Posted on

Don’t call it VA: Military Affiliate Virtual Assistant Network

Week 2 continuing our Onion Juice Podcast partnership with:

Episode 117 – MAVANs: Don’t call them VA’s. They’re so much more than that.

Leah Roe, MAVAN Network.Leah Roe is a well-connected woman. She’s in the Madison, WI area, and she spends lots of time giving back to the community.

When we first learned about the company she started, we new we had to tell her story. If you’re in real estate agent, DO NOT hire a virtual assistant until you hear this episode.

It’s a game-changer.

MAVAN: Military Affiliate Virtual Assistant Network

Best Real Estate Virtual Assistants: MAVAN Network.Leah said she had no intention of starting a business when she asked her sister to be her virtual assistant. Leah wanted to have a greater impact in her community through her work but realized she would need someone to help her handle all of the little details that seemed to eat up her day.

Her sister agreed to the position, and did such an outstanding job, Leah’s clients and connections started asking where they could hire a virtual assistant of such high caliber.

The result was the Military Affiliate Virtual Assistant Network.

MAVAN’s mission is to help military spouses reclaim or recreate their professional identities and help professionals increase their impact.

 

Identity + Impact

American Flag.The reality of being a military spouse means moving frequently, often with no control over the destination. Companies are often hesitant to hire military spouses, due to long onboarding processes and a high turnover rate.

Leah’s sister, Anna is a military spouse and has experienced all of these setbacks before becoming a virtual assistant.

As a MAVAN, Anna has been able to reclaim her professional identity, create another source of income for her family and be the ever-present parent that her children need.

The MAVANs Leah hires all have Master’s degrees and several years of business experience. This level of training ensures that each assistant is able to help professionals expand their business impact.

 

“Transformational” Relationships

Anna Machniak & Leah Roe, MAVAN Founders — and sisters!Leah says MAVAN creates relationships with impact-driven professionals that are “transformational, not just transactional.”

She looks for clients who want to connect with their assistants and help empower their careers.

For the MAVANs, working as a virtual assistant offers the chance to get excited about the work they are doing, provides career advancement opportunities and a community of like-minded individuals.

Leah creates these relationships by finding professionals and asking them what tasks are preventing them from making their biggest impact. Once she has a list of the tasks, she reaches out to the MAVAN network to see who is interested in that kind of work.

From there, she facilitates a conversation between the professional and the MAVAN.

 

Real estate agents & MAVANs

Like A Boss.As a real estate agent, your day may be filled with small tasks that are preventing you from making the biggest impact possible: scheduling showings, following up with clients, setting appointments, and managing your social media.

These things are valuable—until they prevent you from forming new relationships and acquiring new clients.

If you want to take your business to the next level, you should strongly consider hiring a MAVAN!

Listen to Leah Roe talk more about how she is helping impact-driven professionals on this outstanding Onion Juice episode!

 

Listen to the episode

 

Episode Outline

  • [4:00] The OJ has a new sponsor, Jason Frazier!
  • [9:30] Neil introduces guest Leah Roe, founder of MAVAN
  • [11:00] Leah explains the mission of MAVAN
  • [16:45] How professionals can impact the lives of military spouses
  • [20:15] What’s in it for MAVAN?
  • [23:00] How impact-driven professionals can use MAVAN

Resources & Links

Subscribe to The Onion Juice

Onion Juice Podcast on Apple Podcasts Onion Juice Podcast on Stitcher

Subscribe to The Onion Juice wherever you get your podcasts. And thanks for listening!

Posted on

Skip To My Loo – DIY Bathroom Renovations Ideas

Does your bathroom look amazing? As one of the most used rooms in every home, the bathroom can almost always use a bit of a facelift. In today’s blog post we will share a few DIY renovations that will take your bathroom from drab to fab.

Embrace A New Color Palette

One of the best ways to start your bathroom makeover is to figure out a new color palette for the room. Do you like soft, muted colors like a powder blue, light gold or cream? Or maybe something a bit louder and more exciting like a merlot red or deep purple? Whatever your taste, a splash of color might be just what your bathroom needs.

Start with a fresh coat of paint on the bathroom walls and work outwards from there. If you have windows, consider how you want the trim to contrast with the walls. Baseboards or molding can also offer contrasting effects, helping them to stand out more.

And of course, don’t forget to take care of the smaller bathroom accessories. Your shower curtain, hand towels and even your toothbrush cup can all be matched.

