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NextHome Santana Real Estate expands into second location

NextHome Santana Real Estate expands into second location

(From left to right) Samantha Santana Tiru, Cuco Santana, and Vicky Santana
(From left to right) Samantha Santana Tiru, Cuco Santana, and Vicky Santana

Pleasanton, CA— June 28, 2017  NextHome is proud to announce our newest addition to the franchise, NextHome Santana Real Estate – Orlando Branch. The brokerage is the second NextHome Santana Real Estate location in Florida. NextHome Santana Real Estate started in Vero Beach in June of 2015.

Based in Orlando, NextHome Santana Real Estate’s new location will provide real estate services such as single family residential sales, commercial, multi-units, luxury and waterfront properties, just to name a few.

Owned and operated by broker/owner Vicky Santana, NextHome Santana Real Estate will help buyers and sellers in all areas of Metropolitan Orlando. This branch location will be led by Vicky’s son, Cuco Santana.

Entering the business in 2004, Vicky started her real estate career with a different mentality than her previous profession of administration in the medical field.

“When I started real estate, I knew the more effort that I put into my career, the more I could get out of it,” said Vicky. “Not just more income, but also more fulfillment knowing that I’m helping families find their home. I didn’t want to be a sales person. I wanted to be a true consultant and help buyers and sellers make smart decisions for their families.”

Over the course of the next five years, Vicky helped many families in the Vero Beach area, making her one of the top agents in her local market. While she was a top producer, she had visions of creating her own brokerage to adapt to the local community.

Vicky opened Santana Realty in 2009, and with the new brokerage came new opportunities to brand herself. She focused on using her independent brokerage to add creativity to the marketing she was previously unable to do with her former broker. And it worked.

She grew her market share and has become well known within her community. By treating her clients like she treats her own friends and family, she has gained the respect, trust and referrals from residents in the area. She also became well known for her client appreciation parties and has affectionately been described as “the local REALTOR®” by residents.

As her business grew, so did the need for new team members. In 2013, she added to her team by bringing on Cuco as a buyer’s agent. In 2014, Vicky brought on her daughter, Samantha, to help with the business.

“I worked so hard for years to create something to provide for my children,” said Vicky. “Every parent wants their children to succeed. To work with my family every day is such a special feeling. We are creating something together. I get to see my children not only succeed, but exceed any expectation I ever had for them.”

Not only did Vicky make the commitment to the local residents and her family, but to the REALTOR® community as well. She involved herself in local and state REALTOR® politics with the desire to step up and help shape the real estate profession. Santana served on numerous committees, including being elected as the 2015 Chair of the Professional Standards Committee at her local Association, and as the 2015 State Secretary for both the Florida REALTORS® Council of Real Estate Brokerage Managers (CRB) and the Florida REALTORS® Certified Residential Specialists (CRS).

Santana was introduced to the NextHome concept when she saw a featured article about the franchise. When she found out a real estate colleague, Anand Patel (owner of NextHome Discovery), joined the franchise, she was interested in finding out more about this opportunity.

“When I saw the technology coupled with a new fresh look, I was instantly intrigued,” said Vicky. “As I explored more about the company, I found that the service from the corporate team was full of great communication and help. The marketing. The technology. The great franchisee service from the corporate team. It all made sense.”

“From the first moment Vicky and I spoke, I immediately knew she was dedicated and passionate about the industry,” said NextHome’s Vice President of Sales, Charis Moreno. “How she runs her business and her brand by looking at every detail ensuring it is relevant to today’s consumers. Coupled with her commitment to her family and her clients, make it a perfect combination for us to join forces. The technology platform we offer at NextHome will now give Vicky the leverage she needs to further grow and expand in her local market and providing something for her children to continue her legacy far into the future.”

Please join us in congratulating Vicky, Cuco, Samantha, and the rest of the team at NextHome Santana Real Estate on opening their second NextHome office!


Interested in being a part of the NextHome Real Estate Franchise? Contact VP of Sales Charis Moreno at

Each office is an independently owned and operated business.

NextHome Music City Realty opens in Brentwood, Tennessee

NextHome Music City Realty opens in Brentwood, Tennessee

Randy and Kim Bacik
Randy and Kim Bacik

Pleasanton, CA— June 23, 2017 NextHome is proud to announce our latest addition to the franchise, NextHome Music City Realty. The brokerage will be owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Randy and Kim Bacik.

