Radon in Drinking Water, ETC.

“There is currently no federally-enforced drinking water standard for radon. EPA has proposed to regulate radon in drinking water from community water suppliers (water systems that serve 25 or more year-round residents). EPA does not regulate private wells.” From an EPA publication, Basic Information about Radon in Drinking Water

“As uranium breaks down, radon gas forms…” From and EPA publication, Basic Information about Radon in Drinking Water

So. This is the new real estate hot button. We went through mold and radon gas panics; now we have radon and other ‘contaminants’ in drinking water. What we need to know is that this is a newly raised issue, and frankly there are no real stats to which to refer, in some cases. IN THE MEANTIME…If you are on a water system supplied by a reservoir, for example (open to the air system), the EPA says the radon gas will evaporate long before it reaches you. It is well water that’s the real concern, according to research, and relax; not all well water has radon in it. The EPA seeks to determine a limit, and it will be based on what amount could evaporate into your home and create a number above the ‘radon in air’ limit, if I read correctly. The only thing that worries me is that the EPA is seeking to determine a limit. But that’s just me.

Uranium in water has also bubbled up as an issue. By the way, radon and uranium are typically present to some extent in soil and air, and therefore often in water too. We live with many, many elements that are deemed harmful, every day. But some of these rock borne contaminants have established contamination limits (meaning ‘some’ is okay; it has to be because we live on a rock), but the limits are high, relatively: “The EPA has estimated that the additional lifetime cancer risk associated with drinking water that contains 30 ug/L (the MCL for uranium) is about 1 person in 10,000 who drinks two liters of uranium-contaminated water a day for 70 years.  Bathing and showering with water that contains uranium is not a health concern.” From a publication by Western Upper Peninsula Public Health Department, citing the EPA regulation. By the way, MCL is maximum contamination limit, and I added the underline.

I don’t drink 2 liters of water a day.

But these two contaminants are not poisons; they are either the result of decay, or actually DO decay, releasing energy that can burn/damage human tissue, if present in large enough concentrations, over a long period of time. What you need to know is that unless you have your water tested, you won’t know what’s there or how much, and once you have numbers you will need to investigate for yourself how or whether you want to remediate. And remember that the EPA do not regulate private wells.

In the meantime, don’t panic. Do your homework! Remediation…just the word, brings dollar signs to the forefront. But you will shortly be asked, if I know my business and I do, to choose whether or not to have your water tested for these elements, and it will cost you. Be ready.

Neighborhood Covenants

I know. Some of you think those are dirty words. But let me try to mitigate, because I see this all the time: Someone moves in and suddenly starts screaming about rules, which were in place WAY before that person moved in.

Covenants are for the purpose of protecting your property value…mostly from the influence of others who would destroy it. Imagine you buy a gorgeous $500,000 home in a community where there are no ‘restrictive covenants’ (I know, wouldn’t happen but bear with me). Then your new neighbor comes in and puts a pig pen next to your master bedroom. Then imagine that your new neighbor couldn’t give a hoot whether or not you like the smell. And imagine you say, “Well you are not supposed to build anything this close to the property line!” Then he says, “There’s nothing saying I can’t put my pig pen RIGHT HERE.”

Now try to 1) live there in peace; or 2) sell the house. Call me when either one happens.

Are you following me?

Imagine you live in a town home with assigned parking and your new neighbor has five cars, two of which he always parks in your spaces. Imagine that there are no covenants, no HOA. What are you going to do? Let me help you. You’re going to park in the next closest parking spot that’s not assigned, even if it is a quarter mile away…the distance you have to carry your groceries. With a broken leg.

Imagine you have a neighbor who works on race cars at night after he gets home from work, and does it until after midnight. Imagine you have to get up early after listening to race car engines roar all night. OR, imagine your neighbor paints his house neon orange while you are trying to sell you house. It happens!

The key is: Trying to sell your house. Covenants are often called “protective covenants” because they actually are designed to protect your property value.

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, has his or her own opinion of what landscaping looks like. And what a good exterior paint color would be, or what constitutes a ‘pet’. Because giving peoples’ opinions free rein would result in out and out war, we have covenants. Now: If you are a nonconformist, then you are probably going to buy a property with plenty of privacy and acreage, and that’s okay. If you are a nonconformist, you don’t want anyone telling you how to live your life (I get that comment a LOT). I know that right now, this minute, you don’t live in a community with covenants. I also know that someone starting a pig farm next door to your property will NOT go over well with you. And, I also know there’s not a thing you can do about it.

