Life After Cutting the Cord

Wow, it has been years since I stopped paying high cable bills. I just have internet, and not through the ‘cable’ companies either. My internet performance is actually BETTER than it was with super high speed internet through Time Warner. Right, super high speed. Joke! See how long it has been? I cut the cord when Time Warner increased my bill and then increased it AGAIN when I called to complain. Good old no-customer service Time Warner.

After they tried to give me ‘free stuff’ to keep me as a customer and told me my NEW monthly bill amount, it was HIGHER. I had to laugh. I said, “Does this actually WORK for you? Are people really that stupid?” She didn’t say it, but the answer was, of course, yes. And I of course canceled my service. And there was one more nail in the coffin of my belief that people were basically pretty smart.

So I cut the cord, bought a Roku box…yes, it was a little tiny box then. And I got an antenna for both of my TVs. So I have Amazon prime, I killed Netflix, I have Roku (free) and antenna TV (also free). I don’t have TIME to miss the cable shows I thought I couldn’t live without. I can stay completely happy watching YouTube videos if nothing else, and free antenna TV (remember THAT?) is great. I get about 21 channels just from that. Roku has free movies that they add to each month, and if I WANTED to watch sports, which I don’t, I can get that on free TV.

So, I’m very happy and a lot richer because I cut the cord. In fact, I’m working on cutting back again…hence axing Netflix. That’s a start. But long story short, life without cable is BETTER. Anything they offer I can get right on my laptop, and what I pay for internet is way cheaper.

Understanding Value in Real Estate

Okay, I’m crusing around online again. BIG MISTAKE. So here GOES.

I think we can all agree that buying that perfect English Cottage home you’ve always wanted can actually be a nightmare if the home is falling apart under your feet. Even if you got it at a steal of a deal, a money pit can literally ruin you. It pays to know what you’re getting. That’s what I mean about value. Make sure you know what you are GETTING and what you are NOT GETTING, before you make a decision.

The same is true of your real estate agent, or even better, whether or not you WANT one. Yes, we live in an age of technology, and yes we can do most things electronically. But that’s not the purpose of your real estate agent. Your real estate agent can do all of the tech stuff you want, but don’t you want to know WHY you’re doing it? Wouldn’t you think it was a good idea to understand those e-forms you’re signing? Even better, wouldn’t it be nice to know why you need them? Oh, and who works for YOU? Is it that person telling you you don’t need an agent? Careful now, because often they work for the OTHER GUY. Nobody wants to leave cash on the table, so be careful about whom is representing YOUR INTERESTS. In other words, make sure somebody IS. CAN’T TELL? Call an agent.

Oh, yeah, remember that plumbing inspection you decided you didn’t need? Who do you call at midnight when you can surf in your house? ME! You don’t get to cry if you decided you knew everything and you didn’t need an agent or wouldn’t listen to the one you had.

People get wrapped round the axle about commissions, but did you know…God I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve said this…the AGENT does not get that check! THE AGENCY, make that AGENCIES (plural) get that. When you seek the aid of a real estate agent, you’re hiring the benefit of their companies, with all of the expertise and tools to guide you through one of, if not THE, biggest financial transaction you’ve ever done. It pays to have a leader who knows the ropes and can guide you well through them. And every time you think we don’t earn our money, just text us and ask what we did for you today. Most of us will say, “You mean starting at midnight?” Because that’s often the case. While you are sleeping, we are often working for you. It’s not unusual for me to send out emails at 1 am. Oh and by the way, that nice magazine you get long after you closed? It came from me. Free to you, by the way. You’re welcome.

And yes, there are all KINDS of websites you can poke around in, but let me tell you, if it was that easy, there wouldn’t be licensing requirements and continuing education (ad nauseam) requirements and each year, a ‘general update’ with, in part, the latest and greatest potholes to watch out for. And, if it was that easy, everyone who took the licensing test would PASS. THEY DON’T. Listen, real estate agents are not just there to open the door for you. We work hard, all the time. We sleep with our phones and our laptops, and we get calls at midnight from clients having meltdowns sometimes. We get calls with pop-up questions, and we drive THOUSANDS of miles on your behalf.

We talk to inspectors for you, attorneys, surveyors, plumbers, roofers, handymen. We arrange inspections and make appointments with attorneys, we crawl under houses and into attics, and we do A TON of paperwork. We take classes and attend meetings to stay on top of changes, to real estate, to lending, to title insurance, to warranties. To mold, to radon, to septic systems and new construction. We grease the wheels of the process so you just show up and sign; we take the heat for you and the stress too. We are ALWAYS working behind the scenes for you, just to make sure you get a good VALUE in the transaction. So when you think we don’t do much, think again. You are able to think that because WE did all the work for you. The easier it was for you, the BETTER your agent was.

