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Jim Tomlinson

4 Top Valentine's Day Restaurants in MetroWest

80 Thoreau

80 Thoreau Street, Concord MA

Located in Concord's historic railroad depot, 80 Thoreau describes itself as a "progressive fine-dining restaurant." This local favorite was opened by Ian Calhoun, a Concord native who spent time living Paris and studying cuisine at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu. The menu at 80 Thoreau is relatively simple, with delicious American and Mediterranean options refined by French techniques. While the inspiration for many of the dishes comes from overseas, the ingredients are local, sourced from several of Concord's commercial and family farms.

 

il Casale

50 Leonard St, Belmont, MA

1727 Massachusetts Ave, Lexington, MA

il Casale comprises two amazing restaurants, one in Belmont and the other in Lexington. Both locations serve up world-class Italian food and wine in a warm, upscale setting.

il Casale Belmont operates in a converted firehouse. The building's original exposed brick, creates a rustic, old-time environment that matches the classic authenticity of the menu items.

The Lexington restaurant is located in the heart of Lexington Center and provides visitors with an equally enjoyable dining experience, but unlike its Belmont counterpart, the Lexington location's menu is focused specifically on the Campania region Italy. This beautiful area of southern Italy is where the de Magistris family, owners of il Casale, first began cooking generations ago. Many of these coveted recipes are included in the rotating menu at il Casale in Lexington.

 

51 Lincoln

51 Lincoln St, Newton MA

51 Lincoln is a creative, New American restaurant in Newton Highlands. Over the last decade, 51 Lincoln has received numerous accolades, including winning the Improper Bostonian's "Best Suburban 2009" and "Best Charcuterie 2012", as well as being named on of the "50 Best Restaurants in Boston" in 2011 by Boston Magazine.

The menu at 51 Lincoln offers excellent wine, cheese, charcuterie options to start and succulent seafood options like miso seared scallops and Faroe Island salmon for entrees. Other popular menu items include the "chef's famous" rigatoni bolognese and the pan seared rib eye steak.

 

Blue Ginger

583 Washington St, Wellesley MA

Chef Ming Tsai of Blue Ginger in Wellesley has created gourmet Asian-inspired meals for almost two decades. In its first year of operation, Blue Ginger was named "Best New Restaurant" by Boston Magazine and has continued to receive accolades ever since.

Some of the most popular menu items include the Garlic-Black Pepper Lobster and the Sake Miso Marinated Alaskan Sable Fish. The ambiance of the Blue Ginger effectively complements its cuisine, with beautiful Vietnamese waterscapes and metal art by Charles O'Neil.

 

 

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5 Reasons you should Hire a Real Estate Agent

With the house hunt starting online these days many people feel the need for a real estate agent is obsolete. That is far from the truth! Here are 5 Reasons to hire a real esate agent! 

 

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    Real Estate Royalty

     

    Daytime talk show host and Comedian Ellen Degeneres has kept herself and many Realtors, Architects, and decorators busy as she's bought and redone over a dozen homes in the area. Degeneres admits that she loves real estate, explaining, "I somehow manage to find out what's on the market everywhere. People come to me. I like looking whether I'm buying or not. I love real estate."

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    But she's not the first celebrity to have an interest in real estate. Diane Keaon has a taste for historic homes, while Brad Pitt and Frank Gehry came together to build affordable housing in New Orleans post Katrina.

     

    Degeneres is taking her interest one step further and teaming up with HGTV (I'm sure you've heard of them) for a six-episode design show. Appropriately named Ellen's Design Challenge, the show will feature contestants who will compete to build furniture. The show is slated to air next year.

    There is no word if Ellen plans to use any of the contestants furniture in her own home, or if it will be made available to the public.

    To read more about the properties that Ellen and wife Portia de Rossi have renovated head on over to the New York Times.

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    ** Photos and Information courtesy of New York Times

     

    Office Tool to Use Dropbox

    Store, Sync, and View Files from Anywhere with Dropbox

    Remember the days when you had to store files on your computer? Though cloud computing technology has really only gained momentum and mass popularity within the past year or so, it seems like a decade since you had no choice but to store your files on your computer.

    To share you had to e-mail different versions back and forth, and, worse yet, to access from another computer you had to upload the file onto a zip drive and physically carry it with you. Or, for a real flashback, files had to be attached to a 3.5 inch disk and before that one of those actual 8-inch floppy disks that were like a bendable CDs that you slipped into those paper sleeves (as if that thin paper protected them).

