Monthly Archives: December 2007

Will your house pass the “Mother-in-law” test?


prod1392123_hol07.jpgI often get asked by folks how they can increase the value of their home, help it sell faster, and make it more enjoyable to live in.  Can you guess what the best AND least expensive thing you can do for you home that achieves all of these goals? 


If you home is on the market, or will be very soon. . .prepare!  If you are expecting orders in the next few months or are planning on putting your home on the market, either for sale or for rent, you have plenty of time to get your “ducks in a row” and make life so much easier down the line.

Exterior:  Here in the south, we enjoy things that are lush and green. . .but hopefully not when it is the side of your home!  Power washing, when done properly helps your home look and feel squeaky clean and usually needs to be done every other year, every year if you have a light colored home.  Make sure you don’t have weeds or vines growing in any crack or crevices, years down the line this can cause significant damage to your home, which, after all, is probably the most significant investment you have. . .the old expression “and ounce of prevention is better than a pound of “cure”” really comes into play here.  Trim foundation plantings so that none of them actually touch the house. . .which also helps with bugs who use those branches as handy bridges into your home.  Keep your lawn mowed and edged and your driveway in good repair and clean (once you power wash the house, give the walk and driveway a rinse).  Regardless of the time of year, even if you don’t have a green thumb, have colorful plants in your beds or at the very least, next to your front door, it adds curb appeal for starters as well as set the tone for what the prospective buyers can expect to see in your home.  Pansies this time of year are great with chilly nights and can be picked up pretty inexpensively at the local home improvement store already in cute pots if you don’t want to mess around with getting your hands dirty.

Buyers need to be treated like guests. . .or like your mother in law!  Imagine having your mother-in-law over for a “white glove test”, or, if it’s a little scarier, you entire class reunion!  Whatever can motivate you to go through your closets, cabinets and drawers to eliminate things you don’t need, don’t need to move and that obscure or distract from how much great storage you have in your home.  Goodwill is a great charity and would love donations (which you can write off if properly documented) or perhaps your church or local charity group.

Replace your air filters once a month and make sure your filter grill and vents are CLEAN, this helps a buyer see that one of the most expensive systems in the house is in good working order and that you have been caring for it.  It also makes your home less dusty and smell even cleaner, one step above and beyond: get your duct-work cleaned, it is imperative if you have pets or smoked in the house, amazing that folks forget that dirty air is pulled through there and what a difference cleaning the system can make.

Windows, baseboards, bathrooms, light fixtures, light switches, bathroom vent fans, tops of door frames and floors should be as clean as possible.  A few hours of elbow grease will be well worth it in the long run, buyers worry about deferred maintenance and cleanliness “If this is what I can SEE is wrong with the house, what about what I CAN’T see?”. . .and buyers always think worst case scenario and high dollar repairs when they see “little things” that you can remedy before your home is even on the market.

In short: a down and dirty shopping list to make your home clean in a jiff?

-Charcoal air filters. . .sometimes they look like bags of little white stones, which absorb yucky smells and are great next to diaper pails and pet beds, and are non-toxic and give off no smell (so it you are anti foo-foo smells, this might be the way to go), they aren’t pricey unless you get into the plug in variety which can be anywhere from 19.99 to hundreds of dollars.

-Fresh air filters, change them every time you pay your rent or make your mortgage payment. . .no if’s, and’s or butts about it.  The very thick ones tend to make heat pumps work harder than they have to, taking more power to draw air through it, while the very thin fiber glass variety seems to let too much dirt through, find something in-between like a white slightly fuzzy “wavy” one, makes it easy to see when it’s dirty and they are still reasonably priced.

-Fresh baking soda in the fridge and freezer, even if you aren’t leaving the appliance with the house, just like on the MTV show “Cribs”, everyone wants to know what’s in your fridge, so clean it out and make sure it smells nice.  While you’re at it, run your oven on self clean also.

-Lay off the super scented air fresheners and candles.  I happen to love scented candles but not everyone does and if I should call to set up a showing for your home, I would shutter at the thought of walking into a home where a candle has been sitting there, lit with no supervision, not the time to worry about fire hazards.  Think clean–scents like “fresh laundry” or lemon, sage, or otherwise fairly light and clean always seem to be a hit and make your house seem even cleaner!

-Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, my personal favorite when it comes to cleaning.  Your doors should all be clean, this is a great tool especially around the door knobs to get grimy finger prints off and make the best impression, if you’re like me, once you get a few smudges off walls and doors, you might go a little wild looking to scrub even more.

-Touch up paint and Spackle.  If you have taken down photos (very effective to take down all photos, helps a buyer imagine themselves in your home, living there, which will hopefully help them want to buy it) or art, you need to plug the holes in the wall and touch up the paint.