It costs MONEY to buy a house. We get to be the ones to tell you HOW MUCH. Somehow, that makes US the BAD GUYS. We didn’t TELL you to buy a house. We didn’t make the rules and laws, but somehow it is OUR fault you get to pay for your inspections and the attorney and title insurance and homeowners’ insurance. We control the rotation of the Earth, didn’t you know?

Marketing. Ah marketing. I have seen THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of HORRIBLE pictures of homes that have sat on the market forEVER. If your agent puts crap like that online for the galaxy to see, well you get what you deserve. Oh and if it was YOU who took the pictures? God help you. You have embarrassed yourself before the entire galaxy. And beyond. Good agents take marketing your home very seriously and you will not see dark, dingy photographs out there to ‘showcase’ your home. It just won’t happen. Oh, you can take your own photos? Give me a call about that in about 5 years. There is VALUE in professionally done photos and professional marketing that YOU don’t pay for.

I work in an industry where we are OFTEN treated like ambulance chasers. I have worked in industry, retail, science, management, on farms, in factories, and in real estate and NOTHING is as hard as real estate. Nothing. Real estate is 24/7, non stop, and people think they can automatically treat you like garbage when they get stressed. NOT ALL THE TIME, but a lot of times. People don’t handle stress well, and in a real estate transaction, somebody’s gonna be moving, which is stressful. Who gets the flack? The real estate agent, many times.

So in case you are wondering, there is VALUE in what I do. I give up my weekends for you, my holidays, my sleep; I take heat from attorneys and inspectors and lenders; I take all of the heat you throw at me and endure the knives in my back, undeserved I might add, and I still get you to the closing table and I STILL give you a very nice closing gift. Why? Because real estate agents are in this business because we like to HELP people. Even the prickly ones.

Yes. We have every bit as much value as the next worker you pass on the street. And in case you’re wondering, many of us are engineers, scientists, accountants, airline pilots, bankers, retired VPs, golf pros. So yeah, we have brains too. And you’re fortunate to have us in your corner, and I mean that.

The Value of a Real Estate Agent Referral

Hi everybody. I hope this post finds you well. I just wanted to do a quick post to remind potential real estate buyers or sellers about the value of a referral.

Keep in mind that agents, we boots on the ground, know a LOT about the market, other agents and agencies, and we get to know YOU. If your agent isn’t bothering to get to know you, they’re not very good agents and you’re not being served as well as you could be. Period. Remember that we are licensed in the STATE of NC, not just a single town. When your friends and family decide to make a move, your agent knows you and can find out about your friend or family member by actually talking with you about it. Then we have the connections to find an agent who will serve your friend or family member best IF we are not able to. And remember this also means out of state referrals!

Let me give you an example, and I don’t want to hear anything about stereotyping either. I live in this world. A senior buyer or seller is VASTLY DIFFERENT from a young or first time client. It takes an entirely different skill set to work with seniors. Seniors are far more cautious; they often are in a limited income situation; and they don’t always understand the structure within which the process happens. You’ve got to watch their budget and you have to not rush them! Young people, on the other hand, because they often have no experience with the process, need a LOT of information and guidance. They are revving the engine and we had better be able to keep up. Fascinating. It’s labor intensive, to use that phrase, but one of my favorites. I love young folks with ambition and drive. It gives me a good feeling about life in general. BUT…the two genres are different. And there’s every situation between, by the way.

So, let us find an agent who will help you best. We have a referral network, and when I call my folks, they are WONDERFUL about finding a good match. It might be a patient and compassionate agent good with seniors, or it might be a young firecracker who can jog beside first time buyers through the technical points of a transaction. We know our people and we can help you find the perfect match.

Give us a shot. We care about you having a great experience.

Flipping…

Well, these days you hardly get the ‘flip’ in before the house is grabbed in mid-air. ‘Toss’ is probably a better word. How about “Toss This House”. My goodness, there’s a mad rush for ‘existing’ homes all over the US, with each available home having many, many interested buyers. Multiple offers is the norm. I hate it.

Yep, I’m a real estate agent, but I also appreciate a fair, balanced market. This market supremely favors the wealthier buyers, and my first time buyers are literally shoved aside or intimidated out of even trying. My heart goes out to the excited buyers who have saved and worked on credit score, diligently trying to get out of the rental lifestyle into homeownership. I see, time after time, their optimism turning into disappointment, as their ability to offer above lists price and bring the difference to closing, kicks them out of the running. OR, they are reduced to shopping through the inventory of homes where you can see the ground through the floor, or where outdoor carpet has been flung onto the floor inside. It is ridiculous.

