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What Matters Warren

A summary of the Shenandoah Valley Real Estate Market and Economic Summit

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WHAT MATTERS Warren – Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research at the National Association of REALTORS (Dr. Lawrence Yun) was keynote speaker at a recent event addressing the Shenandoah Valley’s economy and real estate market. Dr. Yun spoke to a large crowd at Lord Fairfax Community College last Thursday, November 29th, and shared a positive forecast for the local and national economies. In this video, Nancy Silva of the Blue Ridge Association of Realtors (BRAR) asks him to share a message for those who couldn’t attend the BRAR sponsored summit. Following his remarks are a few of the most interesting slides he presented.

Dr. Yun remarked that Seattle has been one of the hottest real estate markets in the country, largely due to Amazon, and he added that Amazon’s local announcement should heartily contribute to the already thriving economic conditions in the surrounding area. He revealed that the greater Winchester area has three times faster growth in comparison with the rest of the country.

The presentation began with confidence that interest rates will not skyrocket as many have feared. He also commented that he feels the real estate market will remain relatively stable and “boring” until at least 2020 as he encouraged long term reflection of positive trends in the face of negative headlines.

Investors and homeowners are doing well over the long term despite the resent lull in the markets, he professed. He attributes the current slowdown largely to the time of year. He said we enjoyed a flurry of great activity in the spring and should not be overly concerned about the recent slowdown. Even though new home sales are at a 4 year low, he insists that the downturn is “not a major crash.” He explained that buyers are burned out from spring bidding wars and are now wanting to see 10+ homes before deciding. He says there’s a lack of inventory of entry level homes and buyers are frustrated.

He elaborated on buyer’s diminished optimism and revealed that expectation surveys are conflicting because despite the recent slump, most people expressed confidence in rising home prices. Dr. Yun is optimistic for a strong spring market despite the fact that, “buyers have retreated and homes are on the market longer.” He encourages current sellers to “give in on prices or wait until the spring.” He suggests that buyers should take advantage of the increased inventory because “more inventory means better deals.” On interest rates, he warned that it’s false hope to think that rates will come down and the question is not if they will lower but how much they will rise.

Dr.Yun is encouraged by the fact that people are paying their mortgages and there are fewer owners facing foreclosure. He reported, “homeownership is making a comeback” and that “home prices are unlikely to drop.” He thinks that real estate trends will be relatively boring through 2020 and confessed that if there is a new bubble, it’s in commercial real estate, not in residential sales. He added that people are staying in their homes longer these days (about 10-11 years) compared to past years in which owners were moving before their 8 year purchase anniversary.

Katrina Meade of City National Bank was in attendance at the summit and had great things to say about his presentation, “I thought it was interesting comparing 2004 (before the bubble) and now – ARM (adjustable rate mortgage) loans made up 28.8% of loan applications in 2004 and now they make up only 6.5% – definitely reflective of marketing/sales/perception issue that we as an industry have to continue to overcome.”

Dr. Yun’s optimism was embraced by his audience as he offered appreciated reassurance in the face of questionable headlines. His insight encourages healthy optimism throughout both the local real estate & economic markets.


A WHAT MATTERS INITIATIVE

Are you or your group in need of a free video that could be created to help market your cause or event?

Beth’s WHAT MATTERS Warren/Town Tip videos post on Facebook and YouTube. They are also shared with Royal Examiner online (most are distributed in their daily email blast to thousands of local residents). Sign up for Royal Examiner Email Alerts HERE and check out the “WHAT MATTERS Warren” tab under “Features.”

Visit www.whatmattersw2.com “Community” section to request a TOWN TIP or WHAT MATTERS WARREN BETHvid.

Learn more Beth’s nonprofit,  WHAT MATTERS, a 501 (c) (3), at www.whatmattersw2.com out the “Community” section to request a TOWN TIP or WHAT MATTERS WARREN BETHvid or contact her at 540-671-6145 or beth@whatmattersw2.com.


About WHAT MATTERS:

WHAT MATTERS is a 501(c)(3) that she started this year to enable people to have the benefit of a tax deduction for their donations through her fundraising matches.