 

Take Your Fixtures To The Next Level

Once you have decided on colors, it is time to turn your attention to the fixtures around your bathroom. The towel racks, hooks, faucets, shower head and toilet paper holder should all match in some way. If you do not have a lot of cabinet space, investing in a mirror that includes storage might be the perfect solution. If you have items like a scale or plunger in plain sight, think on some creative ways to hide them.

Brighten Things Up With Better Lighting

While you do not need ‘selfie quality’ professional lighting in your bathroom, it might be time for a brighter, more efficient light fixture. Aim for a design that complements the rest of the accents in your bathroom while being large enough to cast a bright light. You can also spend a bit of time choosing the correct color temperature for your bathroom light bulbs. LED lighting can offer some bold whites, but be careful that you don’t go overboard.

Posted on

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 11, 2017

Last week’s economic reports included readings on projected top housing markets for 2018, weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. Labor sector readings on private-sector job growth, private and public-sector job growth and the national unemployment rate were released. Projected top housing markets in 2018 were also released.

Realtors Release Projections for Top Housing Markets in 2018

Prospective homebuyers and retirees facing home affordability issues in metro areas such as New York City and the West Coast are seeking affordable housing markets according to data released by the National Association of Realtors®.

The top three housing markets for 2018 are expected to be Las Vegas, Nevada with a median home price of $285.405 and expected annual price growth of 6.90 percent. Dallas Texas held second place with a median home price of $339,000 and expected annual home price growth of 5.60 percent. Deltona, Florida held the third position for top housing markets in 2018. Deltona is located between Daytona Beach and Orlando, Florida. Within the city of Deltona, home prices average $159,000 in Deltona and $275.000in the metro area. Home prices are expected to grow at an annual rate of 6.0 percent.

Home prices continue to be driven by low supplies of homes for sale. High demand is causing prices in many metro areas to rise to unaffordable levels/ Retirees who are no longer tied to pricey metro areas are moving to less costly neighborhoods.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates across the board. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose 0.04 basis points to 3.94 percent. 15-year fixed mortgage rates averaged 0.06 basis points higher at 3.36 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was 0.03 basis points higher for an average rate of 3.35 percent. Discount points average 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week, with 236,000 new claims filed against expectations of 240,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 238,000 new jobless claims filed. According to November’s federal Non-Farm Payrolls report, government and private sector payrolls grew by 228,000 jobs as compared to expectations of 200,000 new public and private sector jobs added and the prior month’s reading of 244,000 jobs added.

ADP reported 190,000 private-sector jobs added in November as compared to 235,000 new jobs added in October. The national unemployment rate held at 4.10 percent, which was the lowest level in almost 17 years.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic readings include releases on inflation, the Fed’s FOMC post-meeting statement, Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s press conference along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. If you’re interested in purchasing a new home, please be sure to reach out to your local Mason Mac loan officer today.

Posted on

‘Pine’-ing for a New Look? 3 Ways You Can Use Wood Features to ‘Spruce’ up Your Home

'Pine'-ing for a New Look? 3 Ways You Can Use Wood Features to 'Spruce' up Your HomeWhether you are renovating an older home or putting the finishing touches on a new one, you would be amiss if you did not consider how to include furniture and other items made of wood. With a diverse range of colors and textures, wooden features are a must-have for any modern home design. Let’s take a look at three ways that you can use wood to add a little spice to your home decor.

Try A Visually Striking Wood Wall

If you are looking to add some ‘pop’ to a room, consider an offset or patterned wall made of wood. Your options are limitless when it comes to adding wood to a wall. Consider horizontal slats with a lighter wood like pine for a warm, modern feel. Alternatively, try a flat wall made of hardwood boards of a darker color than the room’s paint.

Go Rustic With A Farmhouse Dining Table

Does your dining room feel a little boring with your standard table and chairs? A rustic farmhouse dining table is an excellent way to breathe some life into your dining area. In addition, hardwood tables like these are sturdy and can suffer a lot of punishment. They are the perfect choice for families that are used to hosting large dinners or having company over.

If you are so inclined, you can build a table like this in just a few hours. Search around online for plans and head down to your local hardware store to get things started.