Here’s why this bothers me…in PART…why this bothers me. One day, and you know I am right, people who pay 10, 15, 20 thousand over list price are going to get stuck with that house when the market falls. Think about this: If you offer more than the appraised value right out of the gate and THEN the market falls (or crashes), then you need to sell? Oh boy. You will have to bring that extra you paid out BACK to the table again as the seller, and possibly more, just to be able to sell a home you now have to list BELOW market value. I’ve seen this happen; I lived through a market crash with people who HAD to sell for jobs or family reasons, cashing in tens of thousands of 401K dollars, just to get rid of their home. I understand this is a free market and all of that, and I am a capitalist. But I have also “lived in the future” to a great extent. I tend to view my life as today + ten years out. I’ve been pretty doggone accurate too. And I’ve found that things tend to work out somehow. But the number of home being sold above appraised value deeply concerns me. I’m going to be the one going to listing appointments and giving bad news time after time. I’ve done it; I don’t like it.

Anyway, I started out talking about my young buyers or firsts time buyers and how hard it is to see them getting cut from the running. I hate it and I don’t think it’s fair. So. House tossers. How about this? How about you try buying some smaller homes, putting fewer bells and whistles in them, and giving the entry level buyers a doggone chance?? Spend less on the downstroke…buy TWO! Make them cute and comfortable, safe and warm, and sell them at a price the entry level buyers can afford. And sell them to a owner, not an investor, and give them a chance. YOU had one; why not pay back the opportunity? I say you can spend less up front and still make a profit. In other words, my little first time buyers can live without granite and top of the line appliances. They know they can upgrade that stuff later.

Anybody? Anybody? It is not all about the money, is what I am saying. Man can’t live by bread alone. That’s not me; that came from somewhere else.

Closing Down America for Takeover

It’s early. I’m watching a show about Covid of course. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE?? I just found out that there was enough stimulus money in Michigan for every family who lost income due to business shutdowns, to receive SIXTY THOUSAND DOLLARS. Holy crap! That’s enough money to make it okay to be shut down for two months. (The restaurant owner thought it was twenty thousand). BUT…the money went to special interests, NOT to the people of that state whose businesses lost income. He was LIVID and I don’t blame him! Can it be true that our tax money is just being exchanged among government employees and lobbyists while we are being driven to bankruptcy? You bet your ass it can. AND APPARENTLY it IS! Look at who runs for political office these days. This crap started with a blue freaking dress. If you don’t know what that means, you live under a rock.

This sounds like China. If government takes away our options and our money, we will HAVE to depend on the GOVERNMENT for income. That means you’ll have to be a smooth brain coward in order to get bread and milk money. The REST of us will disappear. You know, the ones who do the work. I’ll be gone for sure.

I don’t CARE which ‘party’ (they need to change that word to ‘nightmare’) is in the White House. I care about AMERICA and our rights and freedoms. Who would have thought that Communist China would become a model for a FREE country like ours? And if we’re so terrible, WHY on God’s earth is everyone trying to take us over?? Have you thought about that at ALL?

There is enough money to make this ‘lockdown’ stuff work for the benefit of the people, but guess what? Government does not WANT it to work. How can our rights be stripped away if they do anything to make this benefit the people? Right! It’s about power and money people, and the government of this day want to take both away from us. I believe there are a few old codgers who need to go AWAY.

This is AMERICA, people. Not CHINA. Not North Korea. If that’s what you want, GO THERE. Please, go. You’ll soon be sniveling and begging to come back, and that’s IF you don’t ‘disappear’.

I woke up from a sound sleep and thought, “Holy shit, we ARE China!” Already the ‘news’ is controlled by the government. The ‘news’ is now a propaganda machine! That’s CHINA! THAT’S NORTH KOREA! Already the internet is being taken away from us, people. Think Twitter, think Facebook, think Youtube. Starts with little censorship events, but it is THE INTERNET BEING TAKEN AWAY FROM US. If you don’t know what I mean by that, you’re living under a rock. And you are one of the sheep the power mongers love. You’ll be sorry.

Okay, say that’s good with you. Then one day, I AM THE ONE who gets to decide what YOU can post online. OH GOODIE, right? hahaha. That’s EXACTLY how it will work. If you support this takeover and think you will benefit? I’m laughing my ass off. You will mean NOTHING. None of us will. That’s how a dictatorship works.

But the program: It showed a restaurant owner who is defying the ‘rules’ by staying open against Michigan oppression. He is being fined a grand a day and will end up in jail, I’m sure (the government of MI is being called a ‘regime’). Smoke is coming out of my ears. Just this week a pub owner in Staten Island was JAILED for trying to save his business and keep income coming in to his household. He declared his establishment an autonomous zone, but I guess that only works for SEATTLE. According to him, they fined him 15 grand first, rescinded that fine, went to a grand a day, revoked is liquor license at which time he made his establishment free to all (with a donation). Ultimately they arrested him. IN AMERICA. I was sorry I was too far away to go there for dinner. But you couldn’t PAY me to go to “NY of China”. Not enough money on EARTH. So much for ‘The Big Apple”. It’s going down and it should, for putting up with this crap. Wait for it.

Statistics say that the ‘average’ restaurant can survive 27 days without income (I was surprised it was that long), and YET rich politicians (not a scientists among them) are talking about a SIXTY day LOCKdown, when all information WE GET says a ONE OR TWO week quarantine is allllll you need. Does ANYBODY but me see the absolute ridiculousness in all of this??? If a two week shutdown would DO IT, why are they talking about SIXTY DAYS? And government is threatening LOCKdown well into spring 2021. Two operative words: Threatening and Lockdown. Do you even have a pulse? Can you even IMAGINE the future if this crap continues??

In other words, they are implementing orders that are GUARANTEED to ruin American families. The comment was, “It didn’t work for the businesses so they are coming into your homes”. This is being called a grand social experiment, designed to see how far they can push before people revolt. So far, people are laying down. I’m ASHAMED that we are surrounded by smooth brains with no ability to look at this stuff logically, and I am ashamed of the cowards that surround me.

If a restaurant chooses to stay open, everyone in that establishment UNDERSTANDS THE RISK and is willing to accept it. I think the law calls that “assumption of risk”. And every patron who goes IN also knows and accepts the risk. Welcome to America. If are scared, YOU stay home. How about that??

Yeah, I can hear the crybabies talking about how we ‘will take the virus to other peeeeeople”. Well not if YOU ARE LOCKED DOWN. If you lock down, you’ll be safe, RIGHT? Only the zombie contaminants will be out working and providing your services. Hey, one of us might deliver your DRUGS and your GROCERIES. Bet you’ll be good with THAT. And…wait for it…we’ll be alive!

If there’s a fire, I walk towards it to see if I can help. I am not a coward nor a sheep. This is America. If restaurants want to open, I will go. I will give big tips to the wait staff and try to help the establishment survive. The commentator said, “They can’t even stop a Walmart looting; how will they stop an entire community?” EXCELLENT QUESTION, MISTER TALKING HEAD. And ESPECIALLY when the POLITICIANS do NOT follow the rules they impose on us. WAKE THE F**K UP! If it is safe for THEM, DUH HUH HUH, IT’S SAFE FOR US!

By the way, FOUR HUNDRED people in the community around Mac’s Pub in Staten Island showed up to protest and support those owners (most without masks). I hope they stay and invite all of their friends. The two young guys who own that establishment are working hard and providing a service to their community. They are NOT digging into YOUR WALLET for money to live. They do not want to be living under a dictatorship. GOOD FOR THEM!

If the Covid numbers are right, you should walk to your door and see a couple of people dropping dead in front of your house. I’m not talking about 90 year old grandma, folks. And I’m not talking about the FAKE Covid deaths. If you are already on oxygen, then LOCK DOWN! If you have risky health conditions, STAY HOME. That’s how we used to do it before there became a concerted effort to take down our country, which is exactly what this is. People have died from different flu viruses forEVER. It’s gonna happen. I had the flu once and thought I MIGHT die. I STAYED HOME AND WOULD NOT LET ANYONE NEAR ME. Guess what, all of the rest of the STATE kept right on working and going out to eat and going to see movies and visiting friends and FAMILY. DUH!

WOULDN’T it make more sense to have the cowards and at-risk people ‘lock down’ and let the rest of the world get to WORK?? Yeah, it makes sense if you have folds in your brain. The SENSIBLE thing to do is let the trembling frighted ones and the poor health ones, LOCK DOWN. Is it just me or does that make PERFECT SENSE???? This current paradigm is DANGEROUS, people, in ways we cannot begin to understand. If America goes down, can you imagine what will happen to the world? Do YOU want raw sewage running in the streets were YOU live?? Can you imagine not being able to shelter and find food in the REFRIGERATOR? Better think about it. You don’t own your home and you can’t stay if you don’t pay. If you support this shit, you’ll get what you deserve.

I know there have to be scaredy cats among us, always have been, but EVERYBODY?? Is it something in the WATER? I would love to see the faces of the diabolical assholes who are orchestrating this experiment. I’m sure they are grinning from ear to ear because they think we’re stupid. Uh, in large part they are right. And if this crap doesn’t stop, we’ll all be stripped of all rights and precious conveniences, and some of us will be “disappeared”. I’ll be gone, for sure.

There are still some voices out there who speak the truth, but unfortunately they are drowned out by liars and those who want our money and our freedom. So it becomes imperative that we use our own logic and intelligence. Good luck 10 percenters. And, didn’t Edward Snowden WARN us about government overreach? If you don’t know what I mean by that, go back under your rock.

I need coffee.

HELLO? IS ANYBODY THERE??

You know what I’m getting a lot of lately from listing agents? Nothing!

I’m a real estate agent, and some questions actually require a conversation. Let me give you an example. If you list an older doublewide, it has to have the right kind of foundation in order to qualify for an FHA loan. AND there are other requirements. Lots of them. How long has the current owner owned it? Was it a flip property? If it is, what will the profit be at the current list price? Do you have the HUD paperwork that came with the home? You know, stuff like that. Stuff that can keep MY buyer client from getting loan approval AND losing their due diligence because of your negligence. Yeah, lots of agents don’t know about this stuff. I’ve been through the wringer with agents who list a home as qualifying for FHA when it would NEVER qualify. BTW that instigates a PHONE CALL.

Nine times out of ten…NINE…nobody answers the phone. Everybody wants a text. Look, most of the time I get text messages first too, and I like that as well, but SOMETIMES, a buyer agent needs to have a CONVERSATION with you. Know how you can tell when those times come? THE PHONE RINGS. SOMETIMES it will take me longer to type the text message than a conversation takes, and you’ll have to call me anyway because you won’t understand what I’m asking for. And that’s if you even return my call. That’s ANOTHER story.

ANSWER YOUR FREAKING PHONE.

Oh that’s not cool, you say? Well listen up. There are a lot of wealthy older folks out there who not only don’t WANT to text, they don’t want to work with YOU if you don’t answer the PHONE. You’re not being cool and contemporary; you are losing business! And younger people get really upset if they don’t get instant answers. Here’s how it works: Ring ring! You say, “Hello?” It’s EASY. Give it a try.

I can hold a grudge. You don’t take my calls, wait until you call me and let’s see how that goes. I’M KIDDING. I answer my phone, I read my texts, I check voice mail, you know, I use the entire phone.

I’m not really angry; in fact I’m laughing. For now.

Why Give Thanks?

Thanksgiving has crept upon us again. Seems like we cruise along and suddenly it is holiday time. Thanksgiving and Christmas tumble into our lives like puppies wrestling, tumbling down the stairs. Thanksgiving is like practice for Christmas, but it deserves its own spotlight.

Gratitude is becoming less and less visible in our world, and that’s too bad. We have come to look to ourselves as our own providers, our own saviors, our own trailblazers. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Every success we have depends on the efforts of others, mostly strangers, whose lives overlap and intersect with ours. Sometimes their impact is obvious, but not usually. More and more often we receive our gifts and hardly acknowledge them because we’re grappling for more, more, more, never having said thank you for what we already received. I believe as gratitude goes, so goes love.

Big deal, you say? Yes. Big deal, because gratitude is a grand reminder that we’re not that great, not that important, not that autonomous. Whether we like it or not, we need each other. Stopping to think about that, particularly around a table full of delicious food, is not only wonderful, but also quintessential to our psychological wellbeing. Giving thanks is a way to humble ourselves and to finally look around at those who have lifted us up.

These days there’s far too much emphasis on tearing down. I think you can agree that building UP is better. And don’t forget about subtlety. There are people who give you rich blessings that you never know about, folks. That’s right. Some people prefer not to have the spotlight, but we are there.

Imagine someone looking at you with gratefulness, remembering how you loved them, carried them, helped them stand after a fall. So receiving gratitude is also a very good thing. This is what, I believe, the Bible means by ‘love one another’. How much do you appreciate that steadying hand when you are falling? See what I mean. Which actually is better, giving or receiving? I hardly know.

So it goes both ways, gratitude. Not a single day goes by without thanksgiving my my life, beginning with prayer, but also thinking about how much I appreciate my friends who are there for me, people who offer to help me carry heavy things, the mechanic who changes the oil in my car, clients who never fail to brighten my day, the people who deliver my packages, and on and on. Make a list? You’ll never get to the end, I promise.

So this Thanksgiving, in spite of how crazy the world tries to be, look around you, see your blessings, and remember to say THANK YOU. Those words are disappearing from our landscape too. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Modernizing the Look of Your Home

If you have read anything I’ve written, you know I have a hint of sarcasm in my vernacular. I can’t help it. If you take this life seriously, it will kill you. I have proof. One hundred percent of the dead people I know, died.

And I’m in real estate now, though my other life work was in science. When I had the corporate ‘personality profile’ done, the result that was that the ONLY thing keeping my job from being Nirvana, was the ‘people piece’. Science suited me to a tee, because of the analytical, data pieces, but I needed PEOPLE. Never would have believe it. Prior to that assessment, I thought my job was heaven. Troublemaker.

“What do you mean by that?” I asked in my wide eyed corporate brainwashed manner. I hate myself when I look back on how I took the brainwashing…though some of it shaped my life in a positive way. Like the ‘valuing diversity’ piece. That was true and right on point. Too bad they don’t teach THAT anymore.

BUT, the evaluator’s answer was about customer service, the face to face kind. I needed more PEOPLE in my life. I thought about that, and realized that in the course of a day, my ‘people’ were the ones who brought samples to the lab for me to analyze. Traffic was not what you’d call heavy. So yeah, I took that to heart, particularly in my second life, thrust upon me by a cheating ….you know.