But for the rest of us, believe me, covenants and a strong HOA board to enforce them, are critical. Why? Because most people don’t care whether you like the smell of animal poop; most people don’t care whether or not your leg is broken and they’ve taken your parking space. Most people don’t care a hoot about your property value, nor, in many cases, their own.

What I’m saying is this: Protective covenants are necessary because you need to know what’s going to be happening in the community where you just sent a half a million dollars, if you would like to get that back someday with a bit of equity growth. Most people do.

An HOA governing board is made up of community members, with oversight, usually, by a management company. These people are not paid. They have to deal with a thousand complaints because…everybody has their own idea of…everything. You get the idea. And, most residents pay their dues on time, every time. But some people don’t. That means they are riding on your payment of fees. That’s why the HOA has an attorney; that’s why there are late fees. I’m thinking when it’s time for the road to be paved, you’d like everyone to pay their share of the cost. If you don’t have an HOA, you might have to pay their cost.

An entry monument to your neighborhood has to be cared for by someone, and the HOA pays for that out of the dues you pay. Why? If you try to sell your home and potential buyers see weeds and dead plants at the entry, guess what they do? Right! Keep driving.

It’s about property value. Yours! But all other things aside, if you ARE moving into a community with covenants, READ THEM BEFORE YOU BUY. That way, if you want to raise pigs, you won’t end up losing your property over it, or paying fines or having your home foreclosed on (and yes, that can happen).

If you buy a property with protective covenants and you have not read them, then you have no business complaining when you get fined for breaking those covenants. Just be sure you do your due diligence. That way you will HAVE good neighbors, and maybe more importantly you will BE a good neighbor.

Covenants are available in the tax website, listed as deed restrictions, covenants, restrictive covenants, protective covenants….there are a lot of names for them. So when you plan to buy a home, find them, or ask me, your agent, to get them for you. Know what the HOA dues are, and what the covenants say. Then you’re good to go!

First Time SELLERS

I’ve written many posts for or about first time BUYERS, but not for first time SELLERS. That’s unfortunate, because these sellers need good solid advice too. Let’s get started:

  1. People are not going to go through your closets, but they ARE going to open them to see how big that SPACE is. Do you have to organize? No, but it’s a good idea, because a mess there will implant the idea into the mind of the buyer that you approach home maintenance the same way: As long as its hidden it’s okay to ignore it.
  2. When it comes to the yard, knee high weeds and animal waste will turn a buyer away before they ever get out of the car. Mow the grass and clean up after your pets, BECAUSE, the buyers will assume you don’t care about the home and therefore have not maintained it.
  3. Clean is relative. So here is a money making rule of thumb. Clean BETTER than you ever have. Disarray and clutter make buyers think you don’t care about your home, and they they think you..yep..approach home maintenance the same way.
  4. PLEASE clean the carpet. It probably needs it anyway, and dirty carpet is a sign that, you guessed it, you don’t care about the house and therefore have not maintained it. Better yet, replace it if it’s in bad shape.
  5. Repairs: If you agree to do them, you are expected to have repairs done in a workmanlike manner. That’ means: Don’t hire Dad. It means: Hire a professional! And provide invoices/contact info. Realtors, it’s a good idea to schedule a followup inspection too, because ‘workmanlike’ is in the mind of the payer. Seller, do NOT skimp on repairs if you want to sell your home and NOT breach the repair agreement part of the contract. Do that and you could end up paying the buyer back EVERYTHING they spent during due diligence. Just do it right.

Listen, seller, all of this advice will help you get top dollar for your property, and it’s not rocket science here. Could you go with one of these companies you keep hearing about in ads? Yep, and they will low-ball the heck out of the offer for all of the things I mentioned. And for repairs, they’re not going to give you a chance to do them; they are just going to take more money off of their offer to get them done…guess what…PROFESSIONALLY.

Think about it this way. You wouldn’t buy a car with bald and/or missing tires, scratched up paint, a cargo area full of trash and animal waste, would you? No, unless you are buying it for scrap metal. Well the cost of a car is a FRACTION of what a buyer is offering for your house. Just do the right thing and do things right. If you do not, expect a lower offer to be the rule of the day.

Many times the buyer will provide plenty of due diligence money to pay for any repairs that are requested. So? What’s the problem?

By the way, don’t shut down power until you know you’re closing.

Undying Principles

We real estate agents have a saying: “Everybody has a family member who is a Realtor”. Another one: “There’s a real estate agent on every corner”. Seems like both are true, doesn’t it? And yet real estate companies pump out classes of new, fully charged Provisional Brokers every week, it seems. These agents come out of their classes rushing to take the state exam, go forth and get rich. They are told they can be doing really well in a very short time if they just work the process. And they believe it. Then they pay for the special ‘extra’ classes that give another level of insight. That’s a good thing; but they do this while they are working and gaining experience. All of the classes in the world won’t make you a good agent. Working your business will. Many new agents seek seasoned agents to find out the ‘secret’ to success. And seasoned agents are usually willing to share some insights.

The truth about real estate is that you have to grow roots. It’s that simple. You may have a great sphere of influence, and some of them might want to buy or sell a house, but once you run through them, if you’re not careful you can become disillusioned very quickly; because you’re going to have to wait a while before they come back around. IF they come back around. Whether or not they do come back is up to you and HOW you do business, not THAT you do business. Anyone can sell a house, but it’s HOW you sell it that makes the difference, that makes your clients remember you next time around.

There’s no secret. You just have to find the undying principles and work them diligently and relentlessly. Here’s what I see: There are some larger-than-life agents who hit the social scene, post their info EVERYWHERE, hang out at the hot spots and get noticed. But those don’t usually last. They get married, settle down, burn out, get divorced. Think about names you knew who were once great and now not so much. There are a lot of them. The ones who DO make it big are the ones who dug down to the foundation of business, put in the hours to figure out which of the tools stay in the box and which ones don’t. And then they tossed out the bad tools and never touched them again.

Great real estate agents are like corporations. The great ones are the ones who are diligent, who work the process relentlessly, who do a few foundational things: Deliver great service, care about your clients, and do the right things. And most of the best ones are not sparklers either. They are pretty normal folks who just work hard and deliver great service.

Listen, I’ve heard how ‘real estate has changed’ because of i-buyers or millennials or technology. I watched one company practically invite the seasoned agents to leave because, we were told, the millennial will BE the buyers. That was a bungled mess, by the way. No: The way real estate service is DELIVERED has changed, but the underlying principles are the same. Deliver great service, care about your clients, do the right things. Let me give you some examples.

I sold real estate to a client I have yet to lay eyes on. We did almost everything by email and text, with a few phone conversations mixed in. If I had tried to nail this man down to a sit-down at a table, he would have bolted. He had NO time for chit-chat. I adjusted the way I did business with this client; it was what he needed. But he knows me and his family know me, and they come back over and over. Why? Because HOW I cared for him and his family was key. That I knew what I was doing was key. I still delivered great service, I still cared, and I got him closed like greased lighting. But I couldn’t pick him out of a lineup. Have no clue what he looks like.

I helped a really nice young man buy his first home (I do that a lot), and this young man did not have a checkbook. He did everything electronically. Did I make him run out and get checks? NO! I helped him through the process. The WAY things are delivered has changed, but not the principles.

You can’t skimp on knowledge. You have to know the rules, the law, what is ethical and what is not. You should have a stable, working knowledge of technology. I happen to have cut my teeth on technology, so I can intuit my way through most programs and databases and I actually LIKE technology. But you don’t have to be a tech wizard; you just have to know basics and use them. Remember this: No company ever became great by using the fleeing jackrabbit style of tech tools. You don’t need a new one every month. Nobody can ACTUALLY use all of them. I probably use ten. Maybe more; I haven’t counted. But I use them all the time. Not each one is used every day, but there are some programs I ALWAYS use, some apps I ALWAYS share with clients, some programs to which I ALWAYS give my clients access. Some I routinely use to reach out to my contacts, some are for my organization. Find the precious few you can love to use, and them use them relentlessly. Forget the others. If you spread yourself too thin, it will show. If you throw a different system at your client every month, they will begin to think you have no direction. And I don’t know any agent, actual working agent, who uses every single new program tossed out there. It’s just not necessary.

What is necessary is to know what is changing out there and work with that system. The days of digging in your heels and refusing to get on board are over. You HAVE to stay relevant. I hear people say, “I’m too old for that.” I would only ask that you not stereotype me that way. I’m NOT too old for that (and neither are you; that’s a cop out), and I intend to stay on top of my game. You should too, by the way, on the road to greatness.

Never be afraid of technology. There’s nothing you can do that will destroy the Earth. There are ways to correct errors and after all, we are not born knowing these programs. Let go of the fear and just get busy. Find the ones that work for you and use them relentlessly. Diligently. Show up and work. New agents often feel pressured to be a superstar, because they are taught they can be in short order. Well, that doesn’t happen. You have to plant yourself, grow roots, feed the budding business. It takes time and effort. I’ve seen so many agents come and go because they got disillusioned by having completely unrealistic expectations. Real estate is not easy. It is not fast money. It takes TIME, a lot of it, and forget being off on weekends or even evenings.

When you become a big shot, you can put a message on your voice mail that says, “I don’t take calls after 7 pm”; but folks, that’s not serving your client well. Sometimes clients NEED to talk to you about something after 7. Take the call. If it’s a waste of time, THEN put if off until morning. Deliver greatness. It will bring your clients back to you. Will you be using the same database? Probably not. But your SERVICE and knowledge of the business will still be solid.

I had a conversation with a lovely new agent who has ‘it’. She’s bright, funny, driven and fun. She knows the law, the rules, the ethics. But she felt bad because she wasn’t blazing a trail. I had to remind her about roots. I had to tell her that I see the glow of a star in her. And I had to let her know she has permission to grow roots, but that she should work her business while doing so. She says she wants to be great one day; but she already is. She shows up, she works hard, she does business, and she does it relentlessly and diligently. She’s got it!

My Opinion about Madeliene McCann

I watched the Netflix documentary, of course. And I was as heartbroken this week as I was when it all happened. But I’m a decade older now, and a decade wiser, and this time around, I was stuck by something that really didn’t register in 2007. And that’s the absolute wretchedness of the human heart. By the way I didn’t make that up. It’s Biblical. Human hearts are wicked.

And it goes on still.

Different countries have different cultural norms and mores as you know. And the parents were at dinner…ALL of the parents…while their kids slept. Well that’s often what was done in those days, in their country, because there weren’t as many sickos running. So in their world, you didn’t have to ‘helicoptor’, and they did check on the kids, sharing that responsibility.

Maddie’s parents were devastated and they spent thousands of dollars and hours, trying to find their little girl. The WHOLE WORLD was heartbroken for them and desperate to help them and support them. For a while. And then true human nature reared its pathetic, ugly head. It seemed like the whole world turned on them and tried desperately to make THEM guilty of the murder of their child. Unbelievable.

Articles about the documentary talk about ‘secrecy’ among the group traveling with the McCanns, as though that is certain proof of guilt on the part of the parents. Well, pay attention out there: If you open your MOUTH about a crime, you will very likely be thrown in jail yourself, because some smooth-brain is going to label you as guilty. And then the circus begins. I don’t BLAME them for keeping quiet, ESPECIALLY to the media.

It reminded me of the Amanda Knox trial, and how she was vilified and imprisoned, for something they never proved, something she did not do. There’s a phenomenon called ‘groupthink’ wherein the group trying to solve a problem find a ‘possible’ solution…A possible solution…and rush that way like the Keystone Cops, eliminating all other possibilities…and in this case allowing the ACTUAL perpetrators to escape. Never to be apprehended, by the way. Savvy and educated leaders force a group to continue investigating until they come up with scenario 2 and 3, and following up on them, so that this doesn’t happen. Because most of the time, groupthink is inaccurate and it mimics electricity: it takes the path of least resistance.

Yes…you have to consider that the problem centers around those closest to the victim. If it DID, you find actual evidence. ACTUAL evidence, not someone’s OPINION of it.

Some will say that the police did the best they could, given their small force and inexperience in cases like this. Well that’s just not good enough. ASK FOR HELP. And ask for a lot of it! This is the 21st century, for crying out loud! But wretched human nature insinuates itself, egos rear up to fight for power and attention; and the case is lost RIGHT AT THAT MOMENT. Right then.

People, there is great evil in the world with regard to our children. The days of ‘free range parenting’ are over. There are people out there who view children, even babies, as commodities, a product they can sell for a lot of money. And they stalk the families and wait until you are not paying attention. The kidnappers can grab a child and be gone in mere seconds! This Netflix documentary talks about it, and about the ‘dark web’ where the purchase and sale of kids is ASTOUNDING. I suspect this is what happened to Maddie…and that breaks my heart. But I believe now, and will always believe, that the kidnappers could have been found, if not for human error, male egos and media interference in the investigation.

The great driving force in the condemnation of Maddie’s parents were the media, who were all too willing to be manipulated by the so-called investigators of this kidnapping. I was embarrassed to be human when I watched this documentary. What is WRONG with people?? I can’t imagine the added trauma these parents experienced as a result of the attack on them, and I pray to Almighty God that this doesn’t happen to them again as a result of this documentary, as I pray that Maddie will be found one day.

What is also frightening about this whole event is the reminder of how easily human beings are manipulated, and how ready human beings are to jump to conclusions. Why? Wretched hearts and a lack of ability to think things through. Those accused do NOT have to prove their innocence. It is up to the investigators to PROVE GUILT, and in the absence of PROOF, anyone continuously vilifying the accused should be held legally and financially accountable.

And that’s my opinion. Which in the grand scheme means nothing.

In Defense of the Stem

There’s a disturbing trend going on: Stemless wine glasses! I gasp.

The purpose of the stem is manifold, but chief among them is that it keeps your hot little hands from heating the wine! You know that wine should be served at the right temperature, right? If you heat it up, the flavor changes! It does! And since wine should actually be sipped rather than guzzled, time in glass could certainly give your hot little hands time to change the flavor (gasp again) of the wine.

Think how much harder it is to swirl the wine without a stem! Why, I can imagine the spills and overthrows without effort! Swirling helps to aerate the wine, which is a good thing, so you really must do it. You just must.

Nothing serves to aerate your wine in a sexy and spill-less way better than the stem. In your hot little hands, the stem lets you swirl and tilt during conversation, in a way you just can’t pull off without it, and you don’t heat the wine, remember. Think about it: lean against the column and tilt the glass offhandedly (right) and just be cool while you chat. Can’t do that without a stem.

Now, nothing says you can’t guzzle your wine, or even tilt the bottle right up to your lips if you like. The world will keep right on going if you do. And I’m no connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I rarely drink wine unless I am having dinner with friends; and it doesn’t even have to be a great dinner. It’s the friends who count. Then, I enjoy red wine, mostly, and I can’t recite the provenance or sulfur content blah blah blah. I just like red wine, preferably Pinot Noir. And…okay, I’ll admit I’ve had wine from a plastic cup! Gasp again! You gotta do what you gotta do. But nothing…and I mean nothing…beats a beautiful wine glass, with thin glass rim, larger bowl than opening, and elegant stem. Nothing.

In other words, without the stem, wine glasses just aren’t cool.

Choosing Colors when you Plan to Sell Your Home

One of the best updates for your home when you are planning to sell, is paint. Nothing creates quite the immediate impact as fresh paint throughout the home inside OR out. But it can go terribly wrong. I have shown properties where the colors throughout the house might as well have been clanging cymbals. The colors made no sense, and in fact created an extremely negative experience for my buyers. And the homes didn’t sell until they were painted, by the way. The goal for sellers is to make the home inviting and interesting, not dreadful.

Did you know there are ‘warm’ and ‘cool’ colors? If you don’t, take some time to investigate the concept. The fastest way to set up a subconscious frown in the mind of a buyer is to mix the two. If you have a brown roof, don’t paint the exterior of the home light blue, for example. Imagine a blue room with a gold/orange accent wall. Terrible! In the picture below you see a vibrant color combination, using a warm, Tuscan theme. The color scheme isn’t for everyone, but it works in a kitchen where pretty much everything else is white.

Another good idea is to start with a neutral and use decor to create contrast.

Martha Stewart once said that you should imagine your colors as if you are looking through the space, seeing all rooms in series. The colors should be complimentary, should not clash. They don’t have to match, but they do have to harmonize.

If you’re starting with a new home, you will most likely have the builder grade monotone throughout the home, and that’s fine if it is what you like; however most people choose to customize their homes with respect to wall color. Your home is the heart of your life and it should make you feel joyful, warm, safe. Color can do that, but choose a theme…mine is Tuscan. Yours might be The Beach. You get the idea.

However you choose to decorate, remember that when you sell, you want to appeal to the buyer. So be sure…whether you choose a cool or warm palate…that you keep to the same family. That way everything in the ‘background’ of the buyer’s subconscious experience flows and feels continuous. Remember that much of marketing is psychological. So don’t shock your potential buyers with disharmonious paint colors. One negative seed can grow into a complete rejection of an otherwise great property.

Predicting the Market

Holidays.  You love them, you dread them, you never know what you’re gonna get.  It’s like that in real estate markets, too.  I can predict with some level of accuracy what the market will look like in the last quarter and into the first quarter…from the 10,000 foot view.  I normally have a Thanksgiving and a Christmas closing…not ON those days, but close.  And I usually have closing or two in January.  Some real estate agents will say that people don’t buy houses during holiday season. Well, my clients do. Usually.  But I’m neither a mind reader nor a market psychic.  You just can’t predict accurately all the time.

This year I have multiple deals in the works for year end, more than ever, in fact.  So I figure that my normally SLOW months of February and March might be flat.  But then again… mayyyyybe not.  I have some pipeline business that will likely take me into the first quarter at a reasonable clip.  Could all of the buyers decide not to buy?  Yep.  They could.  Can’t predict.

What I’m trying to say here is that nobody can predict buyer behavior.  Right now, my listings have gone quiet, suddenly and inexplicably, which means buyers are ‘on a break’.  I blame it on Halloween, which is apparently a much bigger holiday than I gave it credit for being.  I don’t get it, but if I don’t blame crickets chirping on Halloween, I have to go to the spacecraft sprinkling anti-home shopping dust on the area, and frankly, I like the space ship idea even better.

It’s funny how this stuff works.  People can be maypole dancing around listings in the entire area, and then suddenly…crickets chirping.  So, if you have your home on the market, just know that these things happen, they come up and they go away.  And your home will sell.  Can I tell you when?

Nope. Wish I could.

Not Like Me

Let’s talk about something other than real estate.  The purpose of this blog is so that you can get to know me, other than as a real estate agent, after all.  Yeah, there’s a risk that you won’t ask me to be your real estate agent when you read my ‘what’s on my mind’ blogs, but that’s the point.  I’m giving you a chance to know me.

When I first started writing blogs, I found it hard to come up with a subject; but now I find that the ideas impact me like meteors hitting Earth.  Lately, I’ve had several experiences/conversations about people judging other people, harshly and unintelligently, and my view is that it’s sad, pathetic, and a flashing neon sign pointing to what I believe to be a  lack of insight on the part of the ‘judge’.   The people who have mysteriously showed up to talk to me about people judging them…JUST when I needed blog material…are a blessing.  It’s strange how that happens, and thank you.  Even though they were all, to some extent, upset, sad, angry, puzzled, any/all of the above, they got me to thinking…  So my perspective today is about how people judge others because they’re “not like me”, and the effect is has on the ones being judged.  This is a subject near and dear to me as well, because I am often misjudged.  I’m an ISTP, in case you are interested, but I actually fall near the middle of each metric.  So I can ‘go both ways’, as it were.  I’m also intelligent and strong.  I’m left brain dominant, so my risks are always educated and calculated.  And I frustrate the living stuffing out of emotion driven people.

Let me just say how happy I am that everyone is not just like ME, because nobody would ever go to a club, or on a cruise, or to karaoke.  Nobody would hunt, kill animals (but meat would magically appear for dinner); nobody would wear goatees or mullets, nobody would wear pants with words written across the bum.  Nobody would take drugs and everyone would stay as far away from doctors as they could get.  Nobody would tailgate (while on the interstate folks); nobody would practice road rage.  Everyone would watch Pride and Prejudice (With Matthew Macfayden and Keira Knightley only) over and over.  Golf would be mandatory, and adult crybabies would be banned for life.  So listen, if everyone was like me, I could bring down the economy of nightlife and vacationing, change the face of men, and keep a lot of wackos off the road…that one’s okay… and quiet things down a LOT.  And life would be very boring.  So it’s a GOOD thing we’re different. But you wouldn’t know it by how we treat one another.

I had a conversation with a friend this morning, about how much I like people who live their lives in primary colors, the ones who fly off the handle and say stupid things, but apologize a day later in colorful and heartwarming ways; the ones who have no fear of storming into a room and announcing at the top of their lungs that the music is awful, for example; people who throw out the corporate job to go DANCING.  People like that are, in my opinion, brave and colorful. Wacky, but colorful.  I like having them in my life.  Do I want them around all the time?  No way.  They might kill me.  But I admire their moxie.

I find it fascinating when I meet someone so fearful of the unknown that they plan their lives down to the second, leaving no time for spontaneity, or even laziness.  God forbid these folks have to take a risk!  No way!  And I find the high-risk people incredibly interesting, although I might think they’re a little nuts too.  See, the thing is this:  Just because someone is different does not make them bad or stupid.  It just makes them different AND it makes them interesting, like using spices and seasoning in cooking. We all, in our crazy or mysterious ways, make the world BETTER.

Interestingly, some of the characteristics in people that either attract or repel us are a simple (taken in perspective) matter of brain formation…physical…formation.  Sometimes it’s about how this or that part of your brain develops, and over which you had ZERO developmental control, and therefore can take no ownership of it.  And in fact it just might be that any characteristic you name is present in all of us on a sliding scale, not an absolute.  In other words, you have no right to judge me because I don’t do karaoke.  I will watch YOU sing, but no way will I do it and that’s OKAY.  I won’t judge you because you like it.

You’ve all seen people on the beach who are in no way suited to a small Speedo, or even a string bikini, yet they wear them and think they are the MOST desirable form on the beach.  Good for them!! Everyone else may be repulsed, or even laugh at them, but they feel GREAT.  That might be because of a characteristic called ‘ public self awareness’, that has been found to be function of brain development in the anterior cingulate cortex located in the frontal lobe region (I looked that up; I’m not that smart).  Point is, they’re not stupid; their brains just developed differently from yours.  Get over it.   I’m reading about the brain these days, because…well I like reading stuff like that.  On the other hand, that same function can cause someone to be too self-conscious, have low self esteem, the other end of that spectrum.  This point is:  Just be more careful about how you interact or treat them.  They are not boisterous like you, but they are no less worthy of respect.

Listen, that’s a vast oversimplification of a complex (to say the least) subject, but the point is that sometimes people are the way they are because of their PHYSICAL brain.  It’s not to annoy you; it’s not to manipulate you and it in no way gives you the right to judge them, aka hurt them.  If someone’s right leg is shorter than the left, you wouldn’t say they’re a bad person, would you?  Then why would you judge someone harshly because they like a different kind of music than you or because their view of the world is different?  It just makes no sense.  When you sit down with your friends to shred this person you find to be horrible, think about this stuff, if you can wrap your brain around it.  Some folks don’t have the physical brain development to be aware of their internal self anyway.  See, isn’t life interesting?

It is no secret that the left brain/right brain phenomena have been studied and well documented.  AND YET, there are those who literally HATE one another because they’re simply DIFFERENT.  This ASTOUNDS me.  Hate is a strong emotion, and dangerous.  The reality is that left brain dominant people will be frustrated with right brainers, and visa versa.  But instead of studying one another and considering the points of view, we take the easy way out and we judge and we hate.  One ‘type’ is more likely to use emotion over logic; that’s SCIENTIFICALLY documented.  Yet, we judge and we hate and we refuse to own our own ‘type’.  Why own it?  Because you may want to temper some of the behaviors that drive the others nuts.  If you have an interest in peace and respect, that is.

Hatred like that is wrong.  It’s disrespectful and undignified.  But MOSTLY…it shows that you have never studied anything about brain development, about influence styles (like Meyers-Briggs), about personality types, or about how the brain actually approaches problem solving, for example.  I studied this problem solving stuff in college and man, was I shocked into reality.  At the time, I was married to a man who built stuff while running down the road from the hardware store, bolts and nuts bouncing all around, and the project coming into formation as he ran.  Picture that.  I, on the other hand, spent months deciding and planning, thinking and budgeting…you know, the boring stuff.  Big surprise.  Once I finally said, “You know I think I like this one,” my husband was running out the door before the sentence was complete.  And you know, he ended up building the most beautiful fence, with just the right amount  of wood and nails and paint and concrete.  And he figured it all out while he ran.  That was because he used a different STYLE than me; we were in different QUADRANTS on the ‘brain’ chart.  Amazing.  I trusted him more after that for project work.  I still thought he was a bit nuts (and I was right) but I believed in his project planning after that.  More importantly I learned that just because he didn’t do it MY way, didn’t mean it would be substandard work.

