Jeff Shauger, Associate Broker, ABR, CDPE, CRS, ePRO, GRI , SRES, SRS
Jeff Shauger, Associate Broker, ABR, CDPE, CRS, ePRO, GRI , SRES, SRS

Jeff's Blog

Survey Finds 87 Percent of Consumers Won't Buy on Facebook

November 4, 2011 9:18 pm

A recent survey conducted found that 87% of tech-savvy consumers would not buy anything through Facebook.

The panel, consisting of 50 men and 50 women, all of whom are professionals in technology oriented disciplines, was surveyed in regards to their attitudes toward Social CRM, the practice among companies of using Facebook, or other social networks, to offer customer care, provide support and sell products. The survey asked whether panelists would interact with their communications service providers through Facebook to buy something; pay a bill; resolve a problem; complain publicly; recommend their services; or none of the above. Respondents were invited to select any and all responses that applied. Only 13% of all respondents, 12% of men, and 14% of women responded that they would “buy something” through Facebook. Eighty-seven percent of all respondents did not select this option.

“This study suggests that Facebook has work to do to convince consumers that it will protect their personal financial information and transactions,” says Ed Finegold, producer and editor of BillingViews. “We set out to find attitudes on the use of Social CRM by communications providers, but were met with this consistent sentiment of distrust toward Facebook when it comes to money.”

Panelists were invited to provide additional comments on any aspect of the survey they wished. Of the 28 who commented, 13 – or 42% – stated specifically that they would not make any sort of purchases through Facebook because they do not trust it or do not believe it has sufficient security to protect transactions or personal financial information.

Additional findings from the survey include:

• 60% of those surveyed would recommend a communications provider’s services on Facebook, though women were more likely to do so than men.
• 58% of respondents, and an equal number of men and women, said they would use Facebook to complain publicly about their communications providers.
• 45% of respondents said they would use Facebook as a means to interact with their communications providers to solve a problem, though women were more likely to do so.
• 27% of respondents, a majority of which were men, said they would not use Facebook to interact with their communications providers.

The full results of the survey, part of BillingViews’ ongoing series on Social CRM in Communications, are available at

Fire Escape Plans: The Difference Between Life and Death

November 3, 2011 9:18 pm

In the unfortunate event of a fire in your home, every second counts when trying to get your family to safety. In mere minutes, a house can be filled with thick, suffocating smoke and engulfed in flames. Having a fire escape plan for your family is crucial to your survival should tragedy strike. Follow these tips in case a fire should occur in your home.

Start exiting immediately as soon as there's evidence of a fire. Do not waste time trying to save property. Depending on the circumstance, you may need to crawl low under the smoke. Remember to keep your mouth covered as smoke inhalation can disorient or even cause you to faint. The quicker you start exiting, the better.

Never open doors with hot door knobs. Using the back of your hand, test each knob before opening doors. You can also check for heat through the cracks of the doors. If you don't feel any warmth, open the entry carefully, but if there is evidence of a fire on the other side, use another alternative.

Once your family reaches safety, stay out. Escaping is your first priority. Choose a spot outside away from the home where your entire family can meet. Designate one family member to find a phone and call 911. Never go back into your home for any reason. Teach children not to hide from firefighters. If firemen need to do an emergency rescue, children need to know to trust them.

By practicing your escape plan with your family, you can ensure that every member knows multiple routes out of the home in case a fire wreaks havoc. Secondary routes can be created using collapsible ladders to escape from upper stories. Keep spare ladders on each floor of the home, and make sure the ladders fit your windows before purchasing them. Periodically check your windows to make sure none are jammed and that they open easily.

You can never be over-prepared for an emergency like a house fire. By mapping out your exit strategy, educating family members and purchasing escape ladders for worst-case-scenarios, you can keep your entire family safe in the wake of an unpredictable fire in your home.


More Americans are Staying Put

November 3, 2011 9:18 pm

Fewer Americans are heading south to warmer temperatures than they did prior to the recession, according to a new study by the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. Researchers evaluated three years' worth of data to reveal this new trend in U.S. migration patterns.

Due to factors like the slowly-recovering housing market and a weakened employment picture, Americans are fonder of staying put rather than moving south. Although states such as Nevada, Arizona and Florida have had fewer residents enter their state since the beginning of the recession, experts say this decline will soon start to level off. State such as Massachusetts, California and New York, states whose residents had been packing up and moving, are now seeing far fewer declines in population throughout colder months.