I ended up…because I was over 50 and NOBODY wants to hire an over-fifty woman…in 1) retail, 2) house cleaning (my business); AND 3) real estate, as a way to survive. Three jobs, all involving PEOPLE. God, did I have PEOPLE.

People are mean in retail. Customers throw things on the counter, rather than placing them, they watch you like you’re trying to steal a penny as you scan the items, they accuse you of all KINDS of things, they throw things on dressing room floors and urinate on them….they steal in the MOST amazing ways. OMG. I with I had not taken THAT part time job. Retail changed my opinion of humanity as a whole. But I had people. People, people, people.

Then, house cleaning. Wow. Not going there AT ALL. And job three was real estate as the ‘foundation’ income. Three jobs, all people. See how karma works?

REAL ESTATE. All about ‘relationships. The good things is that I get a steady dose of the ‘people piece’ AND I get to use the data/analytical piece too. I actually do love that, most of the time. Like every other venue in life, there are good ones and not so good ones, but I try to remember that I AM PROBABLY one of the ‘not so good ones’ in somebody’s list too. Wouldn’t it be nice if that statement mattered to me. HAHAHA. Like I said: I’m over 50. Things don’t ‘stick’ like they used to. Listen, I TRY to be good. I really do. And most of the time I am. But like everyone else, somebody thinks I’m horrible. And I’m okay with that. Remember “I’m Okay; You’re Okay”? You don’t? Hahahah. Never mind then.

But what is the absolute best about the ‘people piece’ is that I get to meet all kinds of people, all the time, and I only do real estate now. So it’s like my lab once was, only with human specimens, and I get to see first hand how they handle stress, how they handle making choices, whether or not they can make a decision without someone holding their hand, how brave or willing to take risks they are, whether or not they listen when I speak about important things they need to know, whether or not they are kind, whether or not they have manners, whether or not they are grateful for their blessings…or not. I get to see whether they have to have every nut and bolt in the box before taking a step, or whether they build as they run. It’s amazing and fascinating. Every single person has something amazing to offer this world, even if you have to step back and search for it. Everyone has a reason for being, and everyone deserves to be ‘seen’ in that way.

Steve Jobs used to say, “Think different.” It sums up two reasons why I loved him. One: The idea…thinking like there IS no box; and Two: Grammar. Because you know that “Think different” means something entirely different than ‘Think differently’. And OMG yes, someone is whining that Steve Jobs didn’t actually COME UP with that slogan but WHO CARES? See how people are??

I know you think I’m wandering all over the place, but wait. I’m taking you to the point. I find that thinking different is antithetical to MOST people. For example: There’s a magnetic spice rack from Ikea that has round metal spice holders that stick to a magnetic square plate. Most people mount that on the WALL. I saw one mounted to the CEILING in a tiny house. THAT’S thinking different, people. That’s life without a box. Of course I loved the idea because that person was a GENIUS of creative thinking. At some point, one of the two people living there said, “Wait! Why don’t we put it HERE?” GENIUS! Most people…I’m saying 95% don’t have that. I’m developing it.

Think about this: How many closets have you seen where things are piled on the floor to the extent that they tumble out the door when you open it? And yet, the vertical space above the shelf the builder installed, goes unused. PUT UP SOME SHELVES, PEOPLE. PUT UP SOME SHELVES. USE THAT SPACE. See how that works? Think different. Look up! Look around!

Which brings me to the point. Told ya.

We are in the midst of so many ‘modernizing’ ideas. This or that will make your house so modern and desirable when you decide to sell. Well…here it comes, people…Mason Jar light fixture covers will NOT get your house sold. I can hear the wailing of the 5% now. And if you try to serve me tea in a jar when I visit, I’m going to assume you can’t afford actual glasses and MAYBE the tea bags were used once before. Somewhere, there’s a warehouse FULL of jars that need to be sold. At a profit. And there you go.

Remember that 95% of people don’t think outside that box? Well, there’s a 95% chance that they will be the ones looking to buy your house. Barn doors….not an efficient way to close off a bathroom, folks. Yeah, they’re different, but they are not private. And I mean private related to ALL senses, if you get my drift (and I used THAT word deliberately too). Sponge painting. Oh my gosh, please just don’t. Open shelving? For you, yeah, all day. For the majority of buyers, NOPE. Track lighting: kill me now. Remember that when you put your house on the market, you are going to HAVE to appeal to the 95%, the MAINSTREAM. So you’ll need to ‘de-individualize’.