Here is the Current Match Campaign for the children of Bunyade school project.

WHAT MATTERS has ZERO overhead as 100% of the expenses are funded by her real estate business (THANK YOU CLIENTS AND SUPPORTERS for making that possible!).  Every cent donated goes to the cause.

WHAT MATTERS is a 501(c)(3) that focuses on local and global outreach to help spread the word, support and raise funds for causes that matter. If you’d like to get involved, or travel to Africa with her on a future trip to work with the children of Light up Life Foundations, please visit www.whatmattersw2.com.

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Real Estate

Part 3 of 7: Top 5 real estate tips for active buyers during the COVID-19 crisis

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This 7 part series is accompanied by BETHvids featuring tips regarding buying, selling and the real estate industry in general.


Top 5 real estate tips for active buyers during the COVID-19 crisis:

  1. Keep in close contact with your Realtor and lender to keep tabs on industry reaction to the pandemic. Make sure they (and you) are following recommended COVID-19 protocols. Be understanding if your agent declines your request to visit properties during this pandemic and respect their personal decisions regarding the health and welfare of themselves and their family.
  2. Consider the many pros and cons of physically visiting homes in person at this crucial time in our world’s history. Seriously consider screening homes by requesting online tours in lieu of in person appointments. If you find a home you’d like to see that doesn’t have a tour posted, ask your agent to inquire if the listing agent is willing to encourage their sellers to film a tour on their phones to pass along for your initial screening.
  3. Talk with your Realtor about the pros and cons of making offers on properties you’ve seen virtually but not in person. Get familiar with contingencies that could protect you and amendments addressing the ramifications of purchasing during the COVID-19 crisis. 
  4. Understand that delays in closing timelines may be inevitable. Talk to your lender about any situations you are facing that may impact your purchase (including any temporary layoffs or change in financial situation). Thoughtfully consider the pros and cons moving forward with your purchase plans in light of world economic changes. Look for the silver lining like historically low interest rates and less buyer competition.
  5. Review my other BETHvids and corresponding articles made for buyers preparing to start looking for a home for additional tips to implement (including articles at “Real Estate Agent Magazine”).

Stay tuned for more BETHvids and corresponding articles made for buyers, sellers and Realtors for additional tips to implement while stuck indoors. Follow her real estate and WHAT MATTERS postings on Royal Examiner under the Features tab, “What Matters Warren.”


Beth Waller, Associate Broker at KW Solutions – Keller Williams Realty
Local Office: 27 Cloud Street Front Royal, VA 22630
Direct: 540-671-6145
Northern Virginia Office: 8100 Ashton Ave #103 Manassas VA 20109
Office: 703-330-2222
Licensed in VA

Beth’s websites: Bethwaller.kw.com and whatmattersw2.com

To learn more about my real estate sales or nonprofit (WHAT MATTERS), to book a time to utilize my free community meeting space (“Open House” in the Middle of Main building on Main Street), to schedule a no-cost social media video to promote your business/group or cause, or to discuss my listing your property (which makes all of my charity efforts possible), visit my website at www.whatmattersw2.com or give me a call at 540-671-6145!

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Local News

QuaranTEAMing: Ways to GIVE during the COVID-19 crisis, featuring George McIntyre and Pam Waters

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These two Warren County residents are embracing their own ways to support their community and use their resources to help others during the crisis. George McIntyre (of The Apple House in Linden, VA) and his devoted team are delivering free donuts and offering complimentary meals to area nursing homes, medical personnel, and others. Pam Waters (of Front Royal) is making masks to donate to offices in need as her way of helping others and herself during this challenging time.

They exemplify the “what matters is your heart” philosophy, as do many local residents who are stepping up even when we are limited in stepping out. Let’s stop talking about fear and discouragement and start talking about the opportunities to make a positive impact and the silver linings in the cloud of the COVID-19 crisis.

Beyond the clouds overhead now and somewhere over the rainbow, this challenging period of our lives will be in the past, so let’s make some memories to cherish–memories that prove that kindness, generosity, and compassion can have even more of an impact on our world than a deadly virus.