The Brentwood-based brokerage will provide residential real estate services to the cities of Brentwood, Franklin, Nolensville, Murfreesboro, and the remainder of Williamson and Rutherford Counties. Included among the services provided by NextHome Music City Realty will be first-time home buyers, move-up buyers, luxury properties, single family residence listings, and investment properties.

Located 20 minutes south of Nashville, Brentwood is home to over 40,000 residents.

Originally from Florida, both Randy and Kim are experienced real estate veterans of more than 20 years in the industry. Randy (licensed since 1995) and Kim (licensed since 1997) started their real estate career as owners of their own vacation rental business.

Working in the Sanibel Islands area in Florida in 1997, the Baciks started Royal Shell Vacations – a natural transition as guests became home owners.

The Baciks successfully ran Royal Shell Vacations up until they sold it in 2008. The new owners asked the two to stay on and continue to manage the company.

In just ten years, the couple grew their company from a two-person operation to have more than 450 agents in 27 offices throughout the west coast of Florida. At the peak of their company, Royal Shell Vacations was responsible for managing over 2,200 properties.

Randy and Kim ran the company until 2016, when the couple wanted to relocate to Tennessee.

“We went to a wedding in 2015 that happened to be held in Franklin,” recalls Randy. “Right away we fell in love with the city and Kim said, ‘Let’s do it’. So, we made the move.”

With NextHome Music City Realty, the Baciks will return to their experience in building a company through staying cutting edge, treating their team members with respect, and providing the support and guidance their agents need.

“We are not the type of brokers who want to be in the spotlight,” said Randy. “It’s our belief in our agents and associates that helped us build our last company. With NextHome Music City Realty, those same principles will be at the core of how we treat our team.”

“We have made the commitment to providing our agents with the most innovative technology and tools and to give Franklin and surrounding communities a real estate company they can count on for expert real estate service and guidance,” added Kim.

Agent amenities such as an in-house marketing team and an administrative staff to assist the agents, will allow NextHome Music City Realty’s REALTORS® to be focused on providing world-class service to their clients.

When the Baciks are not selling real estate, the couple spends time with their three children and two grandchildren. The company will be a family affair as their daughter, Tiffany, and sons Tyler and Tanner, will all be working at the brokerage.

Tiffany will be working as an agent, as well as helping with some of the administrative duties, while Tyler will focus on brokerage technology and Tanner handles marketing and photography of company listings.

Outside of real estate, the Baciks have two volunteer organizations they work with.

“We are big volunteers with rescue animals,” said Randy. “We believe in giving animals a chance and we spend time and efforts helping these animals in need. We have been a home for several rescue dogs who needed a home.”

“We also are involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation for kids, as well as an organization called The Dream Foundation,” said Kim. “Like Make-A-Wish provides experiences for children, The Dream Foundation provides experiences for the terminally ill elderly to fulfill a lifelong dream. It’s very rewarding for us to be involved working with both organizations.”

Please join us in welcoming Randy, Kim, and the rest of the team at NextHome Music City Realty to the NextHome family and congratulating them on their brand new office location!


Interested in being a part of the NextHome Real Estate Franchise? Contact VP of Sales Charis Moreno at


Each office is an independently owned and operated business.

NextHome franchise expansion continues in Massachusetts

NextHome franchise expansion continues in Massachusetts

(From left to right) Michele Mullen, Gerry Mullen Jr., Amy Mullen, John Eysie, and Cathy Savage-Eysie
(From left to right) Michele Mullen, Gerry Mullen Jr., Amy Mullen, John Eysie, and Cathy Savage-Eysie

Pleasanton, CA— June 21, 2017 NextHome is proud to announce our latest addition to the franchise, NextHome Signature Realty. The brokerage will be owned and operated by five business partners – Michele Mullen, Gerry Mullen Jr., Amy Mullen, John Eysie, and Cathy Savage-Eysie.

The company leadership team, known in their local real estate community as The Dream Team, is comprised of family members coming together to run the brokerage. Each member plays an integral role for the company.

Michele will function as the day-to-day operations manager and the trainer for their agents. Her son, Gerry will serve as the broker of record for NextHome Signature Realty. Gerry’s wife, Amy, will focus on sales, as will Michele’s brother, John. Cathy, John’s wife, will be the branding specialist for the company.

In additional to real estate experience, the members of the team come with diverse backgrounds, and features members who have expertise in fields such as legal attorneys, educators, corporate executives and branding specialists. It’s those skills that will provide NextHome Signature Realty a real advantage for clients who work with the company.