Do things like new countertops, new, fresh, neutral paint, new appliances, new flooring, and by the way, Luxury Vinyl Plank flooring is hot and it will last into the future and actually BE a good selling point for your home. When you talk about how dark the pantry is, go to Home Depot and buy battery operated, motion sensor lighting. I use it in my pantry and I LOVE it. And by the way, PAINT THE PANTRY interior. It makes it cheerful and shows you can think different. And you will love it, by the way. Use the pantry door for storage. You can actually screw storage onto the pantry door, and that extra space is like a new dimension. You can fit EVERYTHING there.

Under the sinks: Please go search ‘creative under cabinet storage’ and BUY SOMETHING to make that space organized and neat. You will love using it and when you get ready to sell, so will your 95% buyers. I just finished putting up shelves and pegboard in my storage closet. I just stare at it. Who would think that organized storage could be SO BEAUTIFUL? And my 95% will love it too, when it’s time to sell.

Trends, people, TRENDS. “A current style or preference” is the definition. CURRENT. Means it will PASS. So, if your tendency is to go awry of the mainstream (admirable in most cases in my opinion), just remember that that special little sponge paint job can keep you from selling your house when you are ready to move.

And here’s the counterintuitive part. Hang on because this will twist your brain. Remember that the Mason Jar lights was the 5% out of the box thinkers? Well, it becomes TRENDY, and then the 95%-ers, who can’t think creatively, follow. So the jar thing becomes ‘trendy’. I know. But remember we’re taking about herd mentality here. Just remember that the ‘trend’ followed by the masses trying to be ‘modern’, will ABSOLUTELY pass and will have to be changed. Be ready for that. Remember Harvest Gold and Avacado? Didn’t think so. It passed. And so, thank GOD, will Mason Jar decoration.

It’s complicated. The best you can do is make your home YOUR home while you live there. But when you get ready to sell, PLEASE I BEG YOU, cut those emotional ties and just know that the special paint you have loved for thirty years is OLD and will not appeal to current buyers. Know that those precious JARS will need to go. You have to become ‘mainstream’ in order to sell. Unless a handyman comes along, or unless you want to drop the price by a LOT. Or unless you have an 800 square foot loft downtown.

Be proactive when you plan to sell and please, consult a real estate agent. Let the licensed real estate agent be the licensed real estate agent, and you be the client…and stop trying to know more than the trained, licensed expert knows. Because if you insist on driving that bus, your agent will let you, and then you get to deal with the result. I can’t tell you how many tens of thousands of dollars have been left on the table because sellers would NOT let to of their avocodo paint or grandma’s furniture. I’m shaking my head right now. Consult your real estate agent about this stuff, folks. And keep that 10K (or 100K as the case may be) in your pocket where it belongs.

Recession Proofing Your Business

Let me get this out of the way: I’m not predicting a recession. But let’s face it: Most of us have ridden this cycle a few times. In other words, there’s one over the horizon. I decided to write about this topic because I’m seeing some of the same poor behavior among service providers that I saw in the last recession. It was ugly then and it is still ugly.

I’m in real estate, so I deal with a LOT of service providers. Top of that list is builders, followed by subcontractors or ‘subs’. These include flooring installers, plumbers, electricians, roofers, even handymen. Then there are appraisers and lenders, attorneys and surveyors. Wow. These folks can get all of the work they need with builders now, who are also sitting in the catbird seat. Anything they can nail or staple together, they can sell. And any sub able to swing a hammer can get a job with them. In other words, they don’t need us right now.

The abundance of work is evident by providers who ignore our calls for assistance, refuse to negotiate at all, promise to show up and then don’t, charging astronomical fees for nominal work, breaking promises made at the the ‘deal’ table…you get the picture. That’s called greed, or poor time management or outright dishonesty, even if it hides behind the ‘very busy’ landscape. And it can be a situation where this provider hasn’t experienced a recession…yet.

In the last recession when things started slowing down, service providers who disregarded and disrespected realtors and other clients came with hats in hand, begging us to bring business to them. Do your clients need any work done? Do you know anybody who wants to buy a new home? That kind of thing. Remember, a lot of service providers went under during the last recession. So it’s just a good idea to stay centered and keep providing good service, even when you are busy as all get-out. Nothing is worse than the cheshire cat at the first meeting and then the Loch Ness when you need them.

Now, what PROMPTED this post was a Youtube video I watched about lenders, not realtors. The host warned lenders not to snuggle down in their rolling chairs and ignore calls from agents and clients, just because they’re busy. Why? Uh, it’s not always going to be like this. Well that goes for all of us. Time is often ‘of the essence’, and if we are fortunate enough to be selected to provide a service, then we should provide a SERVICE. Clients are not calling or emailing to annoy us; they are calling to PAY us for a service. And I can tell you this: My clients will kick a service provider to the curb FOREVER if they are treated like an annoyance…AS THEY SHOULD, by the way. And, dare I say this? I will also remember the ones who didn’t have time for me or treated me badly. When the chips are down, have you recession proofed your business? That’s the question. People who need help will always go to the ones they relied on before. That would be the ones who served them well.