Trade your Quarantining for QuaranTEAMING–there’s only one team in this game of life, and we’re all on the same one. Let’s remember that and use our positions to play our best however we can where we are.

Have you seen an inspiring act of selfless giving? Share in the comments below and inspire others to make time each day to take even a small action to brighten the life of another.


WHAT MATTERS:
Are you or your group in need of a free video that could be created to help market your cause or event? Beth’s WHAT MATTERS Warren videos post on Facebook and YouTube.

Learn more about Beth’s nonprofit, WHAT MATTERS, a 501 (c) (3), at www.whatmattersw2.com–check out the “Community” section to request a TOWN TIP or WHAT MATTERS WARREN BETHvid or contact her at 540-671-6145 or beth@whatmattersw2.com.

About WHAT MATTERS:
WHAT MATTERS is a 501(c)(3) that focuses on local and global outreach to help spread the word, support and raise funds for causes that matter (primarily through Facebook). WHAT MATTERS has ZERO overhead as 100% of the expenses are funded by Beth’s real estate business thanks to her clients and supporters. Every cent raised goes to the cause she’s promoting and most are matched by Beth. If you’d like to get involved with her local or international nonprofit work or travel to Africa with her on a future trip to work with the children of Light up Life Foundations, please visit www.whatmattersw2.com.

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Real Estate

Part 2 of 7: Top 5 real estate tips for sellers actively on the market during the COVID-19 crisis

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This 7 part series is accompanied by BETHvids featuring tips regarding buying, selling and the real estate industry in general.


Top 5 real estate tips for sellers actively on the market during the COVID-19 crisis:

  1. Stay in close contact with your listing agent to keep abreast of how the industry is impacted by regulations surrounding the virus. Understand that showings have decreased across the board and discuss the pros and cons of staying on the market (continuing to allow showings), changing your status to temporarily off the market, or withdrawing your listing (without penalty due to the crisis) if your situation has changed.
  2. Use some of your free time to review your Realtor’s online marketing and advertising brochures to make sure both properly convey every feature your home offers. Promotion of your house should tell the full story about your home and all it has to offer both inside and out. If your agent is missing key points that buyers need to know about, provide a list of features you want to have showcased and make sure they don’t miss promoting features, upgrades, updates and unique benefits buyers should know about.
  3. Create what I call the “Seller’s top 10 Reasons they Love their Home” list. Invite your children (if appropriate) to make their own list and/or create artwork to go with it. It doesn’t have to be ten reasons, but make it full of positive features that enable the buyer to picture themselves making memories of their own in your home. You can share bonus insights about the neighbors and subjective features that Realtors aren’t able to verify and include in their own brochures, but can include the list and quote from you. You could even go above and beyond and create a video tour that your agent can use in marketing in which you walk through your home and share features. Get the entire family involved!
  4. Have frank conversations with your Realtor about pricing, strategy and your ideal time frame. Share any changes that the current state of affairs has caused, discuss outside the box ways to increase buyer traffic and contemplate pricing adjustments. None of us know with certainty what the crisis will do to the real estate market. Have the tough conversation sooner than later to determine what price would be one that you’d accept to get the sale behind you. Then strongly consider dropping to that price to spur the pervading stalled buyer interest. A price reduction combined with these tips could get you at the virtual closing table a lot sooner.
  5. Review my other BETHvids and corresponding articles made for general homeowners and people who plan to list their homes soon for ten other suggestions you can also implement. (including my videos here on my YouTube page and articles at “Real Estate Agent Magazine.

Stay tuned for more BETHvids and corresponding articles made for buyers, sellers and Realtors for additional tips to implement while stuck indoors. Follow her real estate and WHAT MATTERS postings on Royal Examiner under the Features tab, “What Matters Warren.”


Beth Waller, Associate Broker at KW Solutions – Keller Williams Realty
Local Office: 27 Cloud Street Front Royal, VA 22630
Direct: 540-671-6145
Northern Virginia Office: 8100 Ashton Ave #103 Manassas VA 20109
Office: 703-330-2222
Licensed in VA

Beth’s websites: Bethwaller.kw.com and whatmattersw2.com

To learn more about my real estate sales or nonprofit (WHAT MATTERS), to book a time to utilize my free community meeting space (“Open House” in the Middle of Main building on Main Street), to schedule a no-cost social media video to promote your business/group or cause, or to discuss my listing your property (which makes all of my charity efforts possible), visit my website at www.whatmattersw2.com or give me a call at 540-671-6145!

