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A 12-week Year....a unique way of goal-setting we all can use!

by Adam Watkins

     And just like that, a New Year has begun!!!  Our team couldn't be more excited about the possibilities that a new year brings, and we couldn't be more thankful for the blessings that our loyal friends and clients brought us over the course of 2017.  If I could sum up 2017 in one word, it would be: "change."  If there was anything that 2017 taught me, it was that change is ever-present - and there are seasons in our lives where the changes are more acute than at other times (at least it was for me in 2017).  Change can be incredibly productive, though, as it forces us to adapt and search for new normals, improve our skills, and deepen our faith.  With that said, I'm looking forward to the "promise" of 2018 and anticipating more opportunities to embrace change and grow!

     Our team customarily meets in late November/early December to review the year that is closing and make plans for the upcoming year.  This year was no different as we gathered our agents and full-time staff in our conference room to review the year's "Hits and Misses" - both as a team and individually.  This practice allows us to determine what elements of our business need renewed focus and improvement as well as identifying the areas that went well and making sure to preserve them.  Each team member gets an opportunity to look ahead and develop goals for the upcoming year as well.  For this year's planning session, we applied a new concept called "The 12-Week Year." Amelia and I discovered this concept while reading Buffini & Company Magazine - an industry publication produced by the company of real estate entrepreneur and industry guru, Brian Buffini.  The concept presented in the article was developed by Brian Moran, the founder and CEO of The Execution Company, which is a consultant to Fortune 1000 companies who hope to boost growth and productivity.  I'm including extended, edited excerpts from that article to help explain the concept.  Its very simple to understand and applicable to any business or personal endeavor.

     The idea behind "The 12 Week Year" is periodization, a concept utilized by the U.S. Cycling Team in which athletes train in four-to-six week cycles that focus on one aspect of cycling, such as sprinting or hill climbing, instead of trying to improve everything at once.  After each cycle, there's time for rest and recovery before moving on to the next skill or discipline.  Moran felt this concept could be applied to business, as well as other areas.  Many businesses and people make the mistake of trying to be great at everything at once.  Often, instead of achieving greatness, they become overwhelmed and lose sight of their goals.  The fact is, every week/day/moment counts! We need to be conscious of the reality that execution happens daily and weekly, not monthly or quarterly.  It [the concept] is simple: focus on improving a skill or achieving a goal for 12 weeks and, on the 13th week take time to recover.  Instead of setting annual goals, create company wide and departmental goals to achieve during each 12 week period.  Then post these goals where they can be seen and recommit to them each day.

     If you want to change your actions, start with your thinking.  The 12-Week Year is organized to help you change the way you think, and eventually the way you act.  Your thinking influences your actions and your actions impact your results.  When you change your thinking, your actions will begin to realign and you'll start to experience breakthrough results.  One of the biggest reasons people don't reach their goals is they try to achieve them over a long period of time - often, 12 months. No wonder it's so easy to lose the motivation to achieve them! The beauty of working in 12-week sprints is it creates a sense of urgency to take action in a brief time span that allows you to get everything done while maintaining your  motivation.  Instead of procrastinating or quitting when it gets tough, you'll continue to have the motivation to focus on the execution.  The results will be more pronounced and will show in the increased amount of things you get done each day.  [Think of life as a] series of sprints.  You'll get more done working in focused bursts than you will by working continuously with no breaks.  Change your thinking and start working in 12-week intervals and you'l be amazed by how much you can accomplish.     

     This concept resonated so strongly with me personally as it's something I have applied with success (without knowing it) to my personal health and fitness journey that began in 2014 and continues now 4 years later!  It was exciting to introduce the principle to our team, and by the end of the team planning session all who participated had outlined an area of focus for the 12 weeks that began January 1st and inscribed their goal on large sheets of paper which are hung in our conference room for each team member to continually see.  In fact, they are placed in direct eye sight of each team member along the walls based on where each team member traditionally sits for our staff meetings.  This will keep the goals at the top of our minds, and provide an opportunity for accountability to occur as each week as a report on that plan of action will be given by each team member. 

     You may find the 12-Week Year method applicable to your own business or personal life.  It certainly isn't limited to real estate but transcends to a variety of areas that you may have "resolved" to address as a new year begins.  Brian Moran has written a book entitled "The 12 Week Year," that you may wish to check out or order.  More information is available at 12weekyear.com. Our team is looking forward to seeing the results of this fresh approach and how these plans translate to serving our clients and friends better than ever in 2018!!!

5 Tips to Keep Your Pipes From Exploding This Winter

by Houselogic

New homeowners may have heard that winterization is important, but in the hubbub of your first year living in a home you own (finally!), it can be easy to overlook the need to prepare for the cold weather ahead. After all, it’s just not something renters deal with; prepping pipes for winter is often the landlord’s job.

Ideally, you should winterize your pipes in the fall, before winter seriously sets in. But if you’ve forgotten and all of a sudden you’re in the middle of a deep freeze, there’s still time to prevent disaster.

Here are some easy techniques to save your pipes from bursting:

#1 Turn On Your Faucets

If the temperatures have dropped into freezing and intend to stay there, turning on your faucets — both indoors and out — can keep water moving through your system and slow down the freezing process. There’s no need to waste gallons of water: Aim for about five drips per minute.

#2 Open Cabinet Doors

During cold weather, open any cabinet doors covering plumbing in the kitchen and bathroom. This allows the home’s warm air to better circulate, which can help prevent the exposed piping from freezing. While this won’t help much with pipes hidden in walls, ceilings, or under the home, it can keep water moving and limit the dangerous effects of freezing weather.

#3 Wrap Your Pipes

If your pipes are already on their merry way towards freezing, wrapping them with warm towels might do the trick. You can cover them with the towels first and then pour boiling water on top, or use already-wet towels — if your hands can stand the heat (use gloves for this). This should help loosen the ice inside and get your system running again.

#4 Pull Out Your Hairdryer

A hairdryer (or heat gun) can be a godsend when your pipes are freezing. If hot rags aren’t doing the trick, try blowing hot air directly on the pipes. Important note: You don’t want to use a blow torch or anything that produces direct flames, which can damage your pipes and turn a frozen pipe into an even worse disaster. You’re trying to melt the ice — not your pipes.

#5 Shut Off The Water if Pipes Are Frozen

Have your pipes already frozen? Turn off the water immediately. (Hopefully you know where the master shut-off is, but if not, now’s the time to find it!)

Make sure to close off any external water sources, like garden hose hookups. This will prevent more water from filling the system, adding more ice to the pile, and eventually bursting your pipes — the worst-case scenario. This also will help when the water thaws; the last thing you want after finally fixing your frozen pipes is for water to flood the system — and thus, your home.

6 Near-Genius Ways to Fool Burglars that You're Home

by Houselogic

Your home: You love it, but sometimes you have to leave it.

Whether it’s the eight hours a day or eight days on a dreamy beach, allowing your biggest investment to fend for itself can be stressful. And it’s a legit concern; when your home looks empty, break-ins happen. A lot. Ugh.

You could deter burglars by never leaving your house again. Or you could do the next best (OK, way better) thing, and just make it look like someone is there all the time. Here’s how.

#1 Light Up a Room (From the Road)

Your parents may still rely on their lighting timer — on at 8 p.m., off at 7 a.m. That old-fashioned option still works, but apps are more fun. They not only turn your lights on and off, but can do so randomly for a more realistic effect. And you can decide to flip on your porch light while sipping a mojito in Fiji.

You can Google your options, but one affordable example is the Lutron Caséta Wireless system (about $80 for the device and $55 per switch). You replace your current wall switches with these wireless ones and “talk” to your lights from afar.

#2 Fake a Netflix Binge

Nothing says “we are definitely home” like the colorful glare of a television dancing in the window.

Put the little FakeTV gizmo where it can project light onto a curtain, and that’s exactly what your home will say to passersby.

The device (which runs between about $20 and $40 depending on size) plugs into an adapter and can either work on a timer or with a light sensor, so it can switch on when it gets dark.

#3 Change Up Your Shades Remotely

Leave your window shades down while you’re gone and you might as well put out a “Gone Fishin’” sign.

Check out wireless options to throw some shade on the go. Several companies have systems — including Hunter Douglas PowerView, Pella Insynctive, and Lutron Serena — that allow shades to go up and down at your command for about $300 to $500 a window.