    Thankfully now file sharing and file storage is as easy as having access to the Internet, and with Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G and all the technologies that keep us connected, youd have to be either in a cave or on an airplane (oddly cloud computing does not work from the actual clouds) to not be connected.

    Though there are many cloud computing companies at Andrew Mitchell we use several, including Google Docs and our internal Concierge Dashboard for agents one that is quickly gaining popularity is Dropbox, Inc.

    This cloud computing company, founded in 2007, offers both free (up to 2GBs of storage) and paid versions of its Web-based program that can be accessed from any computer (compatible with Windows, MAC OS X and Linux) or, more recently, from iPhone, iPad, Droid and Blackberry mobile devices. So, not only can you access your files from any computer, you can also do this from your smartphone.

    In case you havent heard, heres a brief overview of what you can do with Dropbox:

    • Drop files into your Dropbox folder to store them,
    • Drop photos in and create galleries,
    • Sync your computers and your phone to always have the latest file version,
    • Share live files with friends and coworkers,
    • Undelete files and have backups for mistakes,
    • And, encrypted technology for security.

    DYK Lowes and NAR Partnership

    Did you know that The National Association of Realtors partnered with Lowes to create a Lowes Realtor Benefits program that gives NAR members free marketing materials for their client base? The partnership helps Realtors build their personal brand with a break on printing costs, while helping Lowes reach a targeted client base of home buyers and sellers.

    Basically what this boils down to is that Realtor members can have free direct-mail materials sent out to their clients with their name, contact information, photo, company logo and even a personalized letter. Of course these items will be packaged with Lowes coupons a 10 percent off store-wide coupon and another rebate offer of your choosing and promotions materials, but likely this could be a benefit for a seller who wants to fix up a few things before putting their home on the market, or a buyer who wants to make a few touches to their new home. In fact, Lowes offers two different mailers, one for sellers and one for new home owners. They advertise that the materials will arrive 7 to 10 days after you order them.

    More specifically, in addition to the coupons and your info, the home seller mailers will have an article with tips on preparing a home for sale, while the new home owner mailers will have tips for moving into a new home.

    The Lowes Realtor Benefits program also allows members to purchase Lowes gift cards at a 5 percent discount, online only. Additionally, other materials available are free monthly e-newsletters with monthly tips on selling, buying and moving as well as information to educate clients about home projects that yield a high return for sellers. Your clients can also receive periodic project-starter coupons for extra savings.

    Though Andrew Mitchell & Company does not have any direct partnership with Lowes and while we think the business is moving away from direct mail campaigns in favor of email marketing (though Lowes offers this as well) as Realtor members we at least think its worth at least taking a moment to look into this program. As we said in Fridays blog, while a strong online presence is key to a successful real estate business, other methods are not quite obsolete. They are at least still worth some efforts in terms of a multi-pronged approach to reaching your widest client base possible.

    For the full details, visit our Facebook page for the link to the programs website where you can sign up.

    Written by Andrew Mitchell staff.

    Being Green

    Technology isnt the only new hype thats taken the real estate industry by storm. Another trend goes hand-in-hand with real estate being green.In fact, many Multiple Listing Services added green categories. Agents can now add specs like energy efficient appliances details, Energy Star ratings, and LEED certifications, which have become increasingly important even trendy.

    To do our part, we at Andrew Mitchell & Company have developed many of our business systems and tools to align with green initiatives. From a business standpoint, this amounts to saving tons of paper, oil and overall making environment a little greener. And, it just so happens that these practices not only save natural resources, but they also save time another extremely valuable resource, if you ask us!

    Our Five Steps toward a Greener Brokerage:

    1. E-signatures and E-forms According to our e-signature provider, DocuSign, 85 percent of U.S. adults are interested in going BeingGreenpaperless. Weve done this by providing real estate forms online through TrueForms and the Greater Boston Real Estate Board and facilitating legal e-signatures for all necessary documents. First, imagine the savings in paper alone. Next, dont forget this also slices document waiting time, the gas driving to and fro, and its much easier/ more readable to fill out documents with your keyboard rather than cramming all your information into those tiny boxes with a pen.

    2. Online Filing Systems through GoogleDoc While sometimes its necessary to keep hard copies, weve found it saves tons paper and space to store documents online with Google Docs. This way, we not only cut out walls of filing cabinets and the hassle of printing every document, but we also can share and edit documents from anywhere. In fact, the Pew Research Center predicts its only a matter of a decade or less before cloud computing is the norm.

    3. Faxes Sent via E-mail Think of your typical fax: First, you print out your documents and sent them in your fax machine. Then, your recipient receives the documents, immediately printed upon arrival. That means two people have wasted both document and coversheet paper. Instead, weve gone with a Voice over IP address phone system that sends all our faxes straight to e-mail. This way, we read faxes on our computers paper-free.

    4. Remote Working Capabilities While you may think of tons of benefits of working remotely i.e. comfy slippers at home, enjoying your favorite latte at a coffee shop, or just plain setting your own work schedule we also think a main benefit is the gas savings. Having a business model where agents can work from anywhere at any time allows them to save time, money and leave a much smaller carbon footprint. So, instead of driving into our office every day to do work on their computer, they can access all our documents, tools and databases from anywhere and save the driving for meeting up with clients or driving them to properties.

    5. Listing Flyers via Text Message Lastly, we have decided to have our listings have text message instructions on their lawn signs for instant property information via text message. This completely eliminates the old-fashioned need for printed flyers outside the property. And, when you consider that Nielsen Mobile reports that the United States has about 68.7 million text users, thats a pretty big market of users.

    Agent Reviews: The Importance of Transparency

    In a nutshell, modern consumers have come to expect and even demand a very high level of transparency and accountability. Whether they are looking for a new place to grab lunch, an auto body shop for car repairs, or a real estate agent to help them on one of the largest purchases of their life, websites like Yelp have made interactive and unfiltered user reviews the norm. In fact, there arent many goods or services you can purchase that dont have some sort of public feedback to help you along in your purchase/hiring decisions.

    Unfortunately, many brokerages and real estate agents are not following this trend, and that can often times mean a skeptical level of distrust from the public.

    More often than not, we see the ever-popular copied and pasted client testimonials on agent pages, but we have to ask, what is this really accomplishing? The modern client knows that the agent has carefully selected these reviews and placed them on his/her site. So, they have to wonder, wheres the accuracy?

    And, since an agent website is the new storefront, you may be weeding out potential clients without even knowing it.

    So, while we know this high level of transparency puts the agent on a vulnerable display, we agree with the Geek Estate blog (where the original posting came from) that the benefits far outweigh the risks. In order to be successful in the real estate industry or likely any industry for that matter we have to follow the trends, not fight them.

    Feel free to contact Andrew Mitchell & Company to learn more about how you can achieve success through transparency in both our Andrew Mitchell website tools as well as other popular consumer sites: 877-51-GetReal.

    Disruptive Ideas in Business

    We recently ran across a very interesting article on Mashable.com about so-called disruptive ideas in business. Now, we arent talking illegal activity where youre walking out of the office meeting in handcuffs, but rather ideas that shake up, or even revolutionize a particular industry that has been stuck, and unquestionably so, for quite some time with no large changes.

    If you ask us, the business model of the typical real estate company, in general, has not really changed much in the past 50 years, though the clients, technology and the home markets definitely have. Most agents are still stuck with antiquated ideas that sliding commission splits, where they give a large portion of their earnings back to their company, is just the norm. More importantly, they largely dont question it, but just accept it as the status quo. Because of this, we could likely call the real estate business model a stuck model in a stuck industry.

    To explain further, the articles author, Luke Williams, sets up the scene by talking about industries that have been stuck with no changes and no new ideas for a long time. He uses an amusing example about the sock industry, asking whats changed in the sock industry recently, if really ever? Nothing a sock is a sock is a sock. Well, what if they were sold in mismatched pairs (solves the laundry dilemma of the missing sock, right?)? While this example serves more for comedys sake (at least we think so), this idea actually resulted in a company called Little Miss Matched that actually did a large business deal with Macys.

    Other great examples that the article gives are, for one, the soda industry. Specifically, the industry of these carbonated, caffeinated, sugary drinks typical was thought of in two regards: 1) cheap, and 2) good tasting. However, Williams suggests while at first glance when you use disruptive thinking and flip these two notions and come up with expensive and bad tasting it sounds strange. But, what you essentially come up with is Red Bull. A highly caffeinated beverage that is double the price of a typical soda, frankly, has no taste appeal. Its actually tastes pretty bad, right? However, its sales are through the roof and it will give you the boost youre looking for in terms of energy.

    The article also gives several other interesting examples such as the car rental and the movie rental industries. What do you think of when you think of car rentals? Well, besides trying to expertly get the gas meter to the same spot you started, its the long lines, the paper work, the face-to-face interaction with the employees. But, look at Zipcar. There isnt any of that. Notion challenged.