The Dover-based brokerage will provide residential real estate sales services to the all areas of Southeastern Massachusetts including Dover, Medfield, Norwood, Dedham, Westwood, Needham and the remainder of Norfolk County.

Included among the services provided by NextHome Signature Realty will be first-time home buyers, move-up buyers, single family residence listings, multi-family properties, and investment properties. Luxury property sales make up a significant portion of the company’s sales, as Michele is certified as a Luxury Home Marketing Specialist.

Located 20 minutes southwest of Boston, Dover is home to just under 7,000 residents and located on the south banks of the Charles River.

As experienced real estate investors, the ownership team comes from a real estate upbringing. Michele’s father was a successful real estate entrepreneur who built relationships in the Dover area for decades.

“With me being a second-generation REALTOR® and Gerry being a third-generation REALTOR®, our family has been deeply rooted in the real estate world,” said Michele. “I know my father is looking down on us from heaven and I’m hoping he’s proud that we have been able to continue his legacy.”

The Dream Team decided to open the company after finding NextHome to be the forward-thinking brand they were looking for in a franchise.

“Everything I read about NextHome fit our personality,” said Michele. “We didn’t want to be affiliated with a company that was stagnant and not technology-based.”

“The real ‘wow’ factor is when (NextHome’s Chief Executive Officer) James Dwiggins called to introduce himself when we were looking at the franchise,” added Michele. “To have a CEO of a large company reach out to introduce himself… It’s one of those small things that make such a big difference. It’s exactly the type of company we are proud to be connected with.”

Please join us in welcoming Michele, Gerry Jr., Amy, John, Cathy, and the rest of the team at NextHome Signature Realty to the NextHome family and congratulating them on their new NextHome office!


Interested in being a part of the NextHome Real Estate Franchise? Contact VP of Sales Charis Moreno at


Each office is an independently owned and operated business.

Buyers: What’s Trending in 2017

Buyers: What’s Trending in 2017

A few key trends may hold the answers and provide some important insights for your business. For one, both millennials and baby boomers could be your biggest buyers.

Interesting trends are taking shape across home buyers. For one thing, both millennials and baby boomers will be big buyers. No longer is the sweet spot only in the middle-aged target. As more 25 to 34 year olds enter the job market and start earning higher salaries (a healthy $75,000-plus according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), millennials are poised to take the housing market by storm. On the other hand, now that the market is picking up, baby boomers are not staying put like they used to. They are carving out unique empty-nester lifestyles in new and different places.

First, here’s what you should know about millennials:


Many of those born between 1980 and the late 1990s are expected to buy their first home this year — and likely not a traditional starter home. As a result of paid-off loans and higher-paying jobs, this group is opting for more than a condo or townhome. In fact, this group may be in a position to spend more on a home than you might think. According to a article, generally speaking today, “the typical earner can expect to see her wages grow the most between the ages of 25 and 35, by an average 38%.” This positive income momentum can make a millennial buyer more confident.

Their geographic preference? Midwestern suburbs and medium-sized cities. As it happens, suburban and smaller city living appeals to baby boomers and millennials, alike. Millennials, especially, are focused on safety, privacy and more space.

So what about folks at the other end of the life-stage spectrum?

Here’s what you should know about baby boomers.

Baby Boomers:

This group, the oldest of whom are entering their late 60s, are also looking to move as they reach their retirement years, according to Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for

Baby boomers’ participation in the housing market has dwindled over the last several years, as many have been reluctant to sell and have opted instead to wait for their homes to recover the value they lost due to the downturn in the housing market.

Interestingly, many boomers are opting not to move to traditional retirement hot spots like Arizona and Florida and are choosing instead to move closer to family or in proximity to their favorite activities, such as music, theater and nature. So it’s become even more individualized, and more important than ever to know your boomer buyers.

Other trends that will influence buyers in 2017:

Slowly rising prices.

Experts say the price climb will be slow but steady, as demand is stronger now than it was at this time last year. According to a recent article on, Redfin predicts that median home sale prices will gain 5.3% in 2017 compared to 2016. In addition, Zillow is forecasting more conservatively the median home value to rise 3.2% from $192,500 between November 2016 to November 2017.

Higher rates. More credit.

Although rates may rise, mortgage credit will likely be more widely available due to slightly loosening lending standards. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will begin backing larger mortgages for the first time in over a decade — up to $424,100 — making it easier for buyers in expensive markets to finance their purchases.

Medium-size cities continue to rise.

Millennials, or just younger adults in general, are becoming attracted to medium-sized cities, which may not have the same professional opportunities as their larger counterparts, but do provide housing affordability. reports that cities like Raleigh, NC, and Fort Collins, CO, have seen building permit issuance soar over the past six years as they attract young adults seeking affordable mortgage payments and lower asking prices. This trend is expected to continue throughout 2017.

As you stay in step with the ever-evolving marketplace, leveraging trends and insights such as these will help make 2017 your most successful year ever.

For more helpful tips, visit the American Home Shield® Home Matters blog

Real Estate Agent as Therapist: 5 Tips to Soothe Your Buyers and Sellers

Real Estate Agent as Therapist: 5 Tips to Soothe Your Buyers and Sellers

Have you ever felt like a therapist to your home buyers and sellers?

If you’re like many of our real estate customers, the answer is an easy and immediate “heck, yes!”

Dealing with unrealistic expectations, compromises, negotiations, difficulty letting go, the thrill of finding “the one” … homeownership is most likely the largest investment of their lives, both emotionally and financially.

Of course, the process can be a mental rollercoaster for everyone involved – including the real estate agent.

We’ve rounded up five tips to make your clients feel more at ease from beginning to end and – most importantly – to continue building trust and confidence in your judgement.

1 Ask Questions to Help Clients Truly Understand Their Motivations and Desires (Buyers)

Buyers often believe a new home will make them significantly happier.

And while it may, their happiness is definitely dependent on the trade-offs involved. For example, your buyers may believe that choosing a larger home away from their job or another lifestyle tradeoff, is a good option.

Unfortunately, this isn’t usually the case. Committing significant portions of your day to commuting to work daily tends to increase stress and detract from overall happiness.

Help your clients keep the whole picture in mind so they make the right decision when purchasing a home.

2 Justify Reasonable Asking Prices by Simplifying Market Data and Your Knowledge of the Community (Sellers)

Many factors can cause your seller to want to put their home on the market. For example, are they first time sellers? Are they dealing with grief over something like death or divorce? Something of that nature can cause clients to try and overprice their home.

Obviously, you’re the pro. You have the market data. You know the community. You have the pricing strategy. But facts alone can’t turn these sellers around.

We make our decisions emotionally, then rationalize them to ourselves. So leading with empathy for their position and aligning with their point of view builds the buy in you need to bridge over to a reasonable price and strategy. Consistent with “facts tell, stories sell,” if you have a cautionary tale in your pocket, this is a great time to share it.

We’ve heard success stories from clients who have used recorded video messages when communicating with their clients about a lower asking price. This allows you to make a more empathetic and emotional appeal, while giving them the space they need to absorb the feeling and the facts you provide.

In one recent success story, Nancy earned her clients an extra $35,000 in this way.

3 Connect them with a Great Lender (Buyer)

You probably already require your buyers to have a pre-approval letter before you take them on as a client. But that doesn’t say anything about their familiarity or comfort with the entire process.

The most common reason closings fall through is lack of communication. It’s also the likely cause of most of the emotional crises you deal with as a real estate therapist.

Between you and the mortgage professional, keep buyers calm by outlining the entire process, then focusing on the next few steps. Emphasize the importance of compliance, accuracy, and timeliness from the very first meeting and onwards.

As you well know, you may have to pick up some slack here – or the lender may meet you more than halfway on it. Regardless, an informed buyer is a comfortable buyer – and this assures a clean closing.

4 Set Expectations Ahead of Time (Sellers)

The selling process can be a crazy ride. Many first-time sellers think they’re in the clear as soon as they’ve accepted an offer, which is obviously not the case.

From the inspection, to the appraisal, to the actual transaction closing itself, pitfalls abound. And when something goes south, who’s the therapist with open ears, a big heart, and the right answers? You are.

As with buyers and the borrowing process, sellers need to see the entire process from the get go – then smaller next steps as you proceed. Disappointment is a function of expectations, so set them ahead of time and manage them throughout.

What you know well, your sellers should, too: no deal’s done until the closing papers are signed, and the funds are transferred.

5 Use Video to Help Clients Resonate with Good and Bad News (Both)

Buying or selling a home is an emotionally charged process for everyone involved. Your top goals here: amplify the positive and mitigate the negative.

When a buyer’s offer is chosen against many others in a seller’s environment, celebrate it. Instead of using your phone to text your clients at that moment, open the BombBomb mobile app and send a congratulatory video. By showcasing your raw emotion and excitement for the buyer at that moment, face-to-face, you’ll give your buyers the chance to always associate you with the happiness they felt.

And when you’ve got bad news, they need time to process it. An in-person meeting or live phone call demands they react in real time. Give them space and show them empathy by recording and sending a personal video. Use BombBomb analytics to know exactly when they open it and watch your video and follow up accordingly.

Emotionally charged situations – both positive and negative – are featured in our free webinar “Top 10 Times Video Says It Better Than Typed-Out Text.”

Click here to watch it at your convenience. You’ll see real examples and get deeper understanding of how to enhance your role as therapist with simple webcam and smartphone videos.

Real Estate Agent as Therapist: Get Face to Face

You’re better in person. You win when you’re face to face. But you don’t always have the time or opportunity to get together with every client on every update or decision.

When you can’t be there in person, video is the next best thing. Your face, voice, personality, expertise, enthusiasm, sincerity, and all those other rich, nonverbal cues come through in a way plain emails, text messages, social posts, or even voicemails simply can’t deliver.

Especially in your role as therapist, video will help you calm buyers and sellers, smooth out transactions, and improve overall customer experience.

For more helpful tips, visit the BombBomb Blog

NextHome Elevate Real Estate opens in Montrose, Colorado

NextHome Elevate Real Estate opens in Montrose, Colorado

Shawn and Tammy Carroll
Shawn and Tammy Carroll

Pleasanton, CA— June 13, 2017 NextHome is proud to announce our newest addition to the franchise, NextHome Elevate Real Estate. The new brokerage is the 7th NextHome franchise location opened in the state of Colorado.

NextHome Elevate Real Estate will be owned and operated by husband and wife team of Shawn and Tammy Carroll. Shawn will handle most of the sales and day-to-day brokerage duties, while Tammy will handle the company’s accounting and back office operations. The City of Montrose-based brokerage will service the cities of Montrose, Ridgway, Ouray, and Delta.

The brokerage will focus on residential real estate services such as first time home buyers, investment properties, multi-family homes, and commercial. Over the past several years, the company has been working extensively with high-end home listings.

The City of Montrose in located in the Southwest part of Colorado and is home to just under 20,000 residents.

Licensed since 1994, Shawn spent the first few years of his career with a local independent brokerage – Bray and Company. After several years of successful selling, Shawn made the move to a local RE/MAX brokerage. It was there where he saw growth in his business and saw an opportunity to make a bold move.

“I was already running my business like a brokerage, so we opened our own company – Premier Properties Group,” said Shawn.

For next 13 years, Shawn and Tammy grew the company to 15 agents and had an incredible number of closed transactions represented by the brokerage.

But as the 2013 recession hit the low point in the Southwest Colorado region, the area’s sales numbers slowed to a crawl. As the real estate market hit a wall, it became an opportunity for Shawn to step back and accomplish some of his other bucket list items.

He returned to school and achieved his Master’s Degree.  He also spent more time with one of his passions – coaching basketball.

As the market began to improve, Shawn returned back to real estate in 2016 and joined a local national franchised office on the promises of providing him with updated technology and systems.

“Unfortunately, they did not follow through on their promises,” recalls Shawn. “As frustrating as that was, I realized it was an opportunity to fill a hole in the market for a company that could provide agents with high-level technology expected by today’s buyers and sellers.”

Shawn’s introduction to NextHome was by accident.

“I thought I was calling a different real estate franchise when I connected with (NextHome’s VP of Sales) Charis Moreno,” said Shawn. “We hit it off right away and the more I found out about NextHome, the more I knew it was right for us.”

Since their launch, Shawn and Tammy have been getting rave reviews of their marketing and design of their materials – especially from other agents.

“It’s great to have other agents call and tell me that they love our marketing,” Shawn said with a laugh.

NextHome Elevate Real Estate makes a promise to the real estate community that the high-tech will always lead to high-touch service.

“I’ve always been a broker who believes in the handshake and the client/agent in person relationship,” adds Shawn. “It’s NextHome Elevate Real Estate’s technology that will connect us with more potential clients, which allows us to represent more buyers and sellers as their trusted source in real estate.”

When not selling real estate, Tammy and Shawn spend time with their four children and three grandchildren with a focus around sports. As passionate basketball fans, you’ll either find Shawn coaching basketball or at a game with Tammy and the kids.

Please join us in welcoming Tammy, Shawn and the rest of their team at NextHome Elevate Real Estate for the opening of their new NextHome office!


Interested in being a part of the NextHome Real Estate Franchise? Contact VP of Sales Charis Moreno at


Each office is an independently owned and operated business.

NextHome continues expansion in Los Angeles County

NextHome continues expansion in Los Angeles County

Bitania Girma
Bitania Girma

Pleasanton, CA— June 8, 2017 NextHome is proud to announce our newest addition to the franchise, NextHome Nest Broker. The new brokerage is the 42nd NextHome franchise location opened in the state of California.

NextHome Nest Broker will be owned and operated by veteran real estate broker, Bitania Girma. The El Segundo-based brokerage will service the entire Los Angeles area including El Segundo, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Torrance and Lawndale.

The brokerage will focus on residential real estate services such as first time home buyers, investment properties, multi-family homes, and condominiums.

Home to just under 20,000 residents, the city of El Segundo is located in what is known locally as the South Bay – an area outside of the City of Los Angeles.

Licensed since 2002, Girma started her career with a local independent real estate brokerage in Torrance. Girma enjoyed the supervising manager’s hands-on approach in helping her build her real estate business and improve as an agent.

When the manager of the office left to open her own brokerage in 2006, Girma followed. Over the next ten years at BRC Realty, Girma built an impressive sales career in one of the most real estate agent-saturated areas in California.

Inspired by her broker’s determination to go out on her own and open a real estate brokerage, Girma attained her broker’s license in 2015 and opened her own company – Nest Broker.

“I chose the name Nest Broker because the term ‘nest’ stands for where one settles down with family,” said Girma. “I love being a part of helping someone find their dream house and settle into building a life of memories in that home.”

Knowing she would need some assistance in creating a brokerage with the technology and systems to take her company to the next level, Girma looked at franchising.

Girma and her husband of 11 years, Anteneh Dejene, are no strangers to franchises. They were H&R Block tax service franchisees and owners of their own location for seven years.

“We understand the power and benefits of partnering with an established franchise,” said Girma. “By connecting and partnering with NextHome, I can focus on providing world-class service to both my agents and my clients, instead of spending time looking for the tools and technology to stay relevant in the market.”

True to her “nest”, Girma is focused on family when she is not selling real estate. The couple are proud parents to two boys – Josiah (age 6) and Isaiah (4). Girma stresses the importance of exposing her children to cultural differences and take the children traveling throughout the world to experience people from different countries.

Please join us in welcoming Bitania and the rest of her team at NextHome Nest Broker for the opening of their new NextHome office!


Interested in being a part of the NextHome Real Estate Franchise? Contact VP of Sales Charis Moreno at


Each office is an independently owned and operated business.

What’s Good in the Hood? Six Ways to Check Your Neighborhood’s Vibe

What’s Good in the Hood? Six Ways to Check Your Neighborhood’s Vibe

When Bradley Shaw decided to move to Coronado, California last year, he was drawn to the laid-back beach lifestyle the area offered. But after he sold his old house and needed to find a new place quickly, he blew off some of the research he planned to do and ended up in a neighborhood he admits isn’t exactly what he wanted.

The house is on a busier street than he would have liked, and he’s found that the demographics of the area, including a high military population, lead to a concentration of rental homes and a consistent turnover of neighbors.

The house itself…still awesome. The rest of his environment…less than ideal.

There’s much more that factors into the enjoyment of your home than the structure itself. In fact, “neighborhood quality” is more important than home size for more than three-quarters of home buyers surveyed by the National Association of REALTORS®.

Here are six questions to consider about your new home’s environment.

1. How safe is the area?

This is probably the first item on your neighborhood fact-finding list, and with good reason. Crime stats can be found a variety of places online including NeighborhoodScout, which has a section for crime rates; and AreaVibes, which computes a Livability Score that includes crime rates.

To find out if there are nearby sex offenders, check databases at the U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website or Family Watchdog. You can also check with your local police department and consult the online community paper, which often prints the police blotter.

2. How awesome are the schools?

Websites such as SchoolDigger and GreatSchools can be a good starting point for assessing your local schools, and they are important to consult since everyone else (read: the next buyers) will be factoring those numbers into their ranking, too. But don’t rely on those numbers completely.

Call your local schools and ask them to send you a copy of the most recent Parent Teacher Organization/Association newsletter. That will give you a good feeling for what goes on in the school community.

Tempted to blow off school research because you don’t have kids? Don’t. The school district is still critical, says Ali Wenzke, a suburban Chicago homeowner who has moved almost a dozen times for her and her husband’s work. “I was pregnant when we bought our first home, and therefore was all over the parks and nearby zoo. We didn’t even consider our school district because kindergarten was years away, and the local high school certainly wasn’t on our radar.” Her story had a happy ending: She had unwittingly bought in a great school district which fast-tracked the resale, but warns it could have easily gone the other way.

3. Can you walk this way?

A new factor popping up is walkability: A NAR survey found that nearly half of people surveyed would choose a community with a smaller yard if it had an easy walk to amenities over a place with a larger yard that required more driving.

“In a city like Los Angeles where people spend so much time in their cars, walkability is a growing factor in many buyers’ decision-making process,” says Realtor® Amber Dolle with John Aaroe Group in Los Angeles. Visit the Walk Score to find ratings for specific houses — the higher the rating, the more walkable the neighborhood is, meaning the easier it is to accomplish routine errands on foot.

4. What is the neighborhood like when there’s not an open house?

Two p.m. on a Saturday is just one tiny sliver in the weekly rhythm of a neighborhood. Nothing beats a drive by on a Friday night to see how wild your neighbors get or just a walk around on a random Wednesday afternoon, says Todd Hutcheson, owner of in Orlando, Florida.

Check out if people are friendly when you stroll by; if kids are out playing; and if the streets are well-lit. And be on the look-out for deal breakers, whether it’s people parking their cars on the lawn or a pack of barking dogs next door, Hutcheson says, which can torpedo your peace and your home value.

And of course, you can always do a little door knocking to check with the neighbors, suggests Dolle, who often accompanies clients on a fact-finding mission. Find out if there are known crime problems or nuisances straight from the people who deal with them every day.

It’s also smart to try your commute during rush hour, just to make sure there are no unpleasant traffic surprises.

5. What’s on the horizon for your neighborhood?

Is your neighborhood slated for a three-lane highway, a new shopping mall, or scores of new tract homes? For better or worse, they will affect your home value, so check with the local planning and economic development departments. Development might just increase traffic woes and density, but it could also increases economic vitality, with upgraded buildings, parks and sidewalks, and exciting new merchants coming to town.

6. What are your neighbors ranting and raving about?

Wish you could be a fly on the wall to find out what’s really important to your neighbors? Try hanging out on Nextdoor or the local Facebook Group. “These types of apps and sites can be great for discovering activity in the area, from upcoming events to crime,” says Aaron Norris with real estate investment firm The Norris Group in Riverside, Calif.

On his own community-run site, he finds that participants share everything from information about traffic incidents to funny stories, weather, nonprofit news, and lost dog posts. “It’s amazing how active these self-regulated groups are,” he says, noting that some are inclined to be positive and informative, while others attract squeaky wheels who have a lot of spare time on their hands to complain. Take the chatter with a grain of salt, but public social snooping can still provide an invaluable peek into what’s on your neighbors’ minds.

And, don’t hesitate to take it a step further. Many sites will let newbies ask questions about a community they are considering.


NextHome opens first office in the state of Vermont

NextHome opens first office in the state of Vermont

Matt and Sarah Mayer
Matt and Sarah Mayer

Pleasanton, CA— June 6, 2017 NextHome is proud to announce our newest addition to the franchise, NextHome Heritage. The new brokerage is the first NextHome franchise location opened in the state of Vermont.

NextHome Heritage will be owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Matt and Sarah Mayer. The Williston-based brokerage will service the entire Chittenden County including Burlington, Williston, South Burlington, Shelburne, and Charlotte.

The brokerage will focus on residential real estate services such as first time home buyers, investment properties, multi-family homes, and land purchase and developments.

Home to just under 10,000 residents, the city of Williston is a suburb to Vermont’s largest city, Burlington.

Licensed since 2010, Matt started his career with Chenette Real Estate, a well-known and respected local real estate brokerage. He steadily built his real estate business under Chenette Real Estate with their supportive, yet flexible brokerage supervision.

“I really enjoyed working for the brokerage,” said Matt. “I was able to run my business the way I wanted, yet had all the guidance I needed to grow. It was also a place where I learned to market my services to the local community.”

In 2012, Matt’s real estate sales approached 20 transactions yearly and he needed an assistant to help him. Sarah, a former teacher, joined Matt to form a real estate team designed with the client in mind.

In 2014, Sarah attained her real estate license and began working with prospective buyers and helping them find their next home.

As the couple continued to sell more homes each year, it was the birth of their first son, Nathaniel, in 2016 that changed everything.

“After Nathaniel was born, Sarah and I really thought about what we wanted to build and leave for our son,” recalls Matt. “It was the thought of building a business and a company we could be proud of that had us ready to go out on our own.”

“NextHome Heritage will bring a fresh, new approach to the traditional way real estate had been done in our area,” said Sarah. “We will use the cutting-edge technology to create a better experience for our clients without ever losing the real relationship we have with them.”

When the Mayers aren’t selling real estate, they take in all the great outdoor activities Vermont has to offer. They particularly like taking Nathaniel on hikes and you’ll frequently find them hiking with their family dog, Scarlett.

Please join us in welcoming Matt, Sarah, and the rest of their team at NextHome Heritage for the opening of their new NextHome office!


Interested in being a part of the NextHome Real Estate Franchise? Contact VP of Sales Charis Moreno at


Each office is an independently owned and operated business.


Win more business from your sphere: 3 ways to tweak your marketing

Win more business from your sphere: 3 ways to tweak your marketing

The ads and flyers you run to your geographic farm often act as an introduction to you, your brand and your business niche. It’s acceptable (and expected) that your Just Listed flyers explain who you are and what you do.

But when it comes to marketing to your sphere — the people who know you best — it’s important that you work to reinforce your value proposition, not introduce it. Because while a refrigerator magnet with your face and email on it may be a suitable giveaway for 500 people in your farm, it’s a weird gift to offer the cousin who bunked with you every summer at Camp Lakota.

Your goal, then, is to make Cousin Jim feel more special than anyone in your CRM. Here are three ways you can tweak your marketing to better appeal to your sphere contacts.

1. Don’t act like you’re on a first date

The first rule of sphere marketing is to make assumptions of what your contacts know, then build on them. That means that you shouldn’t introduce yourself as if for the first time in every single flyer and ad you target at your sphere.

If you’re aiming for more referrals, then don’t be afraid to bring it up directly. These are people who know and trust you. Reference that trust explicitly by saying:

You know me. You trust me. I’d be honored to take care of any referrals you send my way.

2. Talk about a recent sphere referral

Instead of a generalized testimonial from a client who started as an online lead, include a testimonial from a recent referral.

In a one- or two-sentence intro, mention how you met this client.

My friend Julie introduced me to her brother and sister-in-law last year, and I was happy to help Max and Scarlett buy their first ever house! Here’s what they had to say about the experience.

Then, make sure that Max and Scarlett’s testimonial offers insights into how you went above and beyond to help them find the perfect home in their budget and timeframe.

3. Get rid of stock photography

We live in an era of Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and constant image sharing. As a real estate professional, you have countless opportunities everyday to snap photos that will stand out and offer more personal appeal than even the most perfectly lit stock photo.

As you go about each day, try to get photos of:

    • Your favorite place to get a latte, or the amazing milkshakes at your town’s old-school diner
    • A local hiking trail, lake or river path
    • A busy day at the local pool*
    • The best place to see changing fall leaves each fall
    • Scenes from a local 5k or marathon*
    • The pool at your new listing, staged to perfection
    • Winter wonderland activities, like skiing, snow tubing and snowshoeing*
    • A spring cherry blossom festival*
    • Interior photos of your office, decorated for an upcoming holiday or after a deep clean

*Be sure not to capture anyone’s face, or to get their permission if using their likeness in an ad campaign or social media post.

Having local, original photography will help to reinforce that you’re more than a real estate expert. It will remind your sphere contacts that you’re the #1 advocate for your community and local businesses.

Whatever it is that makes you love what you do and where you work, photograph those moments and use them instead of stock photography.

Can’t take a photo to save your life?

In that case, pay attention to the people who can — and ask if you can feature their and credit their work in a future ad campaign or social media post.

Whether it’s your amateur photographer friend with a $5,000 camera or a high schooler with a great eye and an even better iPhone editing tool, you can easily request and reward local photographers while reinforcing your work as a local agent.

Need help with sphere-based marketing and seller predictions from your sphere?

SmartTargeting for your Sphere helps you identify the homeowners most likely to sell from within your sphere and our automating marketing platform helps you appeal to these friends, former colleagues and acquaintances to win their business.
Reach out today to see which of your CRM contacts are selling this summer.

For more helpful tips, visit the SmartZip blog.