All posts by Marilee Iseley

Seize Each Season!

Photo Credit: NatureServe, Matt Jones
Photo Credit: NatureServe, Matt Jones

Do you feel the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, yet?  For a month or so, Christmas décor has been on sale in our local stores.  AND although I absolutely LOVE Christmas, I really do love each of the holidays leading up to it.  In an effort to celebrate each season in it’s own right, here is my “Christmas Wish List” for the fall season!


1.  Enjoy Hot Apple Cider outside in the cool air

2.  Take the time to STOP and LOOK at the colorful leaves my 20-month-old daughter collects on our daily walks

3.  Add items I am thankful for to our “Thanksgiving Box” to be read at our Thanksgiving Feast

4.  Bake…something

5.  “Make Room for Santa” by gifting away gently used toys/clothes/etc.


What are some of the ways you “seize each season”?


Are you holding on to Thanksgiving or have you already started playing your favorite Christmas carols?

Three Ways to Help Your Child Stay Academically Checked In Even While They Check Out Over Summer

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

Around the mid-point of summer some children benefit from a little adult input to keep activities exciting.  When offering fun activity ideas, try to provide some that allow your children to exercise their brains as well as their bodies!  Here are a couple activity suggestions you could make your own!


1.  Family Board Game

Although many electronic games offer math and reading practice, only person-to-person interactive games can truly exercise educational AND social skills.  For example, when playing a board game, children are asked to problem solve, follow directions, and act/react appropriately to the game and its players.  Sometimes sibling rivalry can get the best of the players, but the lessons learned are often far more valuable than sitting in front of a screen.


2.  Play Outside!

Who doesn’t want to be outside in sunny southern California?  Sometimes kiddos need a little encouragement, but once they get out there, they’re bound to have a good time!  Encourage your kids to make up a game.  Creating rules of a game provides problem solving among the kids, value to each child’s perspective, and creativity.  To make it fair, let each child make one rule before going around again to create more rules.  This way each child will have an equal amount of input.  Listening skills are also a big part of creating a game with other people.  Go a step further and encourage your kids to make math or reading a part of the game.


3.  Follow a Recipe in the Kitchen

A great way to practice reading and math is to cook!  Involve your family in choosing recipes, reviewing the ingredients, making a shopping list, purchasing food at the store, and executing the recipe in your kitchen.  Not only will this activity provide you quality time with your kids, but leave them with a meaningful and educational experience.  Not to mention, a yummy snack, dinner or dessert!


The summer months provide time to enjoy activities with your family.  Encourage your kids to make the most of their time to “check out” by choosing meaningful activities that will help them stay “checked in”.

Tips On Choosing an Agent to Sell

CN March Blog PicThinking back on when you first sold or bought your home, how did you decide on who you would trust to take you through this experience? Was it from a family/friend referral, the internet, open house, or a complete stranger you met randomly somewhere? Hopefully, the decision made was the right one and if you did your homework, then we are happy that it all worked out in the end. If not, then hopefully this blog can aid you in some way.


Below are some tips/characteristics when searching for someone to sell your home because hiring a good listing agent is crucial to your entire experience as a home seller:

  • Experienced and educated with a proven track record
  • Hire someone that will communicate effectively with you and will give good advice
  • Has extensive knowledge of your neighborhood
  • A good negotiator to sell your home for the best possible price and as quickly as possible
  • Someone with a strategic marketing plan (ask to see what that consists of: how many websites will have your property’s info, how many open houses to be held)
  • Someone you can TRUST


You can check us off for all of the above and if chosen to be your Listing Agent, we at the Iseley & Walsh Group, are very involved with preparing your home for sale and marketing the property. Most importantly, we value your home just as much as you do and will always provide a comprehensive market analysis.


We want to give you the best experience from beginning to end. Not only are we here to do business, but we are here to build a long lasting relationship.


Submitted by a guest blogger.

Kid-Friendly Backyard Remodel

Artificial Grass by DelMar Turf
Artificial Grass by DelMar Turf

One of the greatest challenges for growing families is to use the space inside and outside their home in the best way possible.  Basically, how do you “grow out of your home” without looking like you are bursting at the seams?


When we moved into our quaint Aliso Viejo neighborhood, we instantly fell in love with the shuttered windows and cozy yards.  But cozy can easily become crowded if you aren’t conscientious about using the space well.  We recently remodeled our backyard in order to create more usable, kid-friendly space.  Although I was completely against anything artificial, my husband proved to be the brains of the operation and hired Curtis Cooper from DelMar Turf who had some great ideas for making our yard what it needed to be.  Curtis and his team were exceptional throughout the entire process.  The product they recommended looks great and is pet/kid friendly!  It rained just this morning, but our turf is already dry.


Before adding turf to the backyard, our space was barely usable.  Our grass struggled to grow and the battle with constant mud puddles often outweighed the desire to play in the yard.  Now that our family is growing, it is important for us to have a usable outdoor space.