Reclaim And Refinish For Timeless Beauty

Finally, give some thought as to how you can use reclaimed wood in your home. Consider replacing tile or linoleum with a some “rip and refinish” hardwood flooring reclaimed from another house. Or if you would rather have wooden furniture, you can get chairs or side tables that are made of reclaimed wood. If you are located near the coast or beach, look around for large pieces of driftwood that can be turned into furniture by a local tradesman. While we cannot help you choose your wooden furnishings, we can help you find the best mortgage for your new home to put them in. Please be sure to reach out to your local Mason Mac loan officer today if you’re interested.

Posted on

Real Estate Branding: Consumers, Commodities & Cameras

We are beyond excited to jumpstart our Onion Juice Podcast partnership with:

Episode 116 – Real Estate Branding

Most people think that branding consists of your logo and a slogan that you pitch on your website and social media.

Our very own CIO & Chief Strategy Officer, Jason Frazier, joins Neil Mathweg to talk about what branding really is, common misconceptions associated with branding and how real estate agents can build a strong brand that helps establish trust.

3 Pillars of Real Estate Branding

Do your customers choose your brand first? This question gets right to the heart of branding. Branding isn’t about logos or slogans.

Branding is about forming a relationship with your customers — a relationship where they know your brand, they like it and trust it. Jason says branding is “what consumers say to other consumers about your business.”

Do consumers know about you? If they do, do they like working with you? Lastly, but most important, do they trust you?

These are the three critical pillars of growing a successful real estate business. Listen to the rest of the conversation to hear more about building a strong brand!

Commodity vs. Brand

There has been a recent shift in how people approach buying and selling real estate. Everything looks the same, agents are all using the same techniques and pitches, companies are trying to feel more personal and individual agents think they need to look for corporate.

Essentially, the real estate industry is being commoditized.

Jason shares that a commodity just results in a simple transaction, but a brand creates an experience and a uniqueness that people will want to experience over and over.

Camera-first Branding

For a long time, “branding” referred to your logo and slogan or the print material your company produced. In today’s camera-first world, logos and slogans are hardly relevant anymore, certainly in the real estate world.

Consumers relate to people, not slogans.

Jason Frazier says “the about page on a realtor’s website is the second most visited page,” a sign that people care more about who they are working with than what the company logo looks like.

If you are a real estate agent publishing content, don’t worry about polishing the content or making everything perfect, your clients don’t care, I promise!

Publish content, be personal and vulnerable, and make mistakes…it will pay off in the end!

Real Estate Branding Tools & Tips

Unlike your video and social media content, there are a few things Jason Frazier says every real estate agent NEEDS to do.

Take the time to set up a professional email.

It’s easy for free mail services to be replicated by malicious parties posing as you, which can cause huge headaches and even potential scams directed at your clients.

I am not going to work with a mortgage lender whose email ends in @gmail.com. It’s risky sending personal information over those channels and it makes it harder to establish trust.”

Get your own website in addition to a corporate bio page.

This offers some flexibility regarding the look and feel, allows you to present your personal brand, and “travels” with you if you decide to leave that company.

Jason also introduces an amazing service called G Suite, that allows you to streamline your process if you have multiple domains and emails to keep track of.

Listen to the Podcast below:

Episode Outline

  • [7:45] Neil introduces Jason Frazier
  • [10:30] The 3 pillars of branding
  • [13:00] How a strong brand can help you build trust
  • [17:15] Commodity vs. brand
  • [21:15] Why your “about page” is the most important page on your website
  • [26:45] Adopt a professional approach
  • [30:30] Jason explains G Suite software

Resources and Links

Subscribe to The Onion Juice

Onion Juice Podcast on Apple Podcasts Onion Juice Podcast on Stitcher

Subscribe to The Onion Juice wherever you get your podcasts. And thanks for listening!

Posted on

Did You Know: Why New Construction Homes Are A Top Choice For Today’s Home Buyer

Did You Know: Why New Construction Homes Are A Top Choice For Today's Home BuyerAre you in the market for a new house? If so, you may have been comparing your options when it comes to open listings on the local market. One decision you will need to consider: do you want to purchase an existing home or build a new one? Let’s explore a few reasons why new construction homes are a popular choice for today’s home buyer.

A Home Designed (By You) With The Future In Mind

Ask anyone who has recently invested in a brand-new home, and many will share that all of the built-in technology was an essential factor. Today’s homes are designed with the future in mind. High-speed networking, better wireless connectivity, high-tech security and other features are all benefits that typically can’t be found in older homes.

Of course, don’t forget that you play a role in the design choices in a new construction home. It is your chance to design all of the features you would want in a dream house.