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Community Events

Take the “TOP COMMENT CHALLENGE”

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Log onto Instagram or Facebook and share the “TOP COMMENT CHALLENGE” video and invitation to challenge your friends to join in!

INVITATION TO POST:

I challenge YOU to join us in the “TOP COMMENT CHALLENGE”– for just $10, we can all help keep small businesses and restaurants in hometowns everywhere afloat during the COVID-19 crisis. Be the first to comment on each video/post share in the “TOP COMMENT CHALLENGE” and win a $10 gift card to the business featured in the post!

  1. Share this video/post (found at www.TopCommentChallenge.com) and tag/check in at your favorite restaurant/business.
  2. Check back to see who made the first comment “#TOPCOMMENTCHALLENGE” and send them a $10 gift card or cash to be used at the restaurant/business you tagged.
  3. Challenge the winner to join the fun and support the small business/restaurant of their choice with a similar post challenge and $10 giveaway.

HAVE FUN WITH IT:

You can take the challenge a step further and come up with creative ways to make your “TOP COMMENT CHALLENGE” fun and engaging to help promote the business/ restaurant even more–ask your winner to share photos/comments, engage with the restaurant itself via posts and encourage others to participate in this easy way to keep local restaurants/businesses afloat for just $10 and less in than 10 minutes of your time.

ABOUT THE PROJECT:

Co-creator, Mitchell Smith:

“Beth and I connected this year when filming a video for the HGTV Hometown Takeover application for our hometown.  We are now partnering in many ways to help shine a light in the darkness that our community of Warren County, VA is experiencing while facing the largest embezzlement scandal in Virginia history. Joining our efforts to shine a light in the darkness the world as a whole is experiencing during the COVID-19 crisis motivated us to create the “TOP COMMENT CHALLENGE” as the first of many ways we plan to inspire others to join together while apart to make a difference.”

Mitchell Smith began his career in social media marketing while a senior at Warren County High School in Virginia. Ever since, he’s helped multiple businesses ranging from local startups to nationally recognized brands increase their online presence and grow their client base via the power of social media. Mitchell is the owner of Expressed Legacy Marketing based in Front Royal, Virginia.

Co-creator, Beth Medved Waller:

“My nonprofit’s tagline is “What matters is your heart” and I believe that NOW is the time for each of us to join our hearts as one and make a change in this world. This is one of many ways I hope to inspire the world to remember that there’s only one team in this game of life, and we’re all on the same one, so let’s start playing together and beat COVID-19 and other challenges. I believe that this time we are spending physically apart can bring us all closer together through endeavors like “TOP COMMENT CHALLENGE.”


Hear the song Beth wrote lyrics to that shares the sentiment above: “What Matters is your Heart”

Beth Medved Waller is a self-proclaimed “Pretend Reporter (creating video interviews/articles to promote causes or events), Pretend Philanthropist (see whatmattersw2.com to learn about her initiatives) & a Pretend Singer/Songwriter” (hear her song at dollardreamdownload.com).  She’s also a real life mother of two teens, founder of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit named WHAT MATTERS and a top producing real estate broker who has been recognized locally, regionally and nationally for her various real and pretend titles.

Learn more by visiting Beth’s website, or reviewing her online column at royalexaminer.com/author/waller, or read about her WHAT MATTERS story and how she transformed her life based on her favorite song of that name by singer/songwriter Edwin McCain.

