Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lawn Care Tips

A lush lawn is not something the average homeowner thinks about before the Spring.  But once the trees start blooming and your grass isn’t quite coming in how you imagined it; time to hit your local home store.  Here are a few tips and tricks to get the most out of your lawn while it’s still early.

     First and foremost, get local advice pertaining to the growing conditions in your area.  There isn’t one fertilizer, one weed killer or one grass seed that works for every lawn.  Get customized solutions for your region. Talk to an expert at your garden center or call your agricultural extension service.
     Apply a pre-emergent herbicide to your lawn after the second mow of the spring.  This will prevent seeds scattered in previous years from germinating, which is where crabgrass grows from.  As the seeds remain viable for a few years, it’s a good idea to apply the herbicide every spring.  Making a preemptive strike on crabgrass will save you tons of hassle later, trying to fight it back in the heat of summer.
     Don’t over stress about the shady part of your lawn.  Many people over water and over fertilize these shady areas, because it seems that the grass is having trouble growing.  In fact, it’s these measures that prevent it from growing to it’s potential.  Shady areas need less water because the sun doesn’t evaporate it as quickly and less fertilizer because without sun, it doesn’t grow as much.  Cut your fertilizer amount to about half of what you’d use for a sunny spot.
     Cut your lawn the right length.  Cutting your lawn too short can weaken the grass and allow weeds to dominate.  Finding the right length for your grass variety will allow it to grow thick and lush while crowding out more established weeds.  Adjust your lawn mower to the right height for your variety.
     If you’re really having trouble with growing grass, check your soil's pH.  Most home centers sell pH testing kits, however, using an extension service can guarantee more accurate results.  For growing grass, soil needs to be a pH between 6.0 to 7.2.  Add lime to raise the pH, add iron to lower your pH.
     Cut down on your lawn care by planning ahead.  It’s generally recommended that you fertilize four times a year for the best lawn ever, but if you want those results with less work and more cost efficiency all you have to do is fertilize once in the fall!  Fertilizing about 3 weeks before the last mow of the season will give your grass stored nutrients throughout the winter.   It will help feed the growing root system as the temperature cools before the grass becomes dormant.  Those stored nutrients will give your grass a burst of energy come next spring.

Having a healthy lawn not only makes your home look great, it becomes an inviting place for your children to play, or the perfect place to have an afternoon picnic.  A healthy lawn is the best weed preventer of all.  A thick lawn crowds out weeds without having to use a lot of chemicals to prevent them. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Help The 2015 VLA Class Make Dreams Come True

War is hot topic in our country and no matter where you stand on the matter, it is important to recognize that the individuals that keep our country safe are people to admire. We sometimes forget what these people sacrifice in order to be in the armed forces. A lot of the time their sacrifices include: being away from their families and homes for long periods of time, being surrounded by the unfamiliar and in some cases, getting badly injured on the job. Calling it a job is not enough though, what they do is something beyond that. Their jobs can not only take an emotional toll on them by it can scar them physically for life. It’s almost strange to think about this because we go on with our everyday lives, most of us being healthy, having a roof over our heads and being surrounded by loved ones. This isn’t always the case for these guys even they when they return home.

Not only is this charity the one that I have picked for this month and will donate directly to in the month of May, but it is also one that I working on with the Virginia Association of Realtors 2015 Leadership Academy. This Academy is held once every two years and they only pick twenty agents from the state of Virginia to be a part of it. I feel very honored to have been chosen to be a part of this group of extraordinary Realtors, honestly I don’t think we could’ve picked a better charity myself.

From their website

"The veterans for whom Homes for Our Troops builds homes are among the nation’s most severely injured, with missing limbs, varying levels of paralysis, and traumatic brain injury. Homes for Our Troops assists these veterans and their families by raising money and by providing building materials and professional labor to coordinate the construction of a home that provides maximum freedom of movement and the ability to live more independently. HFOT provides these homes at no cost to the veterans."

What’s so incredible about HFOT is not only that they provide housing for these veterans but they actually take into consideration some of their newly developed disabilities and implement solutions so they can live their lives with a sense of independence. Upgrades to homes to cater to those with disabilities can be extremely costly, it may be very hard for some of these veterans to afford some of those modifications on their own.

Please share this information with those around you. Our donation page is up and running right now, and we’re looking to raise at least $50k. Make sure to use my name Rhonda Howlett in the comments once you donate, not only will you be helping someone in need but it is a donation that is tax deductible.

Click here to donate now


Friday, May 15, 2015

Seminar Recap: A Little Bit of Effort Goes a Long Way

     I had a wonderful time, as always, at my marketing seminar yesterday morning.  Thank you for all who came, first timers or multiple attendees, it was great seeing you!  For those who couldn’t make it, here’s just a taste of what I went over, so you can use them in your own business practices.

Don’t stall, make the initial contact.  Follow up as soon as you can with a lead.  The faster you reach out the better the return.  

Leave it open, so they can open up.  Always let the client talk first.  You may be able to help them in more ways than they realize.  Even if they’ve emailed you about something specific, when you make the follow up call ask them how you can help and then listen.