Energy And Cost Efficient

As you might imagine, homes constructed with modern designs and materials are vastly more energy than older homes. Tighter seals, better insulation and more efficient heating and cooling all translate to lower utility costs. Moreover, while the savings per day might seem small, over time, they add up. Leaving more money in your pocket for investment, saving or other purposes.

If you want to take it a step further, you may even decide to expand your new construction home with solar panels or other high-efficiency upgrades.

Less Maintenance Means More Free Time

Finally, you can sleep soundly knowing that a new construction home needs far less maintenance work than an older home. Of course, there will still be the occasional job that needs taking care of. So you will want to be diligent in fixing up any damage or issues that do occur so that the problem does not spread. But overall, you can expect to spend less of your free time repairing things and more of it relaxing and enjoying life.

These are just a few of the many great reasons to invest in a brand-new home. To learn more about financing a new construction home, please be sure to reach out to your local Mason Mac loan officer today. Our professional team is happy to discuss your needs.

Posted on

Downsizing? Here’s What You Can Expect When You Move From a House to a Condo

Downsizing? Here's What You Can Expect When You Move From a House to a CondoWhether the kids have moved out or you just aren’t using the extra bedrooms, having a house that feels ‘too big’ is rarely fun. In today’s post, we will share a few changes you can expect when you downsize from a large house to a smaller apartment or condo.

Why Downsize At All?

As you might imagine, having too much space is the primary reason that couples and families downsize. Larger homes cost more to maintain and can feel empty if it’s just one or two people living there. In many cases, old items and clutter tend to build up as there is so much storage space. Downsizing to a smaller home helps to maintain a lifestyle that is more efficient but no less luxurious.

Ask Yourself: Are You Ready?

Another consideration that you will need to make: are you ready to move? If you are retired from work, then you likely have enough time on your hands to manage a move. Conversely, if you and your spouse are both working full-time and live near your workplace, you may want to source a smaller home nearby.

Don’t forget that if you own the house you are living in now, this might mean having to list and sell it while buying your new home. This is a common situation and isn’t a significant problem, but it will require a bit of scheduling and financial planning.

The Hardest Part: Choosing What To Keep

Ask any couple or family that has downsized their home about the toughest part, and many will share that it was choosing what stays and what goes. When space is at a premium, everything from shoes to appliances needs to be considered.

Spend some time going through each room in your house, taking an inventory of what you have. Are there any family heirlooms or other emotional items that you can’t part ways with? After that, is there anything that will be usable in your new home? Everything else should be considered fair game. Sell it, donate it or toss it out.

Moving to a smaller home can seem challenging at first, but it is a lifestyle choice that can pay significant dividends. When you are ready to make a move, please be sure to reach out to your local Mason Mac loan officer today.

Posted on

Buying in 2018? Get Your Down Payment Ready Now by Tapping These Helpful Sources

Buying in 2018? Get Your Down Payment Ready Now by Tapping These Helpful SourcesAre you in the market for a new house or condo in 2018? With the new year just around the corner, now is the time to get all of your financial details in order. As you may know, buying a home is a significant financial transaction. But it all starts with your down payment, which is the lump sum that you invest in order to purchase the home. In today’s blog post we will share a few sources of funds that you can tap into for help saving up your down payment.

Peer Into Your Financial Future

A helpful first step is to map out your financial future. Do you have any lump-sum payments such as an annual bonus or a tax return coming up? If so, those are excellent sources of funds to help build up your down payment.

Put A Stop To Unnecessary Spending

Anytime you want to save money, an obvious step is to cut as much unnecessary spending as you can. Invest the time in creating a strict monthly budget which includes setting money aside for your down payment. Be sure to watch for any daily habits that are eating away at your savings, such as high-priced specialty coffees or eating out regularly.

Research Local Homebuyer Assistance Programs

Don’t forget that you’re not alone in your quest for home ownership. There are numerous federal, state and municipal homebuyer assistance programs that offer financial help when buying a home. Your local real estate professional will be happy to share some insight.

Check In With Your Employer

Finally, don’t forget to check in with your employer to see if there are any home ownership grants or subsidies. Down payment and home-buying assistance programs are becoming more popular with companies as an extra perk to offer employees. Send a quick email or stop by the human resources department to let them know you’re in the market for a home and to see if any programs are on offer. If your workplace does have a program like this, it’s the perfect time to take advantage.

