Photography

We Professionally Clean Your Home For Free When Selling

Blend Cleanology Owl JPGBlend Real Estate is pleased to announce its new partnership with Cleanology of San Diego. Cleanology is a fantastic and serious housekeeping service located throughout San Diego County. CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO THE LEFT! 

Now, when listing your home for sale with Blend Real Estate, we will pay Cleanology to come to your home and clean it top to bottom before it hits the market! This cleaning can occur right before the professional photography, so your home is truly sparkling for the photos! San Diego real estate never had it so good.

And of course you as the home seller will enjoy your clean home while we are marketing it for sale.

Cleanology uses its own products and tools, and everything will smell natural and fresh. There is nothing for you to do. Just say yes!

(This service does not include hauling away any items from your home or trash removal.)

Often sellers want to sell, but have a hard time getting ready to sell. So we will do all the work. And there’s more!

After the cleaning, Blend Real Estate steps in with its free Surface Staging program, really turning your house into a show place.

Surface Staging is something we invented and it means we buy new items and accessories for every surface of your home. It puts the right polish on each listing and explains why we sell our listings so fast, for such top dollar prices.

If your home is occupied, after it’s clean we will stage it for one day of photography, then move the items out and you’ll live with your own home items again.

The work to sell your home starts when we first sign with you! It’s a busy process. A timeline of events will be provided to you very early in your listing, so you’ll always know what is happening and when with your home.

We are ready to meet you and schedule your free house cleaning.

In the meantime, we have a new secondary website devoted to home searching. Look for your new home or sign up for our newsletter here, at BlendHomeSearch.com.

Kimberly Dotseth, broker/owner

Blend Real Estate

(858) 291-8110 or (619) 261-1909

kimberly@blendrealestate.com

Kerry Garnett, Realtor

Blend Real Estate

(858) 268-4733 or (858) 869-3351

kerry@blendrealestate.com

California BRE Licenses #01179760 and #01835915

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Social Media Image Size Cheat Sheet for 2015

P1040721Warning: YOU NEED THE LINK BELOW.

If you socialize in the public eye, imagery is a huge part of it. And every site that you and I post to has different requirements for the optimal image size to communicate effectively with your audience.

Here, the 2015 “cheat sheet” on images sizes across the social media spectrum, from the pros at The American Genius.

Look out, Twitter and Facebook! And absolutely all the others.

(This random snap shot of mine, taken of Paul McCartney in concert, was originally 4370 x 2930 and 5.2MB. Uploading into this WordPress blog, the site automatically resized the image to 300 x 201 and made it a lot smaller.)

-Kimberly

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Fire Safety Prevention at Home: Being Prepared for a House Fire

MatchAs a daily print subscriber to the New York Times, that single decision alone has really changed my life. Constantly I am reading and sharing stories that make sense and are interesting. Mostly I share these stories on Twitter. Today, I am sharing one with you called Learn, Baby, Learn. It’s about the aftermath of a home fire and where you go to start over.

A reminder to all our readers: Blend Real Estate will videotape and photograph all of your possessions FOR FREE if we work together.  The flash drive of the video and CD of the photos are turned over to you in case of a future fire. And all your real estate documents from our transaction are also delivered on CD. Your CDs and flash drive should be stored in a fire-proof box {which happens to be mentioned in the article}. We want your possessions documented…insurance adjusters can get you paid faster and hopefully closer to what things are worth. Let’s prevent all fires!

This is from the January 7, 2015, New York Times, which is copied and pasted below. And it’s linked here.

Learn, Baby, Learn

by Steven Kurutz

Being Prepared for House Fires

Last July, Jeremy Slutskin and his neighbors in a four-story condo building in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, experienced a reverse miracle: A fire broke out in a top-floor apartment due to — wait for it — spontaneous combustion of chemicals.

“As a cause for fire, it’s up there with St. Elmo’s fire and lightning,” Mr. Slutskin said.

His wife was home at the time, and he quickly left his office and returned to find a chaotic scene. The streets were blocked off and fire crews were dousing his building. The Red Cross was there. Big men in polo shirts brandishing clipboards appeared, offering to board up windows. More men in suits followed, promoting their services as adjusters. And someone claiming to be a fire marshal kept calling Mr. Slutskin’s cellphone and vouching for one of the polo-shirt guys.

“This is all happening during the fire — flames going,” he said. “It’s just nuts.”

The owner of a television production company who considers himself highly capable under normal circumstances, Mr. Slutskin, 43, had no idea what to do after the blaze was contained and the fire crew left. Neither did his newly homeless neighbors, or anyone they knew.