#4 Make Some Noise

Burglars can change plans in a hurry at the first sound of life inside a home — they’re a bit tetchy that way. So one option when you’re just gone for the day is a noise app, like Sleep And Noise Sounds that can play on a homebound phone, tablet, or computer. With noises like vacuuming and a boiling kettle, it can deter a thief who cracks open a window.

#5 Make Them Ring And Run

“Burglars will often ring your doorbell, and if no one answers, they’ll go around back and kick in the door,” says Deputy Michael Favata with the Monroe County Sheriff’s office in New York. Now you can answer the door with the Ring Video Doorbell ($180 for the basic model).

If someone pushes the doorbell, you can talk to them through an app on your phone. Whether it’s your nosey neighbor or a sketchy stranger, you can say, “I’m in the basement” while you’re really on the slopes. They’ll never know. And even if they don’t believe you, they know they’re being watched (insert devilish laugh here).

#6 Try a No-Tech Technique

Not everything requires a gadget. Here are ways to up your home security without downloading a single app:

  • Hire a house sitter. Then someone will be home.
  • If there’s snow, have a neighbor walk up and down the path to your door, shovel a passage up to the garage door and drive in and out of the driveway. If it’s hot out, ask them to keep your plants looking fresh with regular waterings. And don’t forget to bring them a nice gift from your getaway.
  • Ask friends, family, or neighbors to just be present on your property — use your patio, play in your yard, or bring in the mail.
  • Invite a neighbor to keep a car parked in your driveway. During the holidays, they may be happy if they need overflow for visitors.
  • Install a fake security camera for as low as $8. Burglars may not notice these fakes don’t have all the wiring necessary to be real. And their blinking red lights offer reasonable doubt.
  • Get a dog. A real dog. While you’re at work or running errands, nothing deters bad guys and gals like a barking, slobbery security guard. And when you go away, having a pet sitter stay can be as economical as some boarding facilities (especially if you have multiple dogs), and you’ll get the benefit of a human and canine sentinel.

What you don't see can embarass you...

by Houselogic

Admit it: It’s easy to get a little “Judge Judy” inside someone else’s home. We notice gunk on the floor, cobwebs in the corners, and dust on the overhead fan. But guess what? Unless you’re Adrian Monk, you’ve probably got some gunky places that your friends notice, but you don’t. (Sad trombone.)

This is why we tracked down a domestic guru to help us with this article. No matter how hard it is to find dirt hideaways on your own, a little expert advice can make it alllll OK. Jan M. Dougherty, author of “The Lost Art of House Cleaning: A Clean House Is a Happy Home,” revealed the seven spots you’re likely to miss — and the best ways to make them presentable, stat:

#1 Light Fixtures

Look up. Your light fixtures are loaded with dust and dead bugs.

Take them down, spritz with a cleaning solution, and wipe clean. Dougherty uses a solution of five parts water and one part Krud Kutter, a non-toxic odorless all-purpose product. (Handy tip: When making the Krud Kutter solution, put the water in first. “Otherwise it’ll bubble over,” she says.)

#2 Toilet Body

You probably clean your tank fairly often, but what about all the bits and pieces that surround the tank, and the floor itself?

For porcelain thrones, Dougherty recommends Soft Scrub with bleach to clean the minuscule cracks that form in the glaze over time. For any non-porcelain parts, she says vinegar will do. Start with the top of the tank and spray all the way around — the lid, under the lid, the seat, down to and on the surrounding floor, and even the walls behind the toilet.

#3 Dust Collectors

The TV mount, picture frames, computer printer, keyboards, and remotes are great dust collectors. Use a microfiber rag that you’ve sprayed lightly with vinegar to banish it all. Vinegar isn’t electrostatically charged, so dust will take longer to return to that spot.

#4 Drawer Organizers

Crumbs and dirt love those little compartments. Suck them up with a handy vac, or spray with vinegar and wipe away with a rag.

Don’t wait until the crumbs are three inches deep and have taken root in the drawer. If that’s the case, break it down and clean with the Krud Kutter solution.

#5 Ice Maker

Old ice absorbs food odors, so it’s a good idea to clean and sanitize the whole system every once in a while. Stop the machine from making more ice, pull out the ice bin, and dump the ice.

Wash the bin and ice maker with vinegar, or put the bin in the dishwasher if your manual says it’s safe to do so. Wipe the ice maker with a dry rag to remove moisture.

