The Importance of Curb Appeal

Have you ever taken a client to see a home, only to have them say they don’t even want to go inside?  Small, inexpensive upgrades can make a huge difference when it’s time to list. When it comes to curb appeal, Michigan Institute of Real Estate knows how to make your clients’ home stand out.


It may seem like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how few homes on the market have greenery (and no, the lawn doesn’t count!). You don’t have to call in the landscaping professionals and spend $10,000 to make a home look great. Add a hanging basket, some mulch and plants, or even a flower pot to give the home a natural look without breaking the bank.

The Front Door

The front door is the focal point of the exterior of a home. You can pick up a brand new door from or for just $200-$300. Suggest that your client grab a bright or bold colored paint and add a wreath for an entrance sure to attract home buyers. This small investment can translate to thousands in their pocket at closing!

Outdoor Lighting

Once a house has a great curb appeal, show it off! Outdoor lighting adds an elegant touch as well as safety and security. For an easy upgrade with no wiring involved, you can purchase solar lights to illuminate a walkway or front porch. Check out some of Wayfair’s options here:

More Than a Mailbox

Your client’s mailbox doesn’t have to be just a functional item, it can be a stellar statement piece as well! Dress up a mailbox with a newly painted wooden post and a garden bed surrounding it. Pro tip: Paint the mailbox to match the exterior of the home!

When you think of what a buyer may ask for, it’s typically things like an updated kitchen, a certain number of bedrooms, or a finished basement. But first impressions matter, and can instantly turn a perfect home into one that a buyer will run from. Homes with great curb appeal get more offers and sell faster than homes with a plain exterior. Remember, it’s not always what’s on the inside that counts!

For more tips on how to get your listing sold fast, keep checking the Michigan Institute of Real Estate Blog. See you next time!

Ready to begin your real estate career? Click here for a list of upcoming courses!

How Real Estate Agents Can Keep Their Client’s Information Secure During the Home Buying Process

This summer, the Equifax data breach scandal reached its much-anticipated conclusion, with the company now required to pay upwards of 600 million dollars to those affected by the crisis. In 2017, the world was stunned when the customer data for major credit reporting company Equifax was leaked, exposing the personal information of over 140 million customers, who often had to spend money they didn’t have to fix the situation.

For many, seeing this scary and shocking data breach back in the news has been a sobering wake-up call. We’re in 2019, and technology is incredibly advanced: it allows for significant societal advances, but it also, unfortunately, lends itself to some “dark magic” as well. 

With more and more data flowing through our devices and daily lives, a number of industries are increasingly being targetted by scammers and frauds. The real estate industry, which inevitably involves a large amount of paperwork and data-sharing, has been copping its fair share of identity fraud and theft scams. As a real estate agent or industry member, it’s likely to be a frightening concept— but this is something you can and should prepare for! Though taking important precautions can’t guarantee a breach-free existence, it certainly lessens your chances of dealing with fraud. 

Looking for a few ways for realtors to keep their client data secure? Read on.

1. Stay in Communication— and be Honest!

You are your client’s liaison between their family and their home— future or present. They deserve the best security possible and, at the very least, the full scoop on what sort of threats they might face in the buying process. Make sure they are informed about the current identity theft scams currently affecting the real estate world, so they know what to look out for. 

2. Go With an “IT Crowd” you can Trust

It’s wise to let the tech pros at an IT agency work with your devices and information but take care to properly “vet” them. They’ll have access to all of your business and client data, and it’s crucial those don’t fall into the wrong hands! When choosing an IT agency, ensure that your hiring team gives every candidate a thorough interview and checks all their references. If possible, speak to other companies who have utilized their services.

3. Don’t Connect to Unknown Networks

WiFi is popping up more and more, and can now be found in many public spaces. The same goes for outlets and USB ports— it’s easy to stay connected anywhere! The problem with these public connection networks is that we don’t always know what’s on the other side of the “wire.” A public WiFi network or USB point can open your device up to hackers, who can mine your clients’ personal information for their own nefarious gain. So, though it may be tempting to finish those work emails on the free train WiFi heading home, it might be best to wait until you’re actually using your personal network. 

