The Albright’s Story: A Heartwarming Experience

From the day I started at Coldwell Banker Real Estate on December 19, 2011 I knew that Gen Blue was going to be one amazing event. As the rookie of the group I sat in on Gen Blue planning meetings still unsure of what to expect when we actually got to New Orleans. I did know that it was going to be unlike anything I had ever attended and I was right.

The highlight of Gen Blue for me was seeing firsthand how dedicated Coldwell Banker agents are to their careers. Over the three day experience I was exposed to stories from agents who answer to a “higher calling.” Day after day they are committed to helping people to believe in housing again. Coldwell Banker agents look beyond price tags and commission rates and offer buyers a look at the true Value of a Home.

One moment at Gen Blue completely defined this idea of agents answering to a higher calling and when it occurred I can honestly say I had goose bumps.

The story I am about to share involves an agent, Victoria Rabb of Coldwell Banker United in Pensacola, Florida, and an active duty Military family, Jared & Amy Albright. This story demonstrates the importance of the work real estate agents do every day; many are in this job for their love of helping people achieve the dream of home ownership.

Now I could tell the story, but it’s much more powerful coming from the Albrights. Take a look at what they have to say about their real estate agent:

We heard about the Albright’s story shortly after I began my career at Coldwell Banker. It was a no-brainer to invite them to be our honored guests at The Generation Blue Experience. They were delighted with the offer and told us that because they were both on active duty in the United States Air Force they had never been away on a vacation together, not even for their honeymoon!

 

After showing the video above at Gen Blue, our CEO Jim Gillespie welcomed Jared and Amy to the main stage where they were greeted with a lengthy standing ovation, clearly showing their gratitude for all the Albright’s and other active military personnel have done for our country.

Jim Gillespie welcomed Jared and Amy to the main stage where they were greeted with a standing ovation.

While I tried to hide the tears rolling down my cheeks I quickly realized everyone around me was wiping away tears between clapping as well. It seemed there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!

The Albright’s were extremely touched by the way they were recognized while on stage, but what happened next completely blew them away.

As they enjoyed sightseeing in New Orleans they were stopped nearly everywhere they went by someone from Coldwell Banker who recognized them. They were greeted with hugs, stories of loved ones who are also on active duty in the United States military, and even received a bottle of champagne from an agent!

 

 

Despite being on their “honeymoon,” Jared and Amy decided to spend a majority of their time with us at the Gen Blue experience. In just a few days they had become part of the Coldwell Banker family.

The Albright’s with David Marine and Lindsay Listanski at the Gen Blue closing party.

After a sad goodbye at our final night party we were delighted to run in to Jared and Amy at the airport for one last laugh and final picture together.

One last laugh and final picture together at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

A huge thank you goes to Victoria Rabb who persevered through 628 challenging days to sell Amy and Jared’s Florida home. And a very special thank you to Jared and Amy Albright for believing in Coldwell Banker and for all that you have done and continue to do for our country.

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Here’s to Backyards

Here's to backyards

There are plenty of reasons why people buy a particular home. Could be the size. Could be the location. But one element that’s often not talked about on a property description can be a major part of the enjoyment that a home gives. I’m talking about the backyard.

Backyards are memory makers. Don’t believe me? I asked my circle of friends on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to share their top memories of their backyards either as a kid or even today. The response was overwhelming. From childhood moments to memorable occasions to just relaxing, the backyard initiated an onslaught of stories.

Steve Ostrom from Roseville, CA talked about how his backyard as a kid was the perfect setup for wiffle ball field with a built-in swimming pool acting as out of bounds and a 7th inning stretch cool down. Others mentioned forts, games of tag and even riding the lawn mower with their parents. One friend even had a zip line in his backyard. I think I need one of those…

My friend, Lindsay, talked about a rock wall. Yes, a rock wall. It was something that her father and her built on the weekends around a tree in their yard. They carved their initials into it when they were done and now there’s a piece of her childhood forever entrenched in the yard of that home for generations to come to enjoy.

Some memories involved food (one of my favorite subjects) where the backyard played host to BBQ’s, family get togethers and even where they made homemade ice cream. And backyards have no limitation as far as seasons are concerned. Whether it was fall, winter, spring or summer, there were moments to be shared from all respondents involving pools, snowmobiles, sledding, piles of leaves and planting gardens.