Having your down payment funds ready will make the buying process faster and show your mortgage lender that you’re prepared for home ownership. For more information, contact your trusted mortgage professionals. We’re happy to share some amazing listings that perfectly suit your needs.

Posted on

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 4, 2017

Last week’s economic releases included readings on new and pending home sales, Case-Shiller index readings for September, and construction spending. Weekly readings on new jobless claims and mortgage rates were also released.

Home Price Growth Driven by Shortage of Homes for Sale

Case-Shiller Home Price Indices reported 6.20 percent growth in home prices year-over-year in September as compared to August’s reading of 6.00 percent year-over-year growth for August. September’s reading was the highest for national home price growth since 2014.

According to the 20-City Home Price Index, Seattle, Washington held on to first position with 12.90 percent home price growth year-over-year. Analysts noticed that the month-to-month reading for Seattle home prices dipped by 0.30 percent, which could indicate that home price growth may be cooling. Las Vegas, Nevada achieved second position for home price growth with a year-over-year reading of 9.00 percent. San Diego, California held third position with year-over-year home price growth of 8.20 percent.

High demand for homes coupled with the low inventory of homes for sale continued to drive home prices up in 16 of 20 cities charted in Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index.

New and Pending Home Sales Rise in October

Sales of new homes rose to 685,000 on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis to their highest reading in 10 years. The reading for new home sales year to date rose by 8.90 percent as compared to the same period in 2016. Analysts expected a reading of 620,000 new home sales as compared to September’s revised reading of 645,000 new homes sold. As of October, there was a 4.90 months supply of new homes for sale, as compared to September’s 5.20 months supply of new homes on the market.

The Commerce Department reported 3.50 percent growth in pending home sales in October as compared to September’s negative reading of -0.40 percent. In a further sign of confidence in housing markets, construction spending rose by 1.40 percent in October as compared to September’s reading of 0.30 percent and analysts” expectation of an increase of 0.40 percent in construction spending.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims

Mortgage rates were mixed last week with average rates for fixed rate mortgages dropping two basis points. A 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.90 percent; rate; rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.30 percent and rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose two basis points to 3.32 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims dipped by 2000 new claims to 238,000 initial claims filed. Analysts expected new jobless claims to hold steady at the prior week’s reading of 240,000 new claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include ADP payrolls, and Commerce Department readings on Farm Payrolls and the national unemployment rate. Consumer sentiment will be updated next week along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. If you’re currently in the market for a new home, please be sure to reach out to your local Mason Mac loan officer today.

Posted on

Win the Bidding War With Our 5 Minute Guide to Making an Offer the Seller Won’t Refuse

Win the Bidding War With Our 5 Minute Guide to Making an Offer the Seller Won't RefuseAsk any experienced homeowner and you’ll learn that buying in a ‘hot’ real estate market can be challenging. A high supply of buyers competing for a low stock of available homes is a combination that can lead to bidding wars, price inflation, and other headaches. The good news: with some careful preparation and the right mindset, a bidding war is one that you can win. Read on to learn how you can beat out other bidders by making an irresistible offer.

Start With Strong Representation

Answer this question honestly: are you an experienced negotiator? Unless you have made a career out of buying and selling homes, you may find that your skills are lacking. The middle of a bidding war is a poor time to have this realization, so it’s best to start the process with strong professional representation. Invest the time in securing the services of an experienced real estate agent who has a history of successful home purchases and happy clients. We can recommend an excellent resource for you.

Get Pre-Approved For Your Mortgage Financing

Now that you have a good real estate agent on your side, you’ll want to move to the next step: meeting with a mortgage lender. Your goal is to secure pre-approval for your mortgage financing, which will show the seller that you’re both prepared and serious about buying their home. Gather up recent financial information like pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements before meeting with a mortgage professional. Being prepared will make the approval process a bit easier.

Have The Appraisal And Inspection Team Ready

Once you have found your dream home, you will need to move quickly to have it appraised and inspected. As with your other professionals, it’s best to pre-book these companies ahead of time so they’re ready to go. Ask your friends and family for referrals now so you can chat with potential appraisers and inspectors.

Be Serious About A Quick Closing Process

Finally, if it isn’t already obvious to them, make it clear to the seller that you’re interested in closing quickly. Every home seller is interested in a fast, efficient close so they can move on. Pushing the pace a bit will demonstrate that you’re not going to reverse course.

When you are ready to buy your dream home, please be sure to reach out to your local Mason Mac loan officer today.