#6 Appliance Handles

You touch them so many times every day. And you never think about it. Spray them all down with the Krud Kutter mix and then wipe.

“One night a week, I take the knobs off the stove, remove the dish and the grease screen from the [over-the-range] microwave, and take the bowl with utensils that sits next to my stove and put them all in the dishwasher,” Dougherty says.

“Do this before bed and by the morning you’ve cleaned half your kitchen, yet touched nothing.”

#7 Glass and Mirrors

Dougherty washes dull, smudged glass and mirrors with straight vinegar. Be aware that if you’ve been using commercial cleaners it may take “four, five, six, maybe seven cleanings with vinegar to get all the wax off the glass,” she says.

Bonus tip: ”When you go into a room to clean you shouldn’t have to think. You should be able to turn up the music and rock and roll your way around the room,” Dougherty says. She uses a method she calls “The Path” — start in one corner, progress around the perimeter, and then head to the middle. Clean everything in your path as you go around the room.

5 Tips For A Lower Heating Bill

by Realtor.org

Keeping a home warm during the colder months of the year can prove to be expensive. With energy costs on the rise, many households are facing higher energy bills each year.

Fixr.com, which provides "Cost Guides" of estimates to common household remodeling projects, highlights five projects to help increase a home’s energy efficiency and keep utility bills lower. (Fixr.com also provides cost estimates below of the projects listed.)

1. Find unorthodox heat sources. More efficient sources of heat are available, particularly if the home is in a milder climate or if the home can be broken into zones.

A heat pump can help lower your electric bills by 50 percent if you currently use electricity to heat your home. Heat pumps cost about $7,500, but will pay for themselves with reduced energy costs. Switching to a geothermal heat pump will save you even more. According to Money Crashers, geothermal heat pumps qualify for a tax credit equal to 30 percent of equipment and installation costs, with no upper limit. Pumps are also frequently paired with things like radiant heat flooring in specific areas of the home, as they are more effective at using energy than either baseboards or radiators and can help supplement the heat in smaller spaces.

Radiant heat costs between $6,000 and $14,000 if covering your whole home, but you can often install it in a single room for around $700. Paired with a heat pump, this will keep your home warm while significantly lowering your energy bills.

2. Add extra insulation. The amount of insulation that your home needs is directly tied to the type of heat source you have. Many homes are actually underinsulated for their climate and their heat source, resulting in their furnaces or radiators having to work harder than they need to and causing a spike in energy bills.

Insulating even a single room in your home can dramatically increase comfort and help you lower your thermostat, resulting in smaller bills. Adding insulation to your attic can also help you prevent costly and damaging ice dams as well, saving you even more. The cost to insulate a single room in your home is around $1,200 to $1,800, and will recoup about 107 percent of the cost at time of resale, making this one of the best improvements you can do for your home.

3. Take care of your furnace. Furnaces are one of the most commonly used ways to heat large homes. Unfortunately, they often have a wide range of efficiency that could be costing you more in monthly bills than they need to.

If your furnace is less than 10 years old, make sure to schedule regular maintenance to keep it running at peak efficiency. This involves changing the filter and making repairs as necessary. The most common furnace repair involves replacing the heat exchange, for around $1,000 to $1,700.

If your furnace is older than 10 years, replacing it can dramatically increase its efficiency. Older furnaces only run at around 50 percent efficiency, while newer models can reach rates of 90 percent, making them a much better choice for keeping monthly bills down. A new furnace costs around $3,000 to $5,000, but will pay for itself in lowered bills over time.

4. Make the switch to gas. If you’re currently heating your home with electricity or oil, you’re likely spending more each month than you would if you switched to natural gas. Gas furnaces are much more efficient than oil or electric heaters, which can save as much as 30 percent on energy bills each month.

The cost to install a new gas system in your home is around $6,000 to $8,000, assuming you have ducts already in place. This upgrade makes the most sense if your current heating system is over 10 years old, as you’ll see the largest gains. The typical ROI of a new gas furnace system is around 15 percent, which means that it will pay for itself in just 6 years.

5. Complete an energy audit. Your home may be losing a great deal of the energy you use to heat it, without you even realizing it. An energy audit—or a comprehensive look at how your home uses and loses energy—will help you find ways to make your home more efficient overall.