4. Make it Personal

Though it is often quicker and “easier” to have your clients submit their housing application and other related paperwork to you digitally, it might not be the most secure choice. These applications contain very sensitive data that could potentially get intercepted by hackers if sent digitally. Instead, invite your client to your office, or meet them in-person for these exchanges. Sure, it takes longer— but not as long as it would take to deal with their identity being stolen.

5. Be Password Savvy

Would you leave your house key in the door, open to intruders? No! So, why would you choose an easy-to-guess password? It’s a great idea to keep your digital client data in a locked file, but ensure that the password isn’t easy to crack. Easily Googled information about you or your business should be off the table for your passwords— think birthdays, mascots, significant people or locations, or taglines should all be avoided.

6. Don’t Go Obsolete 

Is out of date software putting you at risk? Generally, updates come with stronger firewalls and more advanced security and data protection. (Also, you might find that your devices run quicker and more effectively!) 

7. Be Conservative with your WiFi

Is your WiFi router protected? Whether your office is in a highly congested business area, or on a country road, chances are, there’s somebody trying to connect to the internet near you. Maybe they’re just passing through, maybe they’re settled in with their computer, or maybe they’re even a scammer— you don’t know. To avoid strangers getting into your network, and potentially harvesting your information that way, keep your internet connection on a tight lockdown, with a random, difficult-to-guess password.  Generally, once your trusted sources are connected, they won’t need to type it in again— so an “annoying,” difficult to remember password is perfect for this.

Building your client’s trust begins with getting the proper licensing and filling your resume with advanced training. But in order to secure their trust throughout the entire sales process it’s critical to ensure that you’re taking the necessary precautions that come with business operations in the digital age.

Written by Haley Kieser.

Welcome to the Digital Age: Sentri Lockboxes

By now you’ve probably heard about the newest technology in the real estate world: Sentri Key by Sentri Lock. Complete with an app available on iPhone and Android, the new Sentri Key lockboxes have added much needed security to the traditional lockbox. If you’re still unclear on what Sentri Key is, Michigan Institute of Real Estate has all of the latest information to get you up to date.

With traditional lockboxes, the code typically remains the same throughout the listing period. That means that dozens of agents can access your clients’ home at any time, and less than ethical agents could give out the code to anyone they want. Though there are laws and consequences in place to prevent this, there is never any guarantee that your client won’t be a victim. The Sentri Key Lockbox system requires an agent to open an app each time they access the home, and hold their phone up to the lockbox to open it. The unique “code” is only usable during the agent’s showing window, and only if the showing has been approved by the listing agent. The app requires an MLS subscription, which can only be granted to real estate agents with an active license.

So you would think that every real estate agent would be excited to introduce this new technology to clients, right? Wrong.

The SentriKey system has been met with both celebration and pushback by many local realtors, with many still using traditional lockboxes. Unfortunately, with only some agents getting on board with the new system, agents that like Sentri Lockboxes are more hesitant to use them. While many agree that they add much needed security for clients, the system only works well if the majority of agents use them. Between bugs and tech failures during the launch phase, and the resistance to a big change, some realtors just don’t want to bother with the new Sentri Lockboxes. Agents fear that if they use a Sentri Lockbox for their listing, realtors that haven’t set up their Sentri account yet will avoid showing the listing. Of course, the only way to combat that problem, is for EVERYONE to embrace Sentri Key.

So how can you help change the real estate world and bring secure Sentri Lockboxes into everyday use? It’s simple: Set up your Sentri Key account! Local brokers have been given a box of these new innovative lockboxes to help their agents get started. Here’s some more information from Realcomp on how to start using the Sentri Key System:

Now that you’re up to date with the latest technology, brush up on your sales skills with our recent blog entry: Increase Your Sales by Getting Rid of Selling

Still have questions? Call your MLS provider or comment below for assistance from the greatest teachers in real estate, at Michigan Institute of Real Estate. Online, in-person, and at-home classes are available at We’ll post the latest real estate info on our blog as it becomes available!

Thanks for reading!

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