Let’s do something completely out of the ordinary and look at things from the OTHER perspective. Just take a moment to think about lenders, who are INUNDATED with refinance closings as well as the other type, because rates are so low. Let’s think about the closing attorneys who are working SO hard to get everyone closed before the rate lock expires. Think about builders who can’t build fast enough to satisfy demand. They’re working around the clock and having a terrible time getting supplies and materials. Handymen are overworked, washed over with calls for refits and updates and repairs needed in order for closings to happen on time. EVERYBODY is maxed out. So let’s not call every day for an update when we don’t need one. Remember that while you are thinking about what to ask about, these people are working their behinds off. They’re not sipping a marguerita under a palm tree. Most of the time, no news is good news. I find that when information needs to be sent, it usually gets sent. There’s a queue and you are in it; if you haven’t heard yet, it’s probably not your turn. Okay. Fair and balanced.

So…let’s just assume everyone is stressed out, overworked and maybe not their usual loving and friendly self. Let’s try to understand. But at the same time, if you SAY you’re going to do it, JUST DO IT. And if I am hiring you, do NOT go underground and ignore me. You will be fired forever.

Recession proof your business. It’s just plain logical. And serving others well? Well that’s just the way it ought to be. Period.

Are You in a Flood Prone Area?

It is that time of year, as we have already been reminded. Hurricanes are jumping off the coast of Africa and forming elsewhere, swirling into their path of destruction and perhaps taking dead aim at you and me. Hurricane season has us thinking about what we will do if we get that evacuation notice, but really we should be thinking about that WAY before the season is upon us.

I lived in the ‘slot’ on the coast of NC for many decades and went through my share of hurricanes. People wonder why we’d stay there, but you know, pretty much every area has its threat, whether it is fire, drought, tornado, earthquake…you pretty much have to pick your poison, so to speak. But as you do, there should be a little voice in the back of your mind, reminding you to ‘be prepared’. That means for safety, for evacuation plans, for how to slog through the insurance companies’ blockades. What WILL you do if your home sits for days with 6 feet of water, or more, inside? Sometimes coming home isn’t really coming home.

I never had to evacuate, but things weren’t that terrible when I went through my last set of hurricanes; they were survivable. It’s not like that now. Now, these monster storms become real killers. It’s not just the wind anymore; it is also serious flooding. You can shelter from wind sometimes but not from water. Let me tell you about a friend of mine as I digress. He put his doublewide manufactured home on 10 foot pilings. He was from NY, living in NC. So you KNOW what his friends and neighbors thought about that. Well, after hurricane Floyd, I believe it was, his was the only high and dry home for miles around. He could have said, but didn’t, “How do you like me now?”

Houses continue to sell at a fast clip, and because I’m in the real estate business and thinking of making a move myself, the very first thought I have is ‘flood zone’. I’m just not willing to take that particular risk. I attended a seminar about floods though, and they said this, “If it rains where you live, you are in a flood zone.” In other words, freak weather happens. So…what do we do? I’m wondering, “Where in the world can I go?” Not the desert, thank you.

I’d say, if you have never attended a free seminar about floods, GO. The information is GREAT, and it will at least give you a place to start with your plans. And best of all, it will inform you about what insurance companies will and will not cover. That, my friends, is information you need to have. Read that sentence again. If you think the contents of your home are covered because you have flood insurance, think again. That’s a separate policy and you might not have coverage. Better check it out.

My seminar folks said that if you go through three floods, THREE, then you are entitled to assistance (I think they said from the government) to raise the foundation of your house. Now, you need to investigate that because my brain started steaming when I heard that one. Why? Because of that THREE number. Who goes through THREE big flood events and STAYS THERE? Well, people do. Kid you not. They showed a slide of a home that had been raised up to a walk-in crawl space of 8 feet. And I thought, “Well that won’t work for seniors.” Again, being in the business instigates a different kind of thought process. Anyway, different people solve problems differently. Would I go through that to have an 8 foot crawl space? Oh heck no. I’m thinking with my luck if I raised my crawl space, the wind would blow the house off of the high foundation. But that’s MY luck.

The whole point I’m trying to make as I wonder around the point, is that you need to think about flood zones BEFORE you buy a home, and if you just have to live there (where else can we go anyway?), then be sure you are COVERED insurance-wise, for everything you need to cover, and that you have a plan for safe evacuation and a place to live while you rebuild, if…God forbid…you have to do that. And by the way, DON’T leave your pets behind! I could tell you horror stories about that. Take your pets WITH YOU.

While you think about water, also think about wind. There goes the roof! Better know what you insurance company thinks about THAT, too.

By the way, if you think, “Well I’ll just move to the mountains” to avoid flooding, guess what ladies and gentlemen, it floods there too. Just be prepared.