Child-size potting table by Custom Raised Gardens
Child-size potting table by Custom Raised Gardens

In what feels like another life, I was an elementary school teacher.  I am often searching for and/or designing games to engage our daughter in meaningful activities.  As part of our remodel, we ordered a child-size potting table from Custom Raised Gardens.  The table is the perfect size for our daughter to grow in to and it offers storage options for her toys as well as our gardening supplies.  Now all we need is to add some decor on the table itself and a couple of shrub and flowering bushes around the base.


By imagining how your family will be in a space, you can design furniture/décor that can support its use.  This area in our yard will now serve as a play space for our daughter, workbench for mom and dad, and a beautiful backdrop on our fence – all resting on our mud-free grass!  We expanded the size of our yard by taking a couple simple steps and making sure it was user friendly for all members of our household!

Email Etiquette 101

CN Feb Blog Pic2Email is a primary method of communication in today’s business. Sometimes we send an email and forget to proofread, spell check, or even look at who we are sending it to. Often times replying so quickly to emails, we lose focus and don’t realize until it’s too late that perhaps we shouldn’t have sent it at all.


Have you ever sent an email to someone you didn’t mean to send it to? Did it get you in trouble or were you embarrassed by it?  I’m sure it has happened at least once to everyone and if not, you are lucky! Let’s go over some suggestions to make sure that when emails are sent, proper etiquette is in mind. We just want to make sure that the recipient of the email interprets your email properly. It’s all about perception.


These are a few simple suggestions/basic rules to be mindful of:

  • Address people properly.  If you don’t know who they are, use their full name rather than a shortened variation (i.e. Robert vs Rob).
  • Be Professional – We all love emoticons. Let’s save those for our social media and text messages.  We want to stay away from abbreviations and colorful backgrounds as well.
  • Re-read your email before sending (think before you send)
  • Wait to fill in the “To” so you can avoid accidently sending an email prematurely
  • Watch your tone – avoid using ALL CAPS. The recipient will interpret that as being yelled at
  • Include a Subject Line that is clear (i.e. For Agents, always include the property address in the subject line) – Choose something that will let the recipient know what you are addressing


Remember every email you send is a reflection of you. Consider this a little cheat sheet for your email best practice needs.


Written by one of Iseley & Walsh’s guest Transaction Coordinators.

Don’t Let SENIORITIS Sneak up in Your Home!

Don’t let SENIORITIS sneak up on you!


Photo Credit: Sabl3t3k
Photo Credit: Sabl3t3k

With spring popping up just around the corner, it is likely that more than high school seniors will get senioritis.  That’s right, I believe senioritis affects students of all ages.  All kids know summer is right around the corner, and with Open House and warmer weather on the horizon; the clues are hard to miss!


How can your family stay motivated to finish out the school year strong?


Make a list of the remaining projects and/or reports.  Students excel in predictable circumstances.  By making a list of upcoming major assignments, your child will be able to anticipate where hard work is needed. The greatest struggle with senioritis is once a student is “Checked Out” they will have a really hard time checking back in!


Write upcoming assignments on a desk or wall calendar so it is simple to see the amount of time a teacher is allowing the class to complete the project.  Procrastination is the enemy!  Springtime is often one of the busiest times of the year.  It is crucial that your child be realistic about the amount of time needed to complete schoolwork.


Set up a reward’s system!  What motivates your child?  Consider setting up a reward’s system where your child can work toward a major goal for summer.  For example, let’s say Palace Park is a family favorite.  You could provide your child with a certain number of coins each week he/she turns in assignments on time.  Then those coins can be used when your family goes to the park.  Make sure you set a date for the reward.  If the reward isn’t something approachable or tangible students may lose focus.


Don’t count on extra credit!  Teachers structure their assignments so a fair amount of points are provided through homework/classwork, projects, reports, and assessments.  Remind your child that each aspect of the class is important to prove his/her understanding of the material.  By neglecting one part, enough points could be lost to dramatically lower a grade.  Remember, unless a teacher has already provided the option for extra credit, it isn’t likely they will at the very end of the year.


Motivated Kids – Motivate Kids!  I used to snicker when my mother would say, “Show me your friends, I’ll show you your future”, but now I know it is true! We are influenced by the people around us.  Encourage your children to spend time with kids who have the same values as your family, who respect education and treat others nicely.  That way, when behaviors rub off, which they always do, your child will be positively influenced to finish the year strong!



What are some ways you prevent SENIORITIS from sneaking up on your family?

5 Tips to a Happy Home during “Homework Hour”

MI (Pic for Oct Post)As the second month of school comes to a close, you may find that your family is still figuring out the perfect balance between after school activities.  When I taught elementary school, I often heard that my students were too exhausted and rundown to concentrate on homework activities.  Unfortunately, finding a balance between after school sports and clubs and homework is sometimes easier said than done.  Here are some things to try if you haven’t yet found that perfect balance.