For example, Florida had a net migration gain of 209,000 in 2005, but a loss of 30,000 in 2009, according to the study. On the other hand, New York had a net loss of 71,000 migrants in 2009, a drastic shift from the 170,000 migrants it lost in 2005. Likewise, California saw its loss of migrants shrink to 71,000 in 2009 from 201,000 in 2005.


Trends Impacting Future Home Exterior Colors and Materials

November 3, 2011 9:18 pm

Homeowners tend to have conflicting emotions regarding their homes during economically challenging times. Wanting to embrace their need for change and feel positive about their living space, homeowners frequently want to purchase new products, while remaining financially and environmentally responsible. The marketplace is now seeing a shift to homeowners looking for items that have high value and a long lifespan.

“People are educating themselves more these days on the impact a single purchase will have on thems and on the environment,” says Kate Smith, president of Sensational Color. “For example, a homeowner may desire real wood shake shingles on a roof, but they understand the lifespan of those roofing shingles is extremely limited. They’re thinking twice about how many trees would need to be harvested to make those wood shingles.

Smith has identified several key trends related to exterior home products and colors, including:

Trend #1 – Living Simply in a Complex World –The desire for a more streamlined life motivates people to select modern technology, products and materials that make our complex lives easier.

Trend #2 – Give Me More “Me Time” – Younger buyers are now changing their home buying strategies. These individuals are embracing older homes that they can personalize by adding newer products that require minimal maintenance. They’re looking for products that help blend the older bones of a home with their modern sensibilities in order to provide a sense of connection to history and their community.

Trend #3 – Rules are Made to be Broken – Today’s homeowners are making their own rules. In the coming years, look for unusual mixing of materials and colors in ways communities haven’t previously seen. Homeowners want their homes to reflect their personalities, but they also want to express themselves on the exterior of the home.

Trend #4 – Naturally Inspired and Improved – Colors and materials that harmonize with the natural surroundings of a home are increasingly important to homeowners. Homeowners are basing their purchasing decisions on their increased understanding that the manufactured products they select will have a longer life span, thus reducing the need for replacement. And, in many situations, these man-made products that look, feel and have natural colors incorporated, require less maintenance and reduce the negative impact on the environment.

Trend #5 – Inside Out Harmony –Regional colors and materials on a home exterior help anchor people to their community, providing a unity within a neighborhood or subdivision. In many cases, homeowners are also bringing the outside indoors by adding plant walls, gardens and water features into the home. On the exterior, they’re adding fire pit areas, and outdoor living and dining room spaces that blur the boundaries of the living both inside and outside the home.

Smith predicts that many of these trends will take off between 2012-2015. For more on color selection for the home, visit

Explore Various Options to Move with Ease

November 2, 2011 9:16 pm

By Nick Caruso

Whether you're moving in state or across the country, there are many different options for those seeking professional moving help. For those on a budget, full-service moves may be too pricey, while doing everything yourself is back-breaking and tiresome without an army of friends bribed by beer and pizza. Fortunately, there is a middle ground—moving labor services.

Halfway between full service and DIY, moving labor services allow you to hire and pay only for the services you need and want. Relocation breaks down these services into the following three options: rental trucks, portable storage containers and space rental in commercial trailers.

For in-state moves, a rental truck might be all you need. For a couple hundred dollars (depending on the company), you might be able to complete your move with a single truck and a couple of hours. After renting the vehicle, you can hire moving labor to load and unload it for you. You can even hire them for additional services, such as driving the rental truck for you for an additional fee. For short moves, hired help and a rental truck may be all you need to get the job done.

For temporary storage, you may want to consider renting a portable service container. The container company delivers a container for you to fill up however you'd like. They then pick it up and store it for however long you need and then deliver it back to you at your new address. With this option, you can either load it yourself or hire help to do it for you. You can even split the labor between hired help and your own hard work. These containers are a great option—the company takes care of the entire method of transportation and you only worry about loading and unloading.

What many movers fail to utilize is rented space in commercial trailers. For long-distance moves, you can rent part of a trailer to move your belongings. Trailers are split up and shared amongst many customers so that the cost is shared and cheaper for all involved. Moving labor can be hired to help you unload your share, providing you with a cost effective way to transport your things and preventing you from having to drive cross-country yourself.