    Or, when you think of the typical movie rental companies that we used to use, you think of all those times where you forgot to return a movie, or maybe 6 months later you found a DVD in some random DVD case or in your player, and thought oh no, I must owe a fortune in late fees now! Well, thats not the case with Netflix, and is likely why Blockbusters are closing left and right all over town (there no late fees sales pitch wasnt entirely true). Again, notion challenged.

    With all that said, this is what we aim to do at Andrew Mitchell Real Estate. While the word disruptive can definitely take on a negative connotation, we look at it as a positive. We are a highly progressive company in an industry that is slow to progress. We want to challenge old notions of what real estate has to be and ask, what if?

    What if agents got to take home a lot more of their hard-earned dollars every year? Would the industry really crumble? Or would the scales be tipped in favor of balance in fairness? We think the latter.

    What if clients had access to the industrys best information? Would they really bypass real estate professionals? Or, would they come into the process feeling informed and then let their agent guide them from there? We also think the latter.

    So, we invite you to take a moment to ask yourself what if? You may be surprised that what you think simply is doesnt always have a solid reason for being that way, and may need an update. Things change. People change. And, industries definitely change.

    Is Your Facebook Strategy Putting Off Potential Clients?

    Its pretty difficult to find people who dont have Facebook pages, especially real estate agents who rely on networking to main their business.

    But, have we really thought about how we are using our pages? Are we raking in business or possibly putting off clients with overly promotional posts?

    The recent issue of Realtor magazine brought up an interesting point in their Selling on Facebook article. While there are a variety of opinions on this some love the idea, some cringe what we found interesting was that they compare Facebook to an in-person social gathering. Whether you agree or disagree, I think we can at least entertain the idea that most agents would not likely walk into a purely social cocktail party or a friends birthday gathering and start pushing their listing brochures at the guests, right? Well maybe some would but its not likely socially acceptable in most circles.

    The article suggests that these two situations are not that different. When you think about, technology does have an annoying little habit of being, well, sometimes annoying think the person on his/her cell in the grocery store who is loudly having a conversation about intimate details of his/her life. Not what you likely wanted on your trip to pick up some milk and eggs, right?

    So, how do we use Facebook in a way that promotes our business, attracts new clients and builds rapport without coming across as rude or inappropriate?

    Below is a list of the Realtor magazine tips with our take and advice on them:

    1) Show that real estate is part of you without pushing it on people. For example, assert yourself as knowledgeable about the industry by posting relevant news articles that people will find interesting. Sometimes it helps to give people something, not just try to sell them something.

    2) Use Facebook as a means to show your hobbies, interests and special areas of expertise. This could spark a connection with a potential client, because clients want a real, authentic person they can relate to. You are selling your knowledge, but youre also selling your personality.

    3) Dont bore your audience! Posting just plain links to listings isnt exciting. If you are going to post listings, try to limit them to open houses or interesting facts about the homes.

    4) If all else fails, you can create a business page connected to your personal page to separate your business and your personal life. This way clients or other agents can see you as a person on one hand, and if they so choose, take a look at your listings by clicking over to your business page.

    Written by Andrew Mitchell staff.

    Join the Andrew Mitchell Facebook Page for the Daily Scoop

    Andrew Mitchell & Company invites you to check out and join our Facebook page for a daily newsfeed of relevant real estate and business information.

    On our Facebook page, we bring you:

    • Up-to-date Real Estate News: This includes breaking news in the Greater Boston area and the state, as well as national company mergers, new bills passed in Congress and statistics/predictions for real estate values across the nation. Youll also get interesting real estate tips and tricks from successful agents with great ideas.
    • Relevant Technology Scoop: Because we aim to make real estate searches and transactions easier for both our agents and their clients, we are dedicated to letting you in on cutting-edge real estate technology news. This includes apps for your smartphone, information sources, and overall just great tech tools for your business.
    • Innovative Business Articles: Being a new business with innovative ideas our self, we think its great to showcase other inventive companies that are moving with the times, bringing out fresh ideas.
    • Andrew Mitchell Happening: On our Facebook page you will also receive news releases and insight into whats going on at Andrew Mitchell, including features on our new agents, who we think deserve to be front-and-center.
    • Work/Life Balance Tips: At Andrew Mitchell we think that in order to fully fit the definition of success, you must find a great balance between your career and your personal life, which is why we provide articles to help you reach your full productivity level at work as well as enjoy your life and free time.
    • Realtor Resources: Because we fully support the great tools, resources and training events of our local, regional and national Realtor associations, we feed their great information to you, all in one easy-to-access place.
    So, feel free to take a look! Were always open to new ideas and suggestions for what content is relevant and import to you. Click here to join now! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Andrew-Mitchell-Company/131239893601442