“Everyone reached out and said, ‘Who else has had a fire?’ No one seems to be any wiser than us,” Mr. Slutskin said. The period that followed, he added, has been “a large leap of faith.”

As traumatic as it is to have your possessions incinerated, many people who experience a house fire say the most difficult part comes afterward. What follows is often a long and stressful ordeal involving a search for temporary housing, dealings with insurance companies, bureaucratic agencies and contractors and financial strain.

Jim Bertini, senior vice president at ServPro of Central Manhattan, a national franchise that handles fire and water cleanup, said overwhelmed homeowners often look to him for guidance.

“The biggest devastating piece, other than losing your domicile, is trying to put everything back together,” Mr. Bertini said.

And navigating that process can be more complicated in New York, where many people live in multiunit buildings, he added: “In multifamilies, you may have 14 different units that are affected. It makes it more of a complex claim.”

Stephen J. Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association and a New York firefighter for more than two decades, said it goes against human nature to plan for a devastating event like a fire. Virtually everyone is caught off guard.

“Nobody ever thinks there’s going to be a fire in their apartment or house,” Mr. Cassidy said. “Even the ones that are prepared — who have insurance and family in the area — the property damage can be severe. Now what do you do?”

Many people will face that question in the coming months, Mr. Cassidy said, because the colder it gets, the more likely it is there will be house fires.

“Some of it is related to space heaters,” he said. “A lot of it is related to electrical cords. People have four, five things going off an electrical outlet. As a fireman, you know you’re going to go to more fires in the winter than any other season.”

­

It was in February, three years ago, that Jennifer Maroney’s Cape Cod home on City Island in the Bronx caught fire. Ms. Maroney and her husband and three sons were at the Bronx Zoo when a neighbor called. The cause was never determined, though she suspects it was related to a recently installed dishwasher.

“When we got there the whole interior was charred and black,” Ms. Maroney said. “Basically, all of our belongings were destroyed. The only thing that was still working was my old MacBook Pro. The light was breathing in and out.”

Like Mr. Slutskin, Ms. Maroney, 41, was hounded by opportunistic adjusters and at a loss for what to do next. In the short term, she and her family were able to stay first with a neighbor and then with her mother, and they found their insurance company to be responsive. But they soon ran into problems and made rookie mistakes.

The adjuster they hired suggested they have their smoke-stained clothes professionally dry cleaned, Ms. Maroney said, which cost thousands of dollars. And with the insurance company sending them chunks of money to cover living expenses until their home was rebuilt, Ms. Maroney repeatedly ran to stores to buy replacement items.

“Looking back, I would’ve budgeted better,” she said. “Let’s buy cheaper clothes for the kids. Let’s go to a church and get dishes, instead of Bed Bath & Beyond. With things like the dry cleaning, do you really need it?”

Mr. Slutskin, too, found himself struggling with financial concerns as well as the immediate problem of finding affordable temporary housing while covering his mortgage. His policy awarded him $40,000 for living expenses, and the insurance company called to say they had found him an apartment three and a half miles away.

But although the amount “sounds like a ton,” he said, “we’re going to be out of our home six months to a year.” And the temporary apartment was in the suburbs.

“Three and a half miles away doesn’t mean the same in New York as it does if you live in Dallas,” Mr. Slutskin said, adding that he and his wife couch-surfed, stayed in a hotel and rented an apartment for one month before finding a longer-term sublet in Brooklyn.

Jeff Schneider, president of the Gotham Brokerage Company in Manhattan, said many people take out only basic coverage to comply with their co-op or condo board’s requirements. They also underestimate the costs incurred in a house fire or don’t read their policies carefully. For instance, most policies have separate buckets of coverage for living expenses, structural repairs and personal property, with different corresponding amounts.

“It may be worth it to spend a little more on insurance, so if something nasty happens it doesn’t mess you up financially,” Mr. Schneider said. “Especially if your apartment is an investment. It’s always more expensive and more time-consuming than you think it’s going to be.”

# # #

Ms. Maroney and her family didn’t return to their house for a year and a half, in an odyssey that saw them living in a rental with mold problems and defending themselves against their insurer’s complaints that the process was taking too long. They might have rebuilt sooner, Ms. Maroney said, but she waited until she received a substantial remittance before hiring the architect. By then, Hurricane Sandy had hit, she said, and “all the construction companies jacked up their prices.”

The rebuilding process was further complicated by the limitations of her policy, which covered only putting the house back to the way it was before the fire. It turns out that the family hadn’t much liked the way it was. “We had a cute old Cape, but it was cut up in a weird way,” Ms. Maroney said. “It was very outdated. We wanted to do it better.”

