designate a “digital heir” who will inherit access to your Password Box account — and, by extension, all the logins contained in it. It can also store your credit card, driver’s license, and membership card data and let you securely share your logins before you kick. The advantage here is that if your passwords change or you add accounts, your information is always up to date.

What happens if PasswordBox goes belly-up before you do? The company has secured enough funding and cloud storage to maintain users’ account data “for years to come,” a company spokesperson says.

Whatever you choose to do, start doing it now. Because you never know if your next log-in will be your last.

“Death is the final log off,” Carroll says. “You don’t have the opportunity to go back and fix it.”

 

I read this article at:  https://www.yahoo.com/tech/heres-what-happens-to-your-data-after-you-die-101447039569.html?soc_src=mags

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

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Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

COUNTY BANS SMOKING IN YOUR OWN HOME

COUNTY BANS SMOKING IN YOUR OWN HOME

Paul Stewart, SAMCAR Governemnt Affairs Director

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors has voted 4-1 to enact a second hand smoking ordinance that, among requirements, bans smoking in ownership units. Only Supervisor Don Horsley stood up for private property rights. Irrespective of one’s stance on smoking, imagine having to tell a buyer who just paid $862,000 for a townhome—which for purposes of illustration is 20% less than the median price of a home in San Mateo County—that they are barred from smoking (or performing any other legally allowed activity) in their own home? Now you will.

What was exempted:

  • Detached, single-family residences.
  • Detached, single-family homes with a detached or attached in-law or second units (approved pursuant to code)

What was NOT exempted:

  • Townhomes – whether owned or rental.
  • Condominiums – whether owned or rental.
  • Apartments

The ordinance will be enforced by the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department and the San Mateo County Health Department and is designed as a ‘complaint driven’ regulation (i.e., incidents of people smoking in their own home will be investigated only when neighbors complain; smokers will supposedly not be under surveillance by the Sheriff’s Department or the Health Department.)

How the voting emerged:

  • Supervisor Carole Groom has supported the ordinance as proposed since its introduction. She made the motion to approve.
  • Supervisor Tissier noted that when she met with SAMCAR, she noted the key was consistency in the application of the regulations… and that she prefers consistency “the other way and supports adoption of the ordinance as presented.” (She also seconded Groom’s motion.)
  • Supervisor Slocum stated the notion of private property rights is important but “I am swayed by the testimony of the health hazards (of second hand smoke) and can support the ordinance as proposed.”
  • Supervisor Pine said he favors the ordinance as proposed but was struggling with the ownership issue. He added that owners (townhomes & condos) who are troubled by smokers cannot move as easily as renters, so such activity “actually has impact outside your private property.”

Gratitude on this issue goes to President-Elect Michael Verdone, Peninsula Government Affairs Committee Chair Michelle Velez, SAMCAR stalwart Tom Thompson and TCAA GAD Rhovy Lyn Antonio, who were present at SAMCAR’s meetings with the Supervisors on the prohibition of smoking in a person’s own home.

 

I read this article at: https://www.samcar.org/posts/county-bans-smoking-in-your-own-home-264.htm

 

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Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

 

What Does Name “Drysdale” Mean

Our CEO announced our new DBA will be Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices | Drysdale Properties – and we all wondered what it meant.  Well, now that I know the meaning – I am proud be to a Drysdale.  The meaning truly falls in line with The Caton Team and our business ethics.

 

What Does Name “Drysdale” Mean

 

You are strong in material matters, determined and stubborn. You have good business ability. You are a good worker, steady and practical, a builder who takes responsibility well. These qualities may bring you a position of authority and power. You are a doer, down-to-earth, serious-minded, reliable, and self-disciplined; have good power of concentration. You are inventive, intuitive and extremely methodical. Since your will is so strong, you are hard to convince. You also dislike advice. You love beauty and philosophy, and you desire achievement. You have a strong need for freedom – physical, mental and spiritual.

You are very intuitive. You have a reservoir of inspired wisdom combined with inherited analytical ability, which could reward you through expressions of spiritual leadership, business analysis, marketing, artistic visions, and scientific research. Operating on spiritual side of your individuality can bring you to the great heights, and drop you off if you neglect your spiritual identity. You are always looking for an opportunity to investigate the unknown, to use and show your mental abilities, to find the purpose and meaning of life. You want to grow wise and to understand people and things. You need privacy to replenish your energy. You have a unique way of thinking, intuitive, reflective, absorbing.

I read this at: http://www.sevenreflections.com/name/drysdale

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Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

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Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

 

A Cinderella Story…. Russ and Natalie’s 5 Month Wait for Their Home

This past year has been very competitive for home buyers at every price point on the San Francisco Peninsula.  Then again, it’s been a competitive housing market since the we hit bottom back in ’09.

I recall in 2006 when my husband and I bought our first place, a one bedroom condo in Foster City, prices were moving up fast.  As a Realtor and first time buyer on a budget, I knew that if my husband and I didn’t buy soon we’d be priced out of the market…including condos.  Then there was the crash and poof….prices started falling.

By 2009 homes prices had fallen as low as they could go and people were starting to feel confident in investing in real estate again.  That’s when Russ and Natalie, who had just had twins, needed a home.  We started our journey together and it quickly became evident – they weren’t the only people buying homes in the Bay Area.  I feel like a broken record in 2012 when I say – they wrote a whole bunch of offers back then and got out bid by higher offers, offers with larger down payments or cash offers with quick timing.  It was tough.  Susan and I take the punches with each client when they don’t get an offer accepted.  Yet Russ and Natalie were troopers, got up, dusted off and got back on the horse.  Sue and I truly wanted to hand them the keys to their first home before the twins started to walk.  And they were starting to walk!

Around Thanksgiving a home that was previously pending came back on the market. It was a tricky short sale that fell apart.  As they can do.  We showed it as soon as we could.  Russ and Natalie were so great about being open to possibilities, ready to get their hands dirty and build some “sweat equity”.  They saw the possibilities this particular home had to offer.  It’s funny. I know the home you think you will buy and the home you actually buy are often very different.  Each buyers journey is unique.  I know my first time buying was not at all what I expected.

Anyway, I digress.  It was the holidays and had this home popped on the market any other week – maybe we would have been outbid.  Instead Russ and Natalie wrote a terrific offer and with the help of The Caton Team their offer was accepted.

That’s when the hard work really starts on a short sale property.  The Caton Team was very fortunate to work with Shirley Krause, whom represented the seller during what proved to be an almost 6 month group effort.

It’s a long wait – for everyone – when buying or selling a short sale.  Just around the twins birthday in the Spring Susan and I had the pleasure of handing the keys to Russ and Natalie.  Yes, they waited 5 months to get their house!

Moral of this Cinderella Story, don’t give up. Not now. Not if you want to call our gorgeous San Francisco Bay Area home sweet home.  So now as the malls fill up with shoppers and homes are sitting on the market ignored – give us a call – you never know the possibilities until you try.

Thank you Russ and Natalie for working with The Caton Team.  Here is to many happy years in your lovely home.

Happy Holidays!

Curious about my own buying and selling experiences?  Although I am a Realtor by trade, I’m no different than you when sitting in the buyer or seller seat.  Enjoy my journey through homeownership at: http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina