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?


For First Time Buyers: A Word of Advice

I am a real estate agent in the Raleigh area market, where we are in a terrible housing shortage, particularly in the first time buyer price point.  Here, many of our first timers use USDA funding in order to get 100% financing, and most of them don’t have enough discretionary money to cover all of their closing costs (some can’t cover ANY).  Often this is because they’ve just finished paying off student loans and can finally, barely qualify to buy a home of their own and get out of the rental racket.

Today, for every home under 150K that pops onto the market, there are about 8 offers on the table in a matter of hours.  First time buyers are offering at LEAST $5000 dollars above list price in order to have a remote chance at having their offer accepted and I’m guessing many of these folks will be disappointed by a low appraised value, potentially after they have spent a lot of money on inspections.  Bad idea.

What this means is:  1) The home is most likely NOT going to “appraise” at that list-price-plus-closing-cost price, because homes are ALREADY priced at the high end of the range due to demand.  2)  If the home does not appraise, then young buyer must bring to closing the difference between appraised value and offer price, or walk away and lose the hard earned due diligence money they put on the table with the offer.  First time buyers looking for sellers to ‘pay their closing costs’ cannot AFFORD to lose that due diligence money and forget about having them bring the difference to closing.  And by the way, sellers are taking FULL advantage of the situation by asking for HUGE due diligence amounts from people barely able to get into the market in the first place.  They do this because the likelihood of an over-list-price home appraising at the higher value is LOW; so the seller stands to be able to pocket whatever amount of due diligence money the potential buyer put forth.

First time buyers, please listen carefully.  If you offer above appraisal value and it actually works, you go into your first home “upside down”.  What you WANT is to walk in with some equity, and in this market that’s hard to pull off; but going in under water is just a bad idea.

So please consider this:  SAVE money to pay your closing costs, or at least SOME of them,  yourself.  That way, you can offer full list price and ask for ZERO closing cost assistance from the seller.  OR…ask for a monetary gift from a family member (with a letter stating such). You might just have a chance at having your offer accepted in that circumstance, and you won’t be upside down when you close.  Talk with your lender about what you have to do in order to accept a gift and make sure that’s allowed by your loan type, but it’s usually an option for you.

Listen, if you have to finance in your closing costs, you are advertising to a seller, who already has a pile of offers on the table, that you can’t afford the house, or that you have no skin in the game.  Either or both of those advertisements will get your offer rejected in record time.  Sellers want to know that you have invested enough to stick around through the whole process, because if you walk away, that seller has lost VALUABLE marketing time.  Sellers don’t like losing hot market time, with perfectly good reason.  If they view you as cash-poor, that makes you a bad risk in their minds.  In this market, sellers don’t NEED to accept a bad risk. There are too many good ones on the table.

This market is NOT the one where you can expect the sellers to fund your way into a house.  YOU have to contribute.  If you cannot, your best bet is a new home from a builder.  Builders have deep pockets and usually offer some closing cost assistance, although it’s minimal in the under-150K price point.  In short: you need money to buy a house.  Remember you may have to pay for inspections, and that can add up pretty fast if you do home, HVAC, roof,septic, well and crawl space inspections and a survey.

I love working with first time buyers, but if I always, always have to be the one to tell you that won’t work, you can’t do that, your offer was rejected, etc…then I end up being the bad guy and I’m not a bad guy.  This is just a twisted, crazy market, and your only viable option is to understand the market and play by its rules.

I once had a builder tell me he was just going to “ignore the market” and keep selling.  That was when the market was crashing.  Want to make a guess how that turned out?  It was a disaster, of course!  You cannot just ignore reality; you MUST operate within it.

So…know what you face going in, prepare monetarily, and prepare with patience.  You may submit several offers before yours gets accepted.  Meanwhile, SAVE SAVE SAVE!  I wish you the very best of luck and I’m proud of you for getting to the point where you can buy your first home!  Let’s get together, talk things through, and get you prepared for this crazy market.

Real Estate Commissions

If you are a buyer, sitting with your agent to write an offer, PLEASE do not insinuate that your agent is a crook because she’s getting paid to drive your transaction, a.k.a. do her job.  First of all, real estate agents deserve to make a living, just like you do.  I guarantee you wouldn’t work for nothing.  Second you, buyer, do NOT pay the commission under ordinary circumstances (unless you agree to!).  The SELLER pays buyer agenCY commissions.  Yes, thats agenCY and commissionS (plural)  So when you take out your calculator an start punching in numbers know this:

The amount listed pays both the LISTING and SELLING side commissions, paid to the COMPANIES, not to that one person trying to HELP you.  That person makes a LOT less than you think she does.

AND..the person you are accusing of being crooked doesn’t get that amount you think you know. There’s a commission split, worked out with the AGENCY, and that agent gets a small part of it.  You’re out of line trying to tell someone what they make, when in reality you have NO idea.

Further…commissions are negotiable!  Did you know that the SELLER of the home you want to buy, and who PAYS the commissions, has already had the right to negotiate commissions?  Yes!  But buyers/sellers who understand real estate NEVER negotiate.  They just don’t.  They know what they’re paying for and what they will be getting in return.  The most savvy buyers and sellers are glad to pay for the services we provide.

Sellers, if you want K-mart service, go ahead and negotiate commissions down. You get what you pay for.  But know that many of us will not list your home if we have to pay your way (of course not!).  And yes, our listing marketing comes out of OUR pocket, FOR YOU, until we close.  And we don’t charge you interest on that, by the way.

I’m frankly sick of people assuming I should work for nothing when they have no idea how many hours I put in to a transaction or how much work I’m doing on their behalf.  I’m on call pretty much 24 hours/day.   We agents get calls, texts, emails at ALL hours of the day and night to help YOU (while you sleep or while you are on vacation), from inspectors, attorneys, landscapers, repair people, other agents…it doesn’t stop.  Every agent you meet with, has spent money out of her pocket just to be there…for you. Every one.  I even stage homes, FREE! when most stagers will charge you 4 figures.  Imagine that.

Please don’t insult us.  Please don’t call us crooked and dishonest.  If you have a QUESTION about how commissions work, by all means ask!  But If you want  go-cart, service, please go to a go-cart agency.  If you come to my agency, expect to pay for our services, because we are FIRST CLASS and we get the job done.  If I started out my first meeting with you calling you a liar and a cheat, we wouldn’t get too far.   Treat me the way I treat you: with dignity and respect.  Or, we can make other arrangements.


Contingency Offers: Get with the Program!

The need for sellers to accept contingency offers is quickly becoming a frustrating issue in the Triangle. Because sellers usually need to find a home to buy, and because of the growing shortage of houses for them TO buy, we’re facing a new, huge challenge. Buyers know how hard it is to find a home to buy in general, but SELLERS cannot compete with buyers who do not have a contingency, once their home is under contract. But think about this: If sellers know they have a double challenge (selling their home and finding one to move to) AND they know agents will not advocate for them in presenting (and getting accepted) contingency offers, then we can expect a big drop in listings. There you have it: My prediction. With the existing shortage of housing, if people stop listing, we’re in for a terrible situation. Agents need to become familiar with contingency offers and stop viewing them as bad. If a seller needs to make a contingency offer in order to have a shot at a place to move TO when they sell, then this puts the owner of the DESIRED home in an even stronger selling position. They can ask for full list price, high due diligence, and pretty much anything else they want, just for accepting a contingency offer. They might have to make one more house payment than planned, but they can also get that payment in due diligence if they play their cards right. Contingency offers are not the devil and they are growing…GROWING…in popularity and need. But both agents need to be able to have a frank discussion about the likelihood of two successful transactions and work towards facilitating a win-win situation. I remember writing blog entries, appealing to buyers to be sensible about their position of power during the market crash. So many buyers lost perspective and put sellers in heart wrenching positions because they had the upper hand. I hope our sellers now, when it’s their turn to hold all the cards, will keep their perspective as well. And agents, think about these contingency offers. They may work to your sellers’ advantage, if you negotiate well.

World Trade Center Scientific Truth

I watched a recently added documentary about the Trade Center and of, obviously, 9/11.  I’ve watched many documentaries and news stories, of course, through the years, and every single time, I cry, even after all this time.  This documentary was called 9/11 Explosive Evidence-Experts Speak Out.  If you haven’t seen it, watch it.  It’s on Amazon.  I was enthralled, because these were educated, experienced scientists from specific backgrounds, people with centuries of experience, collectively.  These were people you want to listen to.

I am a scientist at heart:  That’s how my brain is wired, that’s part of my education, and where I spent the lion’s share of my corporate life.  Science.  In general, I like to know why.  Why anything, why everything.  I am naturally curious and I just like to know why things happen the way they do.  This is the one and only reason I’d like to live another century: To learn more stuff.   In the case of our national tragedy, I allowed emotion to overtake my logical side, and I just believed what I was told.  That was a mistake.

After having watched many documentaries, I have finally had to face cold, hard facts of science, which clearly indicate that jets did not bring down THREE world trade center buildings: Explosives did.  Now wait.  Stay with me here.  I am not a wacko conspiracy theorist and I do not believe our government is responsible for the deaths of thousands of American civilians.  But I do believe, because the science cannot be denied, that explosives were involved in the collapse of the North and South towers, and building 7.  You don’t have to believe me; look at the electron microscope images and x-ray spectra!  I worked with SEM and x-ray micro-analysis for years.  I know what I’m looking at.  Then watch building 7 fall.  Watch the penthouse go over and down first, INTO the building, and then watch the building collapse into free fall (impossible if it was due to a fire related collapse) onto its own footprint.  NIST said the collapse started on the lower left front of the building.  If that was true, the building would have fallen forward and to the left.  No.  That building fell due to CONTROLLED DEMOLITION.  That, in and of itself, is the “smoking gun” as one interviewee said.  I agreed, and nearly shouted with shock.

Many of the speakers in this documentary were engineers and architects, civil engineers, physicists, chemists, materials specialists, explosives experts, and my favorites, electron microscope analysts.  Clearly, there is a mountain of evidence that there were explosives (Thermite) involved, to the extent that pretty much any sample of dust or paint you can find, has microscopic bits of evidence pointing to thermite.  But beyond that, fundamental physical FACTS, if presented in a logical way, certainly show that the planes were “red herrings”.  They were there to create a huge distraction from the truth, which was that these buildings were demolished, in a controlled and well thought out manner.  They fell because a team of people, over some period of time, planted explosives in those buildings (and maybe others) and detonated them when the planes hit the buildings…except building 7, which “collapsed” later.  If you watch this documentary, you will see these buildings’ collapses in a way you haven’t seen before, think about it in a way you haven’t thought about it before.  And as for building 7, well there’s a reason we didn’t see much about THAT in the news:  There was no red herring, no jet flying into the building.  There was just a blatant planned demolition!  NIST actually stated that building 7 collapsed because of burning office furniture and interior structures.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  Last time I checked, a fire like that doesn’t burn at 2700 degrees.  And if it DID, no way the steel would melt, all of it, at exactly the same rate, allowing the building to free fall into its own footprint.  Not possible.  Work with me now: The parts of the building farthest away from the fires would fall intact, last.  Didn’t happen.

What disturbs me most about this path to the truth for me is this:  Most of the PhDs insinuate that there are TWO stories: 1) that we have been fed a line by our government that is NOT the truth; so therefore 2) the government must be the ones who did the deed.  That’s hogwash.  Wouldn’t  you want to believe that these talking heads would at least entertain the POSSIBILITY that we WERE lied to, and that there is a DIFFERENT possibility?  This is called “groupthink” folks, when one “good” idea is put forth and everyone jumps on that bandwagon, at the expense of the “best” idea, which is left unfound and unexamined.  Happens all the time.  And you can bet your booty that the government spin doctors know people have narrow lenses.  They know people won’t THINK.  Let this be a lesson to you:  PhD’s don’t alway know everything.  While you’re at it, remember this lesson:  Don’t stop at the first idea. Keep digging.  The best idea probably hasn’t been found yet.

Consider this: I believe that the government DID feed us a line of untruths, aided by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) and others, BECAUSE they knew we couldn’t handle the real truth.  In my opinion, that’s why the powers that be were so quick to remove evidence before it could be thoroughly examined.  Listen, there HAD to be HUNDREDS of experts who knew, beyond a SHADOW of a doubt, that those buildings were BLOWN UP.  People HEARD the explosions.  I can imagine some of the demolition experts hearing those sounds and RUNNING to phones.  Running.

We can debate about what happened afterward all decade and never figure that out, but I believe that the ‘government’ decided Americans couldn’t handle the truth:  That there are explosives experts who can come into downtown Manhattan and bring down your safe building in seconds, without you even knowing they were there. Then they can leave, and plan their next ‘event’.  Wouldn’t that shake our world more than air travel?  We think we’re safe because of all of these new procedures at airports.  Yes, they are needed.  But what about your workplace?

Perhaps the government used this story, the one about the planes dropping the buildings, as a reason for us to jump on board with war.  Either way, countries that seek to destroy our nation, to kill us, need to be stopped.  Do we fight back because of planes, or do we fight back because of explosive experts?  War is war.  Doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that Americans now feel we have some level of control of our destiny, some amount of “safety” because we get patted down before we fly.  Well, nobody’s patting down anybody in high rise buildings.  And there goes, my friends, our safety.  And maybe that is why (idea THREE) 1) the government lied to us; and 2) they were NOT involved.

Imagine that: Another possibility.

Remember that in 1993, there was an attempt to bring down the world trade center with explosives.  Remember that?  I called that “practice” when it happened.  And I said, “You watch.  They will get it right”.  And they did.  When nobody was looking, they did.  I don’t have a PhD and I could see that coming.  I said, “Give them 10 more years”.  It took them 11.  Again, no PhD.

We  have been told that 19 Fundamentalist Muslims brought down the twin towers and building 7.  I’m here to say that those 19 men were the red herrings, the ones sent to distract attention from the REAL terrorist teams, who got into three of the largest buildings in our country, planted explosives, and demolished those buildings in controlled explosions, dropping them in seconds, killing thousands, and terrorizing a nation.  Imagine if you dare, how frightening THAT scenario is.  And, if I’m right, they GOT AWAY WITH IT.  Or did they?

In this documentary, there are lots of government experts, talking (on video in the aftermath of the event).  Now, you get to listen to their line, compared to the science that has been done in the last 16 years, and compare them.  I felt like I’d been punched in the gut.  And I cried.  The “official” story about how materials behave in certain conditions was an outright fairy tale.  You can’t change the laws of physics.  And for the first time, these laws, and analyst experts about them, present their results.  Irrefutable.  AND they state the laws about which they pontificate.  Just in case you were wondering.  Great stuff.

I believe there actually was a “true” investigation.  I believe our government knows the absolute truth about 9/11 and I think they knew it FAST.  And when the PhDs say that Americans need to know the truth?  I’m not so sure.  Think about how frightening the truth is if I’m right…and I’d bet a big chunk of money that I am.

The majority of Americans don’t fly every day, but a majority DO go into big buildings every day, and imagine if any/every one of those buildings could drop within its footprint in less than 10 seconds.  If you think about that, you will know why we don’t want our kids and grandkids thinking about that scenario.  What we were given to think about, was enough.

I guess the gist of this blog is this: I make it my JOB to try to examine multiple facets.  So I watch for groupthink.  And I am furious when top of the tree experts get so narrowly focused that they miss the forest for the trees.   Watch the documentary and don’t believe people when they say there are two stories.  There are ALWAYS more.  And not that it matters to anybody  but me, but it took a LONG time for me to really look at the elephant in the room and THINK about it, with the aid of some fine experts and a great documentary.

It Isn’t JUST Target…

We’re hearing rumblings in the news about the problems Target is having with their company performance.  Seems like they are circling the bowl.  You can feel this angst when you go into their stores, which have fallen off the rails as their stock tumbles too.  Once upon a time, Target stores were clean, employees were engaged and happy; it was a great place to shop.  Now it’s like walking into the place where a fight just broke up.  You can feel the difference.  Then  there’s Amazon, and disgruntled employees, helping to nail the coffin lid.  In a way, there’s a bit of poetic justice happening here, because many of these department stores deserve what they are getting and most of their employees would agree.

First of all, employees, even supervisors, are paid embarrassing wages, but are pushed like pack mules to meet so-called “stretch” goals.  Well, in the corporate world, stretch goals make sense, because they are within reach with the right resources and motivation; but these “stretch” goals in retail seem to be deliberately set at a level ridiculously impossible…impossible… to reach, largely because the people setting them don’t know how to manage effectively and don’t know what a stretch goal actually is.  Instead they have one ‘public’ stretch goal and one wink wink goal that’s the REAL goal just for the managers, after the employees are jerked around and bullied when everyone knows the goal is not possible to reach.  What you get as a result is a bunch of otherwise good employees who know their managers are full of it AND dishonest, and who give up. And after all, what IS the point?  I have seem people pushed to tears to try to meet impossible goals, and I have seen employees torn apart because they needed surgery or had to be out for serious reasons.  Terrible.

The idea of terrorizing your workforce into excellent performance only works in North Korea.  In AMERICA, it’s not rocket science to understand that if you are going to pay a pittance and call it a wage, you need to make employees happy.  In the words of Jack Welch, “Reward them early and often”.  He also said you get RID of deadwood.  You do that because it is BAD BUSINESS to hire slugs and pay them the same wage as the stallions who are making things happen.  Duh.  But retail stores do that all the time!  They hang on to people who won’t work and make everyone else work harder. That’s one huge morale buster.  And bad morale is NOT undetectable by shoppers.

Stores like Target need to HIRE better.  I have heard it said a hundred times, “This was all we had to choose from”.  Bull.  If you don’t have good candidates, don’t hire anybody.  KEEP LOOKING.  Yes, the disgusting wage is the FIRST problem, but there are people who actually WANT to work looking for jobs.  Hire them.  If stores aren’t getting them in the applicant pool, fire the ad guys and hire some who can attract the kind of workers they need.  This is not rocket science.  And seriously, seven bucks an hour?  What do they expect?

While we are taking about hiring, it’s a BAD idea to promote people into management because just they are young girls with long blonde hair.  And it’s a BAD idea to force older employees out.  Those are types of discrimination. Agism, among other types of discrimination, is against the law…and Target paid a LOT of money for discriminatory hiring and workforce practices, according the news.  I have been amazed to see older employees at MY Target (where I rarely go), and by the way, that workforce now looks like ME…another ‘DUH” good idea.  It is IMPERATIVE to have a diverse workforce!  Get this:  Young employees are not going to stick around.  Don’t believe me?  Do the stats if you even know how, managers.  And they are particularly not going to stick around if they are bullied and terrorized, unless they are bullies.  Young people typically use retail as a stepping stone to BETTER jobs.  So if you want to keep your trained employees, how about this?  Make them happy!  Think different.  Steve Jobs said that.

Making employees happy doesn’t mean giving them control of the store; it means figure out what would be a good reward and then distribute that reward FAIRLY, for actual great performance, NOT to favorite buddies.  Retail is a lot like junior high school, really, and that needs to stop. It’s a serious business and it’s in trouble everywhere.  Time to grow up.

Here’s an idea:  HIRE MANAGERS  who actually HAVE management training.  I am not talking about somebody who hung in there long enough that it’s just time to promote them.  Just because someone worked in the store for ten years does not make them worthy of a management position.  And giving someone a management position just so they won’t get MAD is just plain stupid.  I’ve witnessed bullying, harassment, temper tantrums, downright meanness, fear of discipling slugs who work harder AVOIDING work than actually working (and taking it out on the ones who do work).  I’ve seen managers who are afraid of creative thinking, managers who are abusive to employees, managers who got the job because they were cute, or gosh, they’ve been here for twenty years so they MUST be a great manager.  And then they get busted for stealing.  No wonder they are in trouble.  The successful businesses are run like businesses, not like junior high school.

I have watched “managers” make themselves sick over a “plan-o-gram” and completely miss the sales numbers which show that the “plan” isn’t working.  Listen, it doesn’t do any good to impress a team of district ‘managers’ if the store is dying.  A good looking corpse is still a corpse, and eventually, that corpse store starts giving up and just accepting death.  That’s when you walk in, take a look around and just leave…and order online.  I did that at Belk recently.  It just wasn’t worth slogging through the disaster to find anything.  I took one look around and left.  I knew some “manager’s” head was getting fitted for the chopping block.  Think about it.  Costco is a warehouse and it’s booming.  It’s not pretty, but by golly they are selling…and their employees are happy, the store is neat and clean, and you can’t find a place to park in the parking lot.   Why?  They  pay a decent wage, they provide good benefits and they get GOOD people to work there.  Clearly the most important thing his not which shirt hangs on the front rack.  It’s amusing to see the failing stores break every management 101 rule and try to whip and bully employees into success.  It is actually almost fun to watch.

Next:  Retail will beat the crap out of you.  You work HARD in retail if you are not a store manager.  So, managers should try to be flexible with the schedule, since the store pays in PENNIES and in fact, time off might be a great reward.  Find out what schedule people WANT to work and try to accommodate that.  If you have some, ANY creativity, you could make that work.   If it takes  a manger a day to ‘do the schedule’, then there’s a PROBLEM with how schedules get done!  NOT rocket science.  TRY ANOTHER WAY.  No, retail is a think in the tiny little box world and that is one reason they will fail.

Finally,  employees should have the right to deck any manager who takes out his or her bad morning on the employees the minute they walk in the door.  It seems to be acceptable…and I say it’s because these people have zip management training…to treat people worse than I’ve seen anyone treated.  Workplace harassment is also against the law.  Good to know, “managers”.

Target needs to raise their wage, diversify the workforce, make it possible for employees to give valid feedback about what’s happening out there…and listen.   Do you think when they do their “surveys” and ask your age, gender and ethnicity, they don’t know exactly whom you are?  Retail deliberately skew their “valued feedback” by subtle bullying in their supposedly anonymous, MANDATORY, surveys.  If you are a ship captain, do you WANT to know if your ship is leaking, or do you want to be worshipped?  Don’t answer that. I already know.

The only thing department stores have to do to survive is to make shoppers WANT to go to their store.  Shoppers want to FEEL good when they go to the store; and make no mistake about it, unhappy workers change the FEELING.  Pay them, get rid of bully managers, stop the rah rah sis boom bah meetings and treat employees with dignity and respect instead.  Hire good workers; fire the slugs.  Reward the good employees, and by the way, a nickel more an hour is NOT a reward; it’s an insult.

I shopped at Home Depot the other day, and a young man came to my line with a scanner and a stack of cards.  He scanned my purchase item while the person ahead checked out, and by the time I got to the register, all the check out person had to do was scan my card. Meanwhile the POLITE young man was scanning the stuff of other shoppers in line and giving them cards.  He was engaging, happy, actually treated the customers like he was happy to see us.   Now that makes me want to go back.  See?  Simple.

Post Cord-Cutting

Remember when I told you I got Roku?  Well I never even look at that now.  It’s all antenna TV, Netflix and Amazon…and Netflix is close to the chopping block.  We really are like a bunch of mules on the cart path you know.  Somewhere along the line, cable companies convinced us that we NEEDED their TV services so they could gouge us financially.  Well I’m here to tell you, the weaning process works.  There are a lot of other, better things to do than watch cable TV…which equals COMMERCIALS!

I’ll tell you wha’t I’m enjoying on Netflix and Amazon:  British tv.  I’m getting to know some of the wonderful actors and even have some favorites that I hate waiting for the next season to post.  Check it out.  If you like Idris Alba, I found him a long time ago on Brit TV and fell in love with him as Luther.

Life without cable TV?  EXCELLENT still.

State of the Housing Market in the Triangle

Hi everyone!  I thought I’d touch base and talk a little bit about the housing market in the Raleigh NC area.  We are experiencing a hot market here, and also a housing shortage.  Anyone who lived through the crash as a realtor or builder, predicted this situation, because so many builders went out of business and because so many “cheap” homes were bought as either rentals or primary residences as the market righted itself.  NOW, however, we are experiencing the slinky effect.  There simply are not enough houses to satisfy demand here.

We lost a lot of builders and developers in the crash, and I assume many never came back, although many did.  I see many of the same names pounding out spec homes and custom builds, but they can’t keep up with demand. Interest rates have been at historic lows, fueling the feeding frenzy, and now, there are not enough existing homes either.  Baby Boomers are asking for one-level living, and requests for senior living communities are raging.  This situation could also have been predicted, although you wouldn’t think so by the scramble to supply this need.

I drove around some of the older communities and knocked on doors, encouraging people who owned older ranch-style homes to list with me, because not only could I sell their house in the blink of an eye, but also,they could buy a home at a very low interest rate.  Problem is, now there AREN’T any homes for them to move to if they do sell their ranch style home if they want to be under 200 thousand.

So we’re in a bit of a pickle.  Trying to find a home under 200 thousand that’s within a reasonable commute distance is next to impossible, although there are some town homes coming on line under 160 thousand that will not force a huge commute to work. Problem is: Townhouse are two story. Baby boomers want one story.

So.  We talk money.  Because of the supply/demand discord, prices are jumping.  It’s easy for me to list at the top of the price range indicated by a market analysis, and often get at or above list price offers!  This is great for sellers, and kind of a balancing of the universe; because these folks took a beating in the crash.  Senior communities are popping up all around, just getting off the ground really, but they are priced so high that many of my clients who might want that kind of home laugh and go another direction.  People moving to a fixed income  lifestyle often can’t easily afford a starting price in the 400’s.  I do hear that DR Horton is starting an over 55 community in this area priced under 200.  Now we’re talking.

So it’s as hot, crazy market.  If you are thinking of selling, call me.  We should start by talking about what you want to go TO, and makes sure we can find it for you.  Because if we list your home, chances are it’ll fly off the market faster than you may want it to!  But it’ll fly at a higher price than you might think too!


Statistics on Home Sales

Articles on home sales fill the internet lately, and most people cite those statistics without doing a deeper dive, or having the background information to interpret the data.  But it is imperative that you know where the numbers come from that influence your decisions related to buying a home, or selling your existing home, or both.  And it is important that you understand your market well enough to truly understand what the data is telling you, or whether it even applies.

I just read a article that said existing home sales are down 2.6%.  For many, that would be the end of the story.  But in my market, if existing home sales are down at all, it is definitely not due to the economy; it is because there is a shortage of listings.  In other words, MANY realtors have clients standing in line to buy existing homes, but there just aren’t any available to buy in their price point.  IMPORTANT: If you are thinking of selling YOUR existing home, this is GREAT news for you!  Supply is low and demand is VERY high.  This means many thousands more dollars in your pocket!  So in this case a 2.6% drop is not bad news. In fact, it’s a reason to celebrate.  And that is in the Raleigh/Triangle market, not in Chattanooga.

Something else to consider is seasonal effect on data.  Most folks don’t want to have their home on the market for sale during November and December, because of the holidays.  And during summer vacation time, it’s not unusual to see a slow down in buying activity.  It doesn’t predict gloom and doom for the market; rather, data predict typical human habits and traditions.  I always have homes closing over both Thanksgiving and Christmas, so some folks clearly take advantage of the lower supply of homes and they list, or they take advantage of the holiday slowdown to take advantage of buying at potentially a lower price.  See how this works?  Make the data work in your favor by understanding it.