A number of expenses, from installing large windows that overlook the Long Island Sound and a third bedroom to part of the contractors’ fees, they paid themselves. “When we get a new home and insurance, I’ll get a plan that goes above and beyond being able to put it back the way it was,” Ms. Maroney said. “But you don’t think of these things.”

As for Mr. Slutskin, his rebuilding efforts involved not only his apartment but the other 11 units in the building, and the building itself, which dates to the 1890s. Rebuilding each affected unit in a cost-effective, code-appropriate and timely fashion, he said, is like assembling a “giant million-dollar jigsaw puzzle.”

In a cruel irony, he and his wife had just completed a gut renovation of their master bedroom and bathroom a week before the fire. Much of that upgrade wasn’t sufficiently covered by their insurance policy; to return the home to the way it was is impossible. For starters, Mr. Slutskin’s kitchen cabinets aren’t produced anymore. And all of the original prewar details were lost.

“For us, there are small changes,” Mr. Slutskin said. “Like the entire living room is gone, so why don’t we move that closet?”

He hopes to be back home this spring. Until then, he said, he is still navigating what he called the “sprawling, intimidating, overwhelming” process that grew from a spark.

Balm After The Blaze

A house fire always comes as a painful shock and rebuilding is never easy. But there are a few things you can do to make the process smoother and save time and money.

Basic coverage can be obtained from about $250 a year in New York City, with broader coverage and higher limits starting at about $450 to $500 a year, said Jeff Schneider, president of the Gotham Brokerage Company in Manhattan. Renters’ insurance, which covers fire damage, is also widely available for $100 to $150 a year for a basic policy.

Be sure to set up the coverage buckets in ways that best fit your needs. Is $150,000 for personal possessions necessary, or is a higher amount better suited to structural and living expenses, otherwise known as loss of use?

Buy a Fireproof Box

When his fire was contained, Jeremy Slutskin had 20 minutes to go through his apartment and take whatever he needed. “You come out with a ball of yarn, a corkscrew and one shoe,” he said. “You just choke.” In retrospect, he said, he wishes he had been the kind of overprepared person who sets aside a metal box containing his deed and $500 in cash in case of fire.

Hire Help

Make sure you hire a reputable insurance adjuster and remediation company. They can help guide you through the complicated post-fire process. To do it all yourself is like taking on another job, said Jennifer Maroney, whose Bronx home caught fire three years ago. “My husband and I both work and we have three kids,” she said. “Those adjusters are like project managers: They are experienced in dealing with insurance companies and third parties, and can push back.”

Document Your Belongings

Don’t worry if it seems silly to walk around your house and take photos of what’s inside. It will come in handy after a fire. “When stuff is really destroyed, we find it’s very useful to have 20 or 30 digital photos stored online,” Mr. Schneider said. “If you can establish ownership, it expedites the claims process.”

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Coming Soon Listings From Blend Real Estate! Good Stuff Awaits the San Diego Buyer

blend real estate KIMBERLY sign artworkBlend Real Estate is having a wonderfully busy summer. We are literally blessed to be associated with such fine sellers. Our sellers happen to be a great human beings and it’s great to work with the best people around. Our sellers typically sell to move up within the area, or to move out of the area to be closer to family. Some are taking new jobs out of San Diego County. Our listings are NOT distressed and no one is in a panic to sell. We can calmly price and market the properties, looking for the best buyers. We have many new listings coming up that will appeal to all budgets:

 

North Clairemont, north of the Clairemont Square — beautiful four bedroom home with a boutique hotel-like pool. The photos are being shot this week. Asking price will be $619,900.

West University City — a generous corner lot with absolutely NO homes for sale in this area within blocks of the property. I think this home will be a hot seller. 4 bedrooms with nice roses wrapping around the side and front of the property. Actual vintage-y roses with real rose fragrance! Asking price to be determined, but more than $750,000.

San Diego/92105/Ridge View — this home is SO incredible and may be — no IS! — a once in a generation opportunity. The seller has lived in the property for over 50 years. Need I say more? 3 beds and 2 baths. 180 degree views, large (large) lot, vintage charm throughout, fireplace, wonderful garage, AND a delightful seller and family. Asking price to be determined, but more than $400,000.

Chula Vista — west of the 805. No crazy Mello-Roos taxes, yay! Another seller moving to be closer to family, this property is on a large lot with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. As the family preps the home for sale with Blend’s help, price is being discussed…thoughts so far…around $400,000. Talk to Kerry about this gem: Kerry(at)blendrealestate.com.

As the details of these listings get formalized, we’ll bring them to you in all their glory with our photography.