Show one house—no matter what.  A lot of other agents, after finding out a client isn’t pre-approved or doesn’t meet criteria deemed “serious,” stop paying attention.  I say, don’t ignore that opportunity.  That client will remember you as someone that helped them when others had turned them away.  You don’t have to go too far and show them all 10 houses they’re interested in.  Tell them to pick their favorite.

Separate yourself from the competition.   Use product knowledge, like what can save them money, their loan options and subsequently what types of properties they qualify for to set you apart.  Customize their experience and let them know you’re looking out for them, not just the sale.  Also, keep client folders and buyer info sheets.  These will help you maintain accurate information that will put that personal touch on interactions with your clients.

These are just some of the things I went over in the seminar yesterday, of course there are more tips in store.  Hopefully this little morsel will get you to come to my next one!  Can’t wait to see you!  Oh, and maybe Darby and I will have another Rap Battle for your pleasure ;p


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Charity of the Month - Charles City Panthers

You know, I usually do one charity a month and I typically pick charities that have very heavy subjects attached to them. Whether it is helping to improve the lives of the needy or help find a cure for disease, I want to make sure that my donations go to meaningful causes. However, every once in a while, I like to pick things that are just good for the community. I like the idea of sponsoring a local kids sports team because I know how important health, fitness and sports are for someone to build character. Before I was in Real Estate, I used to run a gym for many years. I was very passionate about it. I think that there is a lot to learn from sports, it's about team building and learning to work with others when you share a common goal. This is especially true when it comes to football. 

For this month’s charity, I have picked the Charles City Panthers. They needed help to cover all the fees involved with getting uniforms and some operating costs. It was surprising to see that these kids sometimes don’t have all the things they need in order to successfully play a sport and this donation just facilitates their ability to do so. I am really happy that I am able to contribute every month to a different charity, if I was able to make a small dent in just one of these kid's lives, then that donation was worth it.

If you'd like to learn a little more about the Panthers, make sure to visit their school website. They are pretty good about keeping track of games going on and past scores. Visit their page by clicking right here. 

I am always looking for new and creative ways in making a difference, so if you think of a charity that I think I should donate to, please make sure to shoot me an email

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

About Last Night... #OutstandingProductionAwards

My career in Real Estate has not been a long one, but I have set goals every day, month and even year for myself. I won't say that it is easy or that I did it alone because i'd be lying. Real Estate is hard work, you have to be everywhere at once and you have to do some unexpected things - I wear multiple hats, including: relationship counselor, contractor, and financial advisor. I work around the clock, at all times of the day and night - but honestly I couldn't imagine myself doing anything else. 

2014 was especially great. I reached Emerald status with the Richmond Association of Realtors ®. In order to qualify someone has to sell a "Net Volume of 6.0-7.99 Millions Dollars - 53.99 units." The categories are as follow: Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Emerald and Ruby. I can't wait to see what this year has in store for me and I am making it my personal goal to reach Ruby status by the end of it. So wish me luck every body, it already has been a heck of a year! 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Renting Out Vs. Flipping and Selling

     So, you already know that you want to invest in real estate. A lot of investors are looking to buy properties at highly discounted rates that need a little bit of work. Once you buy, is it smarter to flip a property and sell it or would it be better to rent it out? 

     First rule of thumb for any investment is buy at a discount.  Before entering into any financial venture, you want to realistically (not just hopefully, in all around best case scenarios) estimate what your return will be versus what you have to put into the property to get it’s new appraisal value.  When you buy low it puts you at a better leverage point financially to come out on top.  That being said, you want to make sure the low price your getting won’t be undermined by the amount of work and capital you have to put into the property.  Time and condition are two major factors in real estate investment return.  But, getting ahead of myself, before finding the perfect property for it’s purpose, ask yourself what type of investor you want to be.

     Flipping houses and becoming a landlord requires completely different mindsets and temperaments.  It’s similar to the tortoise and the hare.  The hare has tons of boundless energy hopping from one project to the next while the tortoise is satisfied with the stability of monthly cash flow.  In our story, they both win the race. 

     While the biggest impressions of career house flippers is that they’re risk takers, there’s a good amount of risk that goes along with renting as well.  One of the front runners is being able to handle evictions.  If you rent for long enough you will run into this problem eventually and may even be sympathetic to their case.  Single mothers, elderly tenants and every likable character in the book, it's likely you’ll have to evict somebody one day.  Another risk is managing your liability.  Flipping a vacant home carries less liability than if a renter associates an accident or injury to your property.  Handling the liability disputes takes finesse and careful planning.  In many cases, landlords can make their properties into separate entities so one lawsuit doesn’t bring all of your investments down.  Careless or irresponsible tenants aside, as a landlord you will never quite be “on vacation.”  If there is a problem in one of your properties, you need to be available to handle any emergencies.

     With all the risks in mind, it is also important to note that land owning is one of the most historical sources of wealth. Being able to pass the land and business down from one generation to another provides a legacy that you can’t quite get with flipping.  Having a stable flow of income among other investment projects can provide a buffer by quite literally, buying you time.  If you are a young first time investor, perhaps it is not a priority to build your rental portfolio. Indeed, as your investment projects expand, it could provide the mortar for your other capital investments.