There are many different options available to you when planning for your next big move. With hired moving labor and a variety of transportation options, any mover can find a method that suits his or her specific needs and budget.

Common Home Defects All Buyers and Sellers Should Be Aware Of

November 2, 2011 9:16 pm

Home defects come in all shapes and sizes. From structural problems to air flow and ventilation issues, a lot of things can go wrong with your home. Whether you're buying or selling your home, or simply staying put, you should be aware of some of the common home defects that abound so you can fix them quickly and easily before they become catastrophes.

Poor Drainage

Poor drainage is the most common problem found by home inspectors. To improve your drainage, you may have to install a new system of eaves, troughs and downspouts to better aim water away from the house. Inadequate drainage can be a devastating defect. Water can damage basements, garages and crawl spaces, compromising the foundation of the home and creating mold. Taking care of this issue is of dire importance, and buyers should avoid purchasing homes that may have drainage problems.

Rotted Wood

Another important defect to watch out for is rotted wood, both inside and outside the home. Wood exposed to excess moisture is bound to rot. This can happen in bathrooms, on flooring or even in the kitchen. Find these problem areas in your home and protect them with a special paint or finish. Don't forget to check your deck and outside trim as well.

Bad Roofing

Always be attentive of a structure's roof. Damaged shingles or improperly installed flashing are severe warning signs that trouble lurks ahead. Check for leaky ceilings as a sign of a damaged roof. Repairing the roof is crucial in order to prevent further damage later. Although it may be an expensive repair, it's always best to take care of it before it affects other parts of the home.

Inadequate Ventilation
Without proper ventilation, a build-up of moisture can attack a home's interior walls and structural components. Ventilation fans are a good idea for bathrooms without windows, and opening all of the home's windows during bouts of good weather also helps keep the air moving. Doing so can help prevent drywall replacements or other more expensive structural replacements. Find out the best way to keep your house ventilated and keep that air flowing.

Poor Overall Maintenance
Has the house been properly maintained over the years? How confident are you in the previous owner's repair skills? Sometimes improper maintenance can affect many parts of the home, such as the plumbing and electrical systems. Scope out any makeshift repairs and have a professional take a look, if necessary. Faulty wiring jobs and plumbing situations are not cases to be taken lightly. If a house doesn't look well-kept, this may be reason enough to send buyers running.

With the proper maintenance, any home defect can be righted to ensure a safe living environment for any family.

For more information, visit and

Celebrate Caregivers' Month with Tips and Tweets

November 2, 2011 9:16 pm

In commemoration of National Family Caregiver’s Month beginning November 1, the CareGiver Partnership will Tweet daily healthy tips for caregivers throughout the month.

“Because being a family caregiver requires a high level of compassion and personal sacrifice, it’s easy to neglect one’s own health and interests, and that can lead to burn-out,” says Lynn Wilson, co-founder of The CareGiver Partnership.

To remind caregivers to take care of themselves in order to effectively care for others, the Partnership offers the following tips as a starting point:

• Keep a journal in which you can acknowledge your feelings and plan the week’s activities.
• Stay connected through online resources, such as forums, Facebook communities and Twitter feeds.
• Spend unhurried quality time with your loved one. Look at photos, read or just talk.
• Tell family members you may need help at some point and you expect them to pitch in.
• Strike a balance between caring for your loved one and caring for yourself. Make sure to set aside alone time to unwind.
• Utilize respite care services for short-term needs. Doing so will give you time for errands or caring for your own family.

When caring for others, caregivers sometimes neglect their own health. It is vital for caregivers to take steps to make time to care for themselves. Follow Caregiver Tweets ( for daily help and inspiration, or visit for more information.

Maintain Your Fireplace and Keep It Safe

November 1, 2011 9:16 pm

Homeowners are now getting ready to put their fireplaces to good use. Heed the following safety tips to help aid in the prevention of chimney fires and carbon monoxide intrusion, and to help keep heating appliances and fireplaces functioning properly.

1. Get an annual chimney check. Have chimneys inspected annually, and cleaned as necessary, by a qualified professional chimney service technician. This reduces the risk of fires and carbon monoxide poisonings due to creosote buildup or obstructions in the chimneys.