1.  Make it Predictable

Students thrive in predictable situations.  If they know what to expect and what is expected of them, they are much more likely to hit the goal!  Sit down with your child and create an afterschool routine that suits both of you.


2.  Start Early

Timing is everything!  Work backwards… what time should your kiddo be in bed?  Make sure he/she has time to wind down before bed.  Students often sleep better if they have a chance to relax their mind before going to sleep instead of completing homework just before lights out!


3.  Set a Timer

In early elementary, the idea of completing schoolwork after school could seem unthinkable for a student.  Help your child stay on track (or at least in his/her seat) for a set amount of time by using a timer.  Begin by setting the timer for small increments of time (such as 5 minute intervals) and then build up to 20 mins. or so.  An entire math page may seem daunting at the beginning of the school year, but if you break it down into sections and reward your child with a break when the timer goes off, you will help your child build confidence and concentration!


4.  Fuel Up 

Provide your child with a healthy, protein-rich snack before beginning homework activities.  If your child’s physical needs are met, he/she will be able to concentrate more easily on the task at hand.


5.  Find a Good Place

All children are able to concentrate better in a quiet, calm environment.  Help your child determine the best place in your house where they can work on school activities.  Be mindful that the kitchen table is usually the hub of all excitement in the evening and needs to be cleared off for dinnertime.  It might not be the best place for your child to unload his/her backpack!


Inviting your child to discuss these tips will help them own their decisions regarding homework time.  Setting oneself up for success is half  the challenge of getting there!

What’s Your Secret Weapon?

CB Pic for Oct Post

Written by a guest Transaction Coordinator


In an earlier post, we talked about the amount of paperwork involved in a Real Estate transaction. Can you imagine being a top producing Agent and having to handle all of the administrative tasks and paperwork flying solo? Think about how valuable your time could be spent with family and growing your business if someone else was crossing your “Ts” and dotting your “Is” to ensure your file was compliant with the DRE and the requirements set by your brokerage.  Well, who should you hire?


The person who can assist with processing the Real Estate file to gather and follow up on all the necessary and contractual items would be your definition of a Transaction Coordinator (TC).  Part of their job duty is to ensure that all mandatory disclosures are completed by checking all signatures, initials, and dates.  Important dates and timelines would also be sent as a reminder to all parties involved. The TC will also QC and provide a preliminary audit of the file for the managing broker to review. If all looks perfect, the Agent is worry free because he/she will be paid on time when the escrow closes.
This person can be licensed or unlicensed and will be your secret weapon so that you, as an Agent, can provide a higher level of service to your clients and do what you are meant to do – sell real estate.  A Transaction Coordinator will help you stay organized!

“A Penny for your Thoughts” 1 cent and 1 dollar deals for Back to School Shopping

Photo Credit: Matt Douchette
Photo Credit: Matt Douchette

Back to school shopping can be expensive!  Each school year my fellow teachers and I would try to minimize the items on our students’ supply lists as much as possible.  The reality is that there are a lot of materials that are needed at the beginning of the school year.  In an effort to minimize costs, check out these deals… some as low as one-cent!


Staples often has one-cent deals at the beginning of the school year.  The one-cent deals are usually items placed in large bins at the front of the store.  Call ahead and see what items are on sale!


Everyone knows the dollar bins offer great buys at Target.  Sometimes you can even find items bundled; therefore the cost per item is less than one dollar!  Recently, there were some school materials in the dollar bins.  Again, give a store near you a call to make sure the materials you are looking for are on sale.


Office Max is another great store to visit when stocking up on school supplies.  Currently crayons, markers, and colored pencils are all on sale for a dollar!


Make sure to search for coupons before heading out on your shopping trip.  Spending a few minutes searching and printing a coupon could help save you money and make sure you get those supplies for as low as one-cent!

Less Space, Less Mess, Go Green!

paper pileEver been a party to Real Estate transaction? Whether you were the Broker, Agent, buyer, or seller, you know the amount of paperwork that is involved. It’s practically a paper intensive industry and never ending, right?  Save time and money with less to print by going paperless!


What exactly does going paperless mean? One meaning behind it is to have an online filing system to manage your transactions such as DotLoop, Dropbox, SureClose, or Transaction Point to name a few. These management platforms will help you stay organized and in compliant.  Of course, it’s an expense to go paperless; however, an Agent or Brokerage can save money in the long term with printing, gas, document storage, and cost to fax/copy.  Just think how convenient that would be to have your client’s documents ready for them at a moment’s notice.


Another definition to going paperless that I have seen become very popular with Agents is E-signature. This sure saves Agents money and time! Clients have the privilege to sign anywhere and anytime.  Worried you won’t get that last document signed for closing while your client is on vacation? Here’s an example of how well this comes into play.


file_climbLet’s reduce the paper waste and start saving. Having these simple tools are definitely beneficial.


Content Credit to one of Iseley & Walsh Real Estate Group’s Transaction Coordinator.