An energy audit costs about $150, and many times this cost will be rolled into any upgrades you may choose to make, allowing you to save more. Conducting an energy audit before you have any other work or upgrades done on your home can help you make better informed decisions about the space, maximizing your potential efficiency and savings.

Energy Tips for Proudly Frugal Homeowners

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Real estate professionals looking to outsell their competition are turning to 3-D and virtual reality technology to help them win listings, connect with home buyers —and close sales.

Among the options is an all-in-one media solution from Matterport that enables agents and brokers to create dynamic 3-D house tours with embedded video and audio, immersive virtual reality walk-throughs, high-resolution photography for print advertising, traditional 2-D floor plans, teaser videos, and more, from a single shoot.

By combining traditional marketing techniques with sophisticated 3-D and virtual reality technology, Matterport has become an effective tool for real estate professionals at the top of their game.

Make sure if your paying a commission, your agent is spending some of it on marketing your home. 3D technology is only 1 tiny part of the multi-faceted marketing plan you'll get when you choose The All-Star Team, REALTORS to represent you in the sale of your home.

Opportunites are Abundant!

by DeLois Smith

A hearty welcome to refreshment of soul and spirit to the “normal” delights of fall! We need the diversions of invigorating new energy, cooler temperatures, bright nighttime skies, colorful autumn landscapes, high energy football games, Octoberfest, MAR, and NAR conventions for Realtors.

Our team has felt the pain personally as family members and close friends experienced painful losses in Texas and Florida in recent days. We are proud that our community is intensely involved- local power and utility companies, engineers, skilled craftsmen, churches, and numerous personal volunteers.

So, when challenges engulf us, where are the opportunities?  First, our need for spiritual anchoring and focus has never been greater. Dr. Bill Smith just reminded some of us sales and marketing professionals last week that personal growth starts with orderly routine which allows time for seizing the moments, causing lasting value every day and recognizing that each stage of life provides passing opportunities. It is probably evident to most of you that I have not “seized all the moments” along the way. I am happy to report to you that I will be sharing childhood stories and big moments with my “Ring” cousins from my dad’s family in Northeastern hills of Arkansas this weekend. I plan to include some Alma Mater highlights visiting the Arkansas State campus along the way.

Economic and professional opportunities are abundant, but harder to recognize when so many challenges divert our attention. Creative ideas and vision flow from a positive attitudes. Mississippi Power Solar Plant Opens in Hattiesburg was a recent very positive headline. Mayor Toby Barker stated, “It captures our character as the Hub City. We’ve become the hub of so many things – from medical to military to higher education to retail and culinary.”

Other current economic and professional Greater Hattiesburg points of pride include: #1 in job growth percentage in Mississippi among metros; Top 8 tax friendly cities for retirees; Top 2 of 5 best public high schools in Mississippi; and 1.7% increase in home sales from 2016-2017 year to date – actual numbers of sales are 1190 versus 1210 year-to-date according to our local MLS.

Incoming buyers, move-up and move-down buyers and first time buyers have great opportunities. Just this past week our team has had the privilege of experiencing all of these families. Actually,
I experienced all of these buyers in the open house in Shadow Ridge this past Sunday. I hosted a BIG family moving from Colorado to Oak Grove in a military move; a growing family selling in Midtown to move to a larger, more updated home; a more mature couple moving to a recreational center; and a young couple not yet married, but looking for their first home.

Our team is grateful for the opportunities you have provided with your generous referrals! Currently, we have good quality homes for sale in all price ranges. We are looking forward to an active fall market providing great choices for all of our buyers. Thank you again and again for your valuable support!!

Gratefully yours,

DeLois and Team

Get Staging with The All-Star Team, REALTORS

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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 111

The All-Star Team, REALTORS brings you over 200 years of accumulated experience along with the most innovative marketing strategies in the real estate industry. We specialize in the real estate properties located in Hattiesburg, Oak Grove, Petal, Sumrall, Purvis, Columbia, and the entire Pine Belt region. Put The All-Star Team, REALTORS® to work for you as you consider your next home sale or purchase. Experience the team approach to real estate and make us your REALTOR® for life! See how The All-Star Team, REALTORS® really is bringing the Pine Belt home again and again.