Stay tuned!

Kimberly Dotseth

broker/owner

Blend Real Estate

(858) 452-2599

Kimberly(at)blendrealestate.com

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Real Estate Photography – Making It Better

DSC_0032At Blend Real Estate, we pride ourselves on what we like to call nearly exquisite real estate photography, the pride and joy of — me. Before I was a real estate broker/owner, I was in commercial real estate but equal to that was my involvement in the arts. My background is layered and complicated in the arts in the most fun way: art student, photography student, darkroom worker, photography museum docent for twenty-years. College lecturer on how to get your art into galleries. Art collector. Then the deepest vortex of them all, fine art photography gallery owner & curator in the 1990s and into the 2000s as a private photo dealer. The gallery was the most fun (Red Venus Gallery in Little Italy in San Diego), and it was another outlet for me to expand upon my love of photography.

As the real estate business grew, so did my photography expansion. In my Instagram account, part of my bio is “camera buyer.” That is putting it mildly.

To have my own brokerage AND high-end photography equipment for my brokerage’s listings is about as cool as it gets for me. That’s the background.

Bringing us back to the topic of real estate photos now, we tend to be extremely compulsive. Count on upwards of 200 photos taken of your home.

We (well, I) insist on complete privacy. No one can be in the home while I am working, so I am free to be absolutely quiet and move things around and make extreme mental notes as to where it all went – then put it back precisely.

The photos are taken with a Nikon D5000 SLR camera body, a Tamron 10-24mm ultra wide angle lens and occasionally a Nikor 50mm lens. The other equipment is a large boom flash, a light diffuser which is mandatory, tripod and other various goodies too geeky to explain.

The photos are edited in Google’s free photo software, Picasa. When the discussion comes around to “What’s your favorite real estate tool,” people expect me to say a phone or iPad or computer or …. just anything but Picasa. But Picasa my answer. My business is far less happy and perfect without it.

We ask homeowners to make the house as clean as possible. When we enter (and I may have one person helping me), the biggest obstacle is seeing things that buyers don’t need to see in the finished product. So here’s what we typically remove from the view shot:

  • Everything on every counter. Every single thing.
  • Kleenex and all paper products
  • Hand soap
  • Trash cans
  • Often all bath towels unless brand new
  • Shoes
  • Shoe mats
  • Anything on tables
  • Remotes
  • Blankets
  • Pillows
  • Sofa decorations
  • Coffee table…everything goes
  • Knick-knacks
  • Books that aren’t already shelved. Shelves books will be fussed at in detail to make sure they’re perfect.
  • Pets – they tend to photo bomb every photo so they either are in every photo, or they’re with the homeowner on an outing. I have had it happen both ways.

Every single light in the house is turned on, including appliance lights.

Believe it or not, this all takes a lot of time and we don’t expect home owners to do any of this, as it’s unnatural. So we need about three hours to photograph a home that is upwards of 2,000 square feet. More house; more time. I always need at least three hours alone, even on a smaller place.

(Exception to the rules above: tenant-occupied properties. There, we only touch the trash and some small basics. We do NOT touch their belongings. The photo for this post was from a tenant-occupied listing.)

We will move everything humanly possible in a backyard, not limited to: basketball hoops if portable, toys, broken anything, trip hazards, trash, lawn items, mowers, — you get it.

The most amazing thing nature can gift me with in a photo shoot is sunlight. Streaks of sun in a window are a GIFT and I take it. Scheduled photo shoots around the best time of the day in the house is Question 1.

“When does the sun shine in your house best?” You’ll know the answer.

It’s hard to admit this, but I know how to make a house look better than it really looks in person. You’ll have to deal with that, buyers. My job is to make a property look amazing and I am going to spend hours compulsively working on this. If by some outside chance you’re a little disappointed when you get to the home because the photos were too good (you never know), then I am happy you came to tour the property.

I work for my sellers and believe me, they love my photos. If the photos generate interest, we’re halfway there. The language of the listing online is another artform that I shall save for another post, but they go hand-in-hand.

After a photo shoot, I will have notes for the sellers on little things I insist upon for this home during the listing. I will save those juicy little details for another post too, but they’re friendly and helpful and make a WORLD of difference in a buyer’s eyes. Some things are weird, but all are critical.

What can you do to help me on the day of photography? Besides keeping your house clean and as picked up as possible, just let me work in peace, so I can turn out a product that we’re both proud of.

No one loves real estate and photography more than me. I love it when my worlds collide. With very few exceptions, our listings sell in 6 – 13 days and I think the photography is why. Where’s my next assignment for real estate pictures in San Diego?

 

 

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