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Local News

Safety abounds in the local real estate industry, safety in numbers and in new safe practices

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While it’s definitely not “business as usual” for area Realtors, buyers and sellers, the COVID-19 crisis has not halted the local and surrounding real estate market as much as initially feared. To date, new listings are rolling in as are contracts. Showings, though obviously decreased, are still being scheduled and Realtors, offices and clients are embracing extreme precautions to make the process as safe as possible. The BRIGHT MLS (the local real estate multiple listing service which serves as a database for properties from New Jersey to Virginia) is providing daily communication as the industry adapts to new ways of conducting business, “We are relaxing showings requirements for Active and Active Under Contract listings. In-person/onsite showings of properties will not be required during this time. To provide another showing option for clients and their agents currently uncomfortable with in-person exposure, we are also temporarily allowing for the promotion of virtual/online showings within the public notes of a listing.” Typically homes cannot have branded virtual/online tours included in the database and must be available for in-person showings to remain in active status,” according to their online COVID-19 support center,” says a recent Bright MLS communication.

The industry as a whole is impressively stepping up to the plate in all areas to best protect while continuing to serve the public who still has a need to move during the pandemic.

New Safe Office Procedures

Offices are making the latest COVID-19 guidelines available to all agents while following guidelines and taking the threat of this virus seriously.  The Keller Williams Solutions Manassas office was shut down recently for five days immediately after a staff member’s granddaughter began showing symptoms of the virus. Her test came back negative, but Lee Beaver, owner of the franchise, put the potential safety of her agents and staff ahead of the bottom line and shared, “The health and safety of all is most important to us.  We will get through this critical time standing together. Being extra precautionary is the only way we are going to beat this pandemic.” Industry leaders share her concern and are going above and beyond to protect people who are engaging in real estate transactions through the pandemic.

New Safe Realtor Marketing Procedures

Agents are thankful for existing technology that makes transitioning to a more virtual way of conducting business possible. Heidi Rutz of Next Home Realty Select in Front Royal hosted a “Virtual Brokers Open House” this week and sent an email invitation to agents inviting them to take a 3-D virtual tour of the property (inside and out) and provide feedback through an online questionnaire. She’s having a drawing for a gift card for agents who participate. Agents like Rutz are utilizing creative marketing tactics to help listings stand out online.

New Safe Showing Procedures

Agents are asking buyers questions before showings to help mitigate risk and are advising them to take extreme precautions while following safety mandates. Some brokerages are requiring buyers to fill out a questionnaire about their health that verifies they are feeling well (fever-free with no symptoms of COVID-19) and a statement promising to use safe procedures when touring. Beth Medved Waller says communication and careful coordination is a key to feeling safe, “I have an occupied property that has a showing request from an agent who isn’t comfortable touring with her clients at this time. After lengthy discussions, we have decided that the seller will be turning the lights on, opening the closet doors and leaving the front door unlocked. I’ll arrive and the seller and I will wait outside (at least six feet apart) as the buyers tour.  We will be available to answer their questions outdoors after they tour (from a safe distance). The seller will be prepared to wipe down the front door handle after the showing, which should be the only place the buyers will have touched. We feel comfortable with this procedure, especially since their agent has provided us with a copy of their signed buyer health questionnaire”

New Safe Communication Procedures

Jessica Dean of Weichert, Realtors in Front Royal, like many prudent agents, is presenting contracts to her sellers virtually. She’s even already received one offer from buyers who haven’t visited her listing in-person but chose to view online and make an offer sight unseen.  Like others, Dean is also engaging in contract negotiations through electronic signing online and phone/Zoom calls. “Of course this is not ideal. Relationships are critical in establishing trust,” she says of this new protocol that unfortunately separates clients and agents physically but requires even closer communication to navigate the new processes of real estate transactions.

There’s Safety in the Numbers

Current market statistics for surrounding counties still look healthy as we move into month two of moving towards a new normal in life and in the pursuit of the American dream. Per Bright MLS research by Beth Medved Waller on 4/1/2020, the health of the area’s real estate market is still strong even amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Warren County:

  • Coming soon–6
  • Active–181
  • Under contract/pending–103
  • Closed since 03/13/2020–43
  • Temporarily Off Market–14
  • Withdrawn since 03/13/2020–9

Frederick County:

  • Coming soon–12
  • Active–342
  • Under contract/pending–252
  • Closed since 03/13/2020–73
  • Temporarily Off Market–25
  • Withdrawn since 03/13/2020–11

Winchester City:

  • Coming soon–4
  • Active–53
  • Under contract/pending–44
  • Closed since 03/13/2020–15
  • Temporarily Off Market–9
  • Withdrawn since 03/13/2020–15

Clarke County:

  • Coming soon–1
  • Active–54
  • Under contract/pending–28
  • Closed since 03/13/2020–12
  • Temporarily Off Market–9
  • Withdrawn since 03/13/2020–3

Shenandoah County:

  • Coming soon–6
  • Active–171
  • Under contract/pending–112
  • Closed since 03/13/2020–45
  • Temporarily Off Market–15
  • Withdrawn since 03/13/2020–6
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Real Estate

Part 1 of 7: Practical real estate tips for quarantined homeowners, buyers, sellers and realtors

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This 7 part series is accompanied by BETHvids featuring tips regarding buying, selling and the real estate industry in general.


This is the first of Beth Medved Waller’s video series offering tips for people to enhance their “real estate health” while they are stuck indoors to protect their own health.  In the seven-part series, she’ll be advising homeowners, buyers (both active home seekers and those thinking of buying soon), sellers (those with active real estate listings and with properties preparing to hit the market this spring) and Realtors (agents already in business as well as people who are considering becoming a licensed practitioner).  She’ll share suggestions about what each party can do to make their time at home productive from a real estate perspective. A four part article is also being published with her timely tips by “Real Estate Agent Magazine.

Part 1: Top 5 real estate tips for homeowners with no immediate plans of moving

  1. Turn being cooped up inside into an opportunity that will pay off in the future whenever it’s time to sell your home.  Start a folder of home improvements you’ve made throughout the years and use it as a place to log annual maintenance, record replacement costs and keep track of ages of heating/air conditioning units, your roof, and other important systems/utilities in your house.  You can even keep booklets, receipts and other handy information in a convenient location inside the binder.
  2. Start that long-overdue de-cluttering – focus on your main level first (the garage/basement area is less important to keep organized than your kitchen, main living areas and master bath/closet areas). If it’s hard to get rid of even unused items, put them in a box and move them to the basement–if you haven’t gone into the box in 6 months, it’s likely safe to donate the box to be enjoyed by someone who will be blessed by your “hand-me-downs.”
  3. Start an online folder to store seasonal photos of your home. It can also be home to “before/after” photos if you complete improvements a future buyer would appreciate to have documented.  Go one step farther and set reminders on your calendar to take quality digital (cell phone is fine) photos of your home during different seasonsUpload onto your online album shots that showcase views in the winter, lovely sunsets or sunrises, fall foliage and flowers blooming in the warmer months.
  4. Take a slow and intentional walk around the outside and throughout the inside of your home and make a list of major and minor maintenance projects you’ve been putting off. Now’s the time to make a plan and budget for completing them (or to check some off the list if you have the skills to earn some sweat equity).  So many people wait until they sell to invest the time and money into improvements they wish they prioritized sooner to enjoy the benefits of the updates before handing the keys over to the buyer, who is sure to appreciate your investment in curb appeal and upkeep.
  5. Bite the bullet and begin pricing out big ticket items on your “to do” or “dream” list.  Contact your trusted Realtor to brainstorm about the potential return on costly improvements. Calling on an expert for guidance can ensure you make an educated decision about your monetary investment vs. projected future impact on market value.  Be ready to share photos or video clips with your agent so they can visualize your situation and be better equipped to educate you about the potential return on your updates.

Stay tuned for more BETHvids and corresponding articles made for buyers, sellers and Realtors for additional tips to implement while stuck indoors. Follow her real estate and WHAT MATTERS postings on the Royal Examiner under the Features Tab, “What Matters Warren.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Beth Medved Waller is a self-proclaimed “Pretend Reporter (creating video interviews/articles to promote causes or events), Pretend Philanthropist (see whatmattersw2.com to learn about her initiatives) & a Pretend Singer/Songwriter” (hear her song at dollardreamdownload.com).  She’s also a real life mother of two teens, founder of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit named WHAT MATTERS and a top producing real estate broker who has been recognized locally, regionally and nationally for her various real and pretend titles.

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