2. Keep it clear. Keep tree branches and leaves at least 15 feet away from the top of the chimney.

3. Install a chimney cap to keep debris and animals out of the chimney.

4. Choose the right fuel. For burning firewood in wood stoves or fireplaces, choose well seasoned wood that has been split for a minimum of six months to one year and stored in a covered and elevated location. Never burn Christmas trees or treated wood in your fireplace or wood stove.

5. Build it right. Place firewood or firelogs at the rear of the fireplace on a supporting grate. To start the fire, use kindling or a commercial firelighter. Never use flammable liquids.

6. Keep the hearth area clear. Combustible material too close to the fireplace, or to a wood stove, could easily catch fire. Keep furniture at least 36” away from the hearth.

7. Use a fireplace screen. Use metal mesh or a screen in front of the fireplace to catch flying sparks that could ignite or burn holes in the carpet or flooring.

8. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Place detectors throughout the house and check batteries in the spring and fall. When you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time, remember to check your batteries.

9. Never leave a fire unattended. Before heading to bed, be sure that the fire is fully extinguished. Supervise children and pets closely around wood stoves and fireplaces.

For more information, visit

Five Tips for a Show-stopping Fall Landscape

November 1, 2011 9:16 pm

Kids are back at school, football games have kicked off and in some parts of the country leaves are falling. Even with brisk temperatures on their way, anyone can create a beautiful fall landscape by giving show-stopping plants center stage in the garden. Landscape designers from around the country offer these tips to create a show-stopping fall garden you will enjoy for years to come.

1. Consider Your Space
There is never a dull moment in the fall landscape. Consider what shapes and colors currently exist in your garden. "Although we may lose some of the plant material framework in the garden during the autumn months, we gain fall foliage color, sculptural shapes of the deciduous trees and shrubs, and the architectural details become the focal point. If a garden is pleasing to look at or walk through in autumn or winter it is usually because of the use of space--patterns created by paths or walls, shapes of plant material and the silhouettes of tree trunks and branches," says landscape designer Suzanne Arca.

2. Do Your Homework
Visit your local garden center and make a list of your favorite plants and color combinations. The colors and combinations of plants can give you inspiration and highlight what is available.

3. Plant Trees and Shrubs Now

Plant now to give plants plenty of time to establish roots before summer. Planting in the fall lets your plants have months to settle in before the heat of summer.

4. Try Something New
Laura Kuhn, a professional landscape designer in Arlington, Massachusetts reflects on fall landscapes with a unique perspective. “Interest can be created by what you don’t do rather than what you do, so think about implementing a low-maintenance plan for garden care: leave seed heads and stems on the plants to create instant ornamental appeal,” says Kuhn.

5. Avoid Common Mistakes
Avoid common mistakes that can work against your hard work in the garden. Mulch pushed up against a tree trunk ensures that a moist environment will ensue, thus providing the perfect environment for diseases and pests. Instead, create a saucer with the mulch to trap water and give the tree some breathing room.

For more information and for help finding a professional landscaper, visit

Do's and Don'ts of Black Friday Shopping

November 1, 2011 9:16 pm

It's been predicted that more people than ever will be out shopping on Black Friday this year, and those shoppers will be looking for better deals than ever due to the shaky economy. Although many Black Friday sales will attempt to point shoppers in the right direction of the best deals, buyers are urged to really compare prices when shopping for the right gifts.

Don't assume that a Black Friday deal is the best find out there. Here are a few tips to help you while shopping on one of the busiest days of the year:

-Don't automatically assume that everything in a Black Friday ad is a genuinely good deal. You'll even see items advertised in ads that are at the store's "everyday low price." Do your homework and go after the cream of the crop when it comes to deals.

-Do try to order as much online before leaving the house. Many retailers will put their Black Friday sale online starting as early as Wednesday night. The more you can buy online, the more room you'll have in your trunk for other purchases.

-Don't assume that you'll be able to price match Black Friday ad items at your favorite store. Each store has its own policy, which can sometimes change for Black Friday. Call ahead and speak to a manager to find out exactly what you are allowed to do.

-Do shop with others if possible. Split up purchases between your group into different parts of the store to maximize your chances of getting what you want and minimize the time spent in the crowded store.

For more do's and don'ts, and further tips, visit