For me growing up the backyard was a place where I developed my love for the game of baseball. The kids in the neighborhood would come play wiffle ball. My friends across the street, Jeffrey Goodman and Matt Ferrari, would come over and we’d play home run derby until it was time for dinner. I dented our neighbors garage enough times to have him take away tennis balls and broke my fair share of windows playing “tennis baseball.” (it’s basically baseball but you use a racket instead of a bat)

But some of the best moments were Sunday afternoons when I’d play catch with my dad. I used to plead with him to throw “diving catches” where I would stand on one side of the yard and he would throw a fly ball to the other side of the yard that would force me to dive and make a Ken Griffey Jr-esque catch. Avoiding trees while chasing down balls was all part of the fun. I can still see him running down balls in the street when I would try and overthrow some fastballs to him. Eventually I was forced to chase down the errant throws.

Usually our catch games would end with my dad trying to help my pitching control by throwing a “simulated inning” which normally ended with me walking the bases loaded. I had control issues.

Without a backyard I might have still enjoyed the game of baseball, but I’m absolutely sure that the reason I love the game today is because of the moments and memories made on that green grass in Succasunna, NJ.

While my own boys may not plead with me for “diving catches,” my wife and I chose a home that had a yard where we could be sure they would have their own moments to look back on.

So let me close with a video of our TV ad that we call “Backyards.” Here’s to backyards and all the things that make a house a home. Share you favorite backyard moments in the comments.

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Infographic: The Real Value of a Home

Playing off the concept from our recently launched TV campaign, we thought it would be great to have an infographic that shows how to calculate the real value of a home. As the infographic states, a home’s true value is not found with an algorithm involving square footage. It’s based on a living, breathing equation that adds life’s memories and moments. Take a look:

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The Value of a Home

 

I am shocked at the sheer volume of charts, graphs and heat maps that try and focus consumers on the stats and appreciation trends in home buying and selling. Now, the dollars and cents and crime stats are all a part of the decision to buy a home, but its not the only or even most important reason. Why do people buy homes?  Its for lifestyle. It’s personal.

There were two things I wanted more than anything growing up on the Jersey Shore in Ventnor, NJ: a new car and a house. My mom had an old Chevy Bel Air that was always breaking down. Dates were always a challenge when you are trying to impress a girl but didn’t know if the starter would work.  We rented a series of apartments during my teens because the landlord(s) either sold the building, gave the apartment to their kid, hated our dog, or raised the rent to the point where we had to move. I never was able to paint my room a color other than “off white”. I couldn’t do anything in the backyard like plant a tree/shrub, put a swingset there, or even mow the lawn when the grass got too long.  The kitchens were always “apartment grade.”  Things always broke and you had to wait for the landlord to fix it, if they ever did.

Fast forward to today, and I’ve had the pleasure of working for two great companies that in a bizarre way, allowed me to get what I had been looking for all those years ago.  For 15 years I worked for a car company, and got a new car every year.  That was sweet!  And now, I am the chief marketing officer for Coldwell Banker Real Estate.   And not only do I help our brokers and agents make home ownership possible for hundreds of thousands of people each year, we have just developed a new television campaign that I believe really hits at the heart of home ownership.  And after the past four years of doom and gloom, we need a little heart right now.  We have to get back to the “why” that people buy homes.

We have a :60 anthem (see below) that explains our unique view of the value of a home.  The voice on the spot is the great Tom Selleck.  Not only is he the star of the hit CBS series Blue Bloods (at Coldwell Banker, it is rumored, we bleed blue), and has a wonderful, trusting voice that adds a great texture to the commercial…but the backstory is even better.  You see, Tom’s dad was a vice president at Coldwell Banker for 38 years, and he was the only member of his family that wasn’t in real estate…until now!

We also have a :30 spot on the Value of a Home, and three ;15 spots that talk about some of the things that make a house a home…Kids, Backyards and Pets.  I can personally relate to all of them!

So 3 months ago, I bought a small, dumpy 2nd home down the shore, about 2 miles away from where I grew up in Ventnor.  I never checked the crime stats.  I briefly looked at the appreciation charts for this house and the neighborhood. I paid more attention to how many blocks away from the ocean it was and asked “would we walk or ride bikes to the beach in the summer?”  Did it have a backyard for BBQ’s and hanging out?  Was it close to a Starbucks and the local sub shop, Dino’s?  Was it big enough to have tons of friends and family bunking up on long summer weekends?  The price was good, the interest rate low and for a monthly payment that was the same as a car payment, it was a great deal.  My Coldwell Banker agent, Bracken Markins, was great.  I’m painting it now —  any darn color I want.  I’m fixing what needs to be fixed, and what I can’t fix, I “gotta guy” that can.  My dog is welcome to be there anytime.  I’m going to plant a tree.  My kids will bring their kids here someday in the future. I’m going to fish in the bay A LOT.  My wife and I will grow old there together.

That’s the value of my home. Share yours in the comments and take a look at our new TV ad below that we call “The Value of a Home.”

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