I think the biggest impact of all of this is the effect the judging has on the ones being judged.  See, people of a certain ‘type’ tend to clump together.  That’s so they won’t kill each other.  Sometimes they marry each other.  And then they divorce each other. hahaha.  But the bottom line is this:  If you can open your mind even a little TINY bit, just know that your tendency to judge everyone who is not just like you is arrogant and uneducated and it’s just not smart.  It’s narrow minded and unwise.  Know that you hurt people you misjudge, because these ‘other’ people are doing what they believe to be right, what they believe to be kind, what they believe to be good.  They do it every day, all day, with the best intentions.  And then you come along and labeled them as bad, or wrong.  And you were wrong about them.  Sad thing?  You have NO idea what you’re doing.

And just because they are NOT LIKE YOU, you make the unintelligent and narrow minded judgment that they are bad and they are wrong, when in FACT, judge, it is YOU who are wrong.  Learn something about humanity if you intend to live within it.  Learn that someone being different that you is actually GOOD.  If you have the intellectual capacity and interest, you can find out what communication style works best with others who are not just like you and you may find that you have more in common than you ever thought possible.

I have a lot of friends who are very different than me, and they give my life interest and joy, laughter and experiences I’d never have otherwise.  They add spice and sparkle and flavor and color, and I love that.  Life is better if you open the doors and more importantly your mind.




Haggling Over Repairs, etc…

There are several home buying companies out there, encouraging people to not list their homes with real estate companies, citing ease of process, selling without listing, and “no haggling over repairs”.  Okay, a couple of thoughts for you.

First, you NEVER have to haggle over repairs ANYWAY.  You never did!  If you know you have repairs that need to be done, PRICE ACCORDINGLY AND LIST “AS IS”, if you don’t want the bother.  Done.  No haggling.  I’m a Realtor and I do it all the time when my clients don’t want to bother with repairs.

Second: These companies will still do home inspections, and you can prepare for their offer price to go DOWN, depending on the “no haggle” repairs they find.  That’s right.  They won’t haggle; they’ll just reduce their offer price or walk away.  Just like ‘regular’ transactions, by the way; and if they DO walk away, you’ve lost VALUABLE marketing time.

Remember that there really is no “haggling” over repairs, if you consider that you own the defects; they are your responsibility if you are the seller.  And you wouldn’t buy a car with two flat tires.  Why should a buyer buy your broken house items?  So fundamentally, it is NOT an argument.  It’s on you to either repair or reduce your price.  That’s simple and it’s appropriate.  These companies know that this part of the process is the most emotional and they’re highlighting that.  But remember, you can eliminate that right out of the gate.

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY OF ALL!!!!  Don’t underestimate the value of the FREE MARKET in real estate! COMPETITION, in other words.   If I determine your home value to be $180,000 and list your home accordingly, the free market could garner $205,000 or more!  If you let one of these easy buyer companies come in, they may offer you 180,000, your list price, and you’ll think you made out like a bandit; but they have also kept you from that extra twenty grand plus that the free market could have brought to you.  I don’t know about you, but a few weeks of waiting for 25 thousand bucks would be just fine by me.

There are reasons for the forms and the processes in real estate, people.  Primarily it is to protect the parties to the transactions.  That’s important.  Your local real estate companies are here to service your needs sometimes FAR beyond the actual transaction.  Law suits pop up years later, sometimes, for all kinds of reasons.  It’s a great idea to have had representation if that happens to you; trust me.  All that paperwork might be just fine with you in that case.

Real estate agencies are not an unnecessary cost.  Agents know the market, they know homes, they know inspection processes, what you are obligated an not obligated to do, and we maintain your records way into the future, JUST IN CASE.  And remember, Realtors build our business on relationships, not numbers of transactions, not “speed” of process.  That means we actually care about you and want to be there for you for the long term, and for your friends, and for your children.

If you are concerned about time on the market and showings, hire a GOOD REAL ESTATE AGENT, and avoid those concerns.  You have control over when people can go into your home; you can set the days and times people can come in for showings.  Didn’t know that?  Shame on your agent, then.  And if your house sits on the market a long time, IT’S OVERPRICED!  Simple, “uncommon sense”.  Reduce the price and get IN the market and get it sold.

Finally this:  There is nothing wrong with waiting.  Yes, your buyer’s lender has to have time to get the loan PROCESSED.  That’s not on you.  All you have to do is relax.  So waiting and waiting?  Big deal.  Again, if you have waited on your realtor and the process, then you have representation, and that might BE a big deal down the road.

I’m saying this: Beware of going into a transaction with no representation.  I’m saying, you need someone in your corner whose sole interest is YOU, not getting your home for a bargain. Since when did you trust any buyer to ‘make it easy on you’ when they were buying your home?