-New welcome mat and fresh potted something next to the door.  It helps add curb appeal, makes your entry nice and tidy and sets a great tone for the showing.  Small investment, big payoff–a step above, a fresh paint job on the door with shiny new hardware like new door knocker, new handle and a matching kick plate.  A new light fixture would will be nice if you can afford it, simple ones start at only 20 bucks so a small investment that can pay off in dividends.

-and something that SHOULDN’T be in your home for a showing. . .YOU.  Trust your agent as well as any other agents working with buyers to show your home in its best light.  It makes buyers uncomfortable to be talking repairs, offers, down payments, etc. with you, the seller, standing next to them.  Give them the space to really enjoy your home, talk options with their agent and have a little privacy to try your home on for size. 

When you leave your home, open the blinds,  turn on all the lights, turn off the tv and perhaps put on some simple music (classical is a little “done”, for open houses, I personally use some low-key acoustic guitar cds which are unobtrusive) and spritz a little air freshener, make sure the house is picked up (beds made, toilet seats down, sinks clean and empty, garbage taken out, etc.) then enjoy a drive around the neighborhood or a visit with friends or neighbors.  I know as an agent that it is tough to live like that (I’ve been there and done that), especially if you aren’t a neat-nic or have kids or pets, but it’s a team effort and you’ll be glad you did, it’s an easy leg up to have on other homes also on the market and for the small investment, well worth your time. . . if you can afford it, it might be worth having a cleaning service to help you stay on top of things.  I have been in the most simple of homes and the most extravagant, but those that were clean and welcoming were my favorite regrdless of what treasures they held or what views they had.  Keep that in mind. . .help your home find a neat new family to enjoy it.

Happy New Year to everyone,


A bouncing baby. . .


. . .website!  Still a work in progress, but is up and running!  I will be using this as a sister site to so I can have as much information as possible for my clients as well as as much exposure as possible for my seller’s homes.  Please check it out, I would love some feed back. . .is there information you are looking for but can’t seem to find anywhere, have questions that aren’t getting answered or just plain looking for a hard working agent that returns phone calls and goes the extra mile for you?  I’d love to hear from you!  All of my contact information is on both of my websites. 

Proud to announce!!!!


I had to share that I am already hammering away at my New Year’s resolutions!  Sure, I may not have been to the gym as much as I should have lately, and once again, lunch is spent at my desk and warmed by the light of my computer monitor.  🙂

In an effort to garner even more web exposure for my clients and listings, I am starting an additional website, trying to secure even more web based traffic.  I still have, of course this blog. . .and to be unveiled tomorrow, a new listings only site. . .with a fabulous website name. . .

Sorry for taking a little time off from blogging, I did take about two days off for Christmas but otherwise, I was busy working though the trip to Virginia to see my parents and back was very entertaining with a great dane and a lab mix in the car.  Goober and Liberty Belle were as good as they could be knowing their reward would be a plain hanburger or two en route.

I hope the holidays were good to you and yours, I hope you have fun plans for New Years. . .or that you at least have fun plans for the NEW YEAR!  Cheers to you!


I got published, again. (Press Release)


mail.jpgMcKenzie (Johnson) Laurence Recognized as Contributing Author to Real Estate in 2008 Book of Top Ideas for the Challenging Market of 2008McKenzie (Johnson) Laurence, one of the premier Realtors in Jacksonville, NC , recently joined hundreds of top agents as a contributing author to Real Estate in 2008. Jacksonville, NC (Century 21 Champion Real Estate) December 18, 2007 – McKenzie (Johnson) Laurence, a top Realtor in Jacksonville, joined with hundreds of top real estate agents around the country to write Real Estate in 2008 in less than a month. Real Estate in 2008 ( helps buyers, sellers, and agents succeed in a challenging 2008 market by providing hundreds of ideas from top agents. Chapters include ideas on how to find motivated buyers, how to convince buyers to buy, how to get sellers to price/position their homes and creative ideas from around the country. These are ideas from top real estate agents who collaborated in an industry-wide effort which was launched during the National Association of Realtor’s (NAR) conference in November 2007.McKenzie provides a number of ideas as to why buyers should buy in 2008 and how sellers can prepare, price and position their homes to be sure they get sold in 2008. “This is a very fluid marketplace, and changing daily, the needs of our clients are staying the same but the tactics needed to reach those goals in a timely manner are evolving, we must all continue to grow and learn to best serve our clients.” said McKenzie.“McKenzie contributed some great ideas to the book and shared her knowledge with other agents and consumers,” said Steve Kantor, President of Best Agent Business and author of Billion Dollar Agent – Lessons Learned. “Over 1,000 top agents around the country brainstormed and contributed ideas to write Real Estate in 2008 in record time. We wanted to help agents, buyers and sellers make the most of the 2008 real estate market.”McKenzie (Johnson) Laurence has been a Realtor for 4 years and is with Champion Real Estate as part of the Century 21 franchise. Her website,, provides detailed information and buying and selling tips for the area.

McKenzie, as an expert in the local area, provides the following opinions on the local real estate market in 2008. “The Onslow county area is undergoing some tremendous growth both in families and businesses, it’s an exciting time to live here and a great time to jump into the market,” said McKenzie.

About Best Agent Business:

Best Agent Business provides part-time real estate assistants to real estate agents. ( The virtual real estate assistants work from home offices around the country helping top agents grow their business using their unique talents. Best Agent Business is also the author of Billion Dollar Agent – Lessons Learned (


McKenzie (Johnson) Laurence

Realtor, Broker Associate

Century 21 Champion Real Estate

Phone: 910.455.5328


http://www.McKenzieSellsHomes.comSteve Kantor, PresidentBest Agent Business

“Nice holiday reindeer sweater, but have you seen my listings?”


The holiday season is in full swing, I hope you and yours are enjoying the sights, sounds, snacks and most importantly, the sentiments of the season.

If you have been on the fence about buying or selling your home, or simply have questions–especially regarding perhaps your mortgage (given the last few months of headlines), the status of the local Onslow County/Jacksonville real estate market. . .or how to prepare your home OR your credit report to make an exciting move in 2008!!! 

It’s about to be a new year, take some time to make some financial resolutions. . .slash your budget AND your waistline, invest in more personal time but also in your own future with some real estate equity. . .or email me to start the year off with a BANG!!!   Direct: 910.554.0761

Raise your hand if you’re a builder or developer!!!


2007_07_20_1128_02.jpgThen walk up and shake mine!

I am looking to add to my business, grow my client base and of course, sell some more homes!  I would love to talk opportunities with you, the great benefits of working with a full service office and the collection of marketing techniques and web exposure that will knock your socks off.

If you’re a contractor, I’d love your contact information, at times I work with clients looking to buy a home that needs more love than they can give and need help with additions or major overhauls or sellers getting their homes caught up on neglected maintenance and need a reputable person to contact.  I only work with licensed and insured professionals, so everyone is protected during the project. . .

So, if you or someone you know is looking for someone like me, pass my name and contact info along.  Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, New River Marine Corps Air Station, Camp Geiger, and Camp Johnson is growing in leaps and bounds with new troops and families arriving every day. . .and support staff.  New businesses are popping up around town, Jacksonville is having a bit of a Renaissance. . .give me a call today to become a part of it.

Http:// 2007_07_20_1128_02.jpg

Do you like how your yard looks this time of year?


I have often heard from buyers I work with this time of year that they don’t care for the way our lovely area “winters” and I can’t blame them.  Onslow County is home to many military families. . .and for decades has been an area of high home turnover due to PCS orders.  What does that mean for something seemingly so insignificant as landscaping?

Many folks are buying with the thought “Well, why bother, this isn’t my “forever” home.” which I can certainly understand.  However, even the smallest efforts, over years will truly change the landscape of our community, which, especially for military families, often is called home more than once in a lifetime or career.

At a minimum, homes in our area need to be power-washed annually.  Steamy summer months invite mildew, mold and algae to grow and discolor siding.  Check with your builder or siding manufacturer for the safest cleaning options, but often simply water and a scrub brush are enough. 

Keep your yard tidy, regardless of the season.  You never know when you or a neighbor may be putting your home on the market so preparing in advance by planing trees and shrubs that look great and provide color year round is a must.  There are many regional favorites that can help add personality and shade to your yard; azaleas are always popular and come in a variety of colors and are fairly easy to grow, Camellias are pretty low-maintenence with the benefit of blooming and staying green in the chilly months, Confederate Jasmine is a climber with amazing fragrant white flowers and is evergreen in the winter, crepe myrtles can grow into lovely accent and shade trees when they aren’t “cropped”–or as Southern Living Magazine Dubbed it, “Crepe-murdered”. . . and a new favorite, the shade-master honey locust, a hardwood tree that grows pretty quickly into a nice shade tree that requires little raking.

So, this time of year, take some mental notes as to what parts of your yard need some color or structure so that come springtime, you know what areas might need a little TLC once your yard springs to life.   A little effort every year will help create a lovely yard you enjoy spending time in, and could be a great asset when it comes time to put your home on the market.