The other thing you need to dig out of these articles is the source of the data.  I just looked at a chart showing lowest time on the market for existing homes.  I know our time on the market here is much lower, on average, than what the chart showed.  So I found the small print and saw that the data came from San Francisco CA, Billings MT, Chattanooga TN.  This data had NOTHING to do with our local market.  So be sure you know where these “stats” come from.  In fact, in some neighborhoods, I can almost predict when a home will go under contract, based on that community’s time on the market.  In the last case I examined, time on the market was about 40 days, lower than that chart indicated from these other areas.

The bottom line is this, and you’ve heard it a thousand times: Real estate is local.  Now that sounds a bit ridiculous, right?  But the saying is packed with truth.  What happens in San Francisco has nothing to do with us, here in the Raleigh/Triangle market.  Each day we have 60+ people moving here, needing homes.  EACH DAY.  So our market is always healthy, or healthier, than markets anywhere else in the US.  This means if the economy crashes, we will slow down, but not as much as most other markets in the whole country.  So don’t be afraid to buy, and I will beg:  Please list your existing home.  I can sell it!  I probably have a buyer waiting.

The Amazing Antenna

Every once in a while I amuse myself.  You guys know I cut the cord a while back, and that I’ve been learning to juggle the Roku box I got instead.  Now I like Roku just fine and I can set it up to scroll through past news segments, but getting real-time news was a head scratcher.  I found that I missed being able to watch live, local news on TV and I missed weather reports, particularly when we had a storm system bearing down on us.

So I got Sling TV.  Not really impressed.  I find that it’s not well organized for my taste, too cumbersom to navigate through, to me.  I’m just not in love with it. I aim high.  I’m not going to keep Sling TV  because I got this great gadget called an antenna!  It’s called SLIVR and it comes with a booster, which I am sure you need.  Easy to hook up, good for receiving signals from within a 55 mile radius.  RADIUS.  That’s a long way.  And, there’s an app (oh big surprise) for finding all of the broadcast towers WITHIN that 55 mile radius, so you know which way to aim the antenna.  Well why not.  And you can effect the channels you receive by which way you aim the antenna.  Only one direction picks up QVC so guess which way I turn it.

Installation instructions looked too easy, which immediately made me suspicious because I didn’t need an allen wrench or washers or pegs, like most self-builds do. But it really was that easy.  Boom!  Local TV.  Clear as a bell.  AND…there’s a channel that broadcasts a TON of the really old shows, like Lariat, Wagon Train, Bewitched, F-Troop, a channel that’s all crime shows. Heaven, really.  OH, and also weather and news, which was the whole point to begin with.  I got mine hooked up just in time for “the great blizzard of 2017” (one inch ice/one inch snow).  I know.

Now the ‘amusing’ part.  I was telling someone how great this antenna is, and it’s FREE to watch these channels.  I’m not even sure how many there are but it’s more than three.  You get where I’m going with this.  While I was talking about how I LOVE my antenna, I had to stop and laugh.  Yeah, antenna, like EVERYONE used before the advent of cable, those wretched grinches.  So yeah, antenna use is nothing new; it’s just coming around again.  And of course I HIGHLY recommend it.  Amusing, isn’t it, that we completely forgot about antennae, that there were free broadcasts out there?  I feel like a mule on the cart path, really. I’ve been duped!

But now, I get to watch commercials again (nothing is perfect) and above all I get the Bosley Hair Replacement commercials. How did I live without THEM?  If I hear “This is MY hair, I can wash this hair” one more time I’m going to scream.  You guys know:  I scream at my TV all the time.  But NOW I scream at NO CHARGE.  Life is good.

So I think the best combo is just Netflix, Amazon (apps on smart TVs) and an antenna.  Boom.  Drop the remote.