Dear CNN

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I tell the truth and I apologize if I hurt someone.  I do the right thing, even when it might hurt.  That’s what my father taught me.  My mother taught me that I’m no better than anyone else and neither is anyone better than me.  Look people in the eyes, in other words, on equal ground and expect them to be looking back.  It was a great lesson.  I live by it every day.  I am also a person of faith and my faith says “Love one another”.  This is why I cut out CNN and anyone or anything associated with them, years ago.  They in every way go against my value system….and apparently that of a LOT of others too.  

I’m patient, and I know it takes time for ‘voting with my feet’ to take effect.  I knew, years ago, that spewing out hatred, attacking individuals and institutions that disagree with you, was the absolute wrong thing for a respected, beloved NEWS organization, to do.  And I knew CNN was crippling itself by degrees and would fall to its knees.  I also know that when I feel this way, so do a WHOLE bunch of other people.  I knew others were doing the same thing I did.  

CNN was my go-to for news, for truth, for objective reporting, done professionally.  Then…the environment became toxic and one pointedly trying to make me believe what they thought I should believe.  WAIT a minute.  YOU are supposed to tell me facts, people, just facts.  I can make up my own mind how to FEEL about them.  Exactly who gives you the right to tell me how to think and how to feel??  And I saw things happening in the news that CNN wasn’t reporting, because it apparently didn’t align with the great big talking head on the screen’s agenda.  What exactly was happening over there?

Look, I don’t watch one single outlet; I watch dozens.  So I can clearly see when the same phrase is recited by ALL of the manipulating outlets.  People don’t do that.  We’re not robots.  We don’t walk in lockstep repeating a mantra doled out by the great big talking head on the screen.  Good writers don’t WANT to use someone else’s words!  Apparently CNN does, and so do their affiliates.  That tells me something about their content writers, actually.  So the intelligent ones of us who like the truth and need clean data in order to make decisions, can EASILY see ‘talking points’ shared among the outlets who have an agenda to manipulate, rather than to disseminate actual news.  The job of these people is to JOURNAL the truth, not to fold in their corporate agenda designed to manipulate the people.  That’s why they are CALLED journalists, but actually are not.  There’s no journalizing; it’s called crybaby whining and temper tantrum manipulation.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Now, it should be said that this TACTIC works for ‘some’ people, who might say, “Oh wow, they’re all saying the same thing!  It must be true!”  Well bull crap.  That behavior should make you nervous! Why?  Because you are very likely to be manipulated.  Check it out.

I don’t CARE what your political affiliation is, nor do I care what anyone’s is, unless they try to strong-arm or manipulate me to thinking like THEY think.  I get to make up my own mind and furthermore, I’m capable of doing that.  I refuse to hate anyone and certainly won’t do it because you TELL me to.  That goes against what my parents taught me, it goes against my faith, and…I have a high IQ and I use it.  By the way, if you are a news anchor I should in NO way be able to detect your political leanings.  I do not CARE how you feel about the news.  

Speaking of IQ, I could see that every issue they ‘hated’ they made sure to say ‘Trump’ with it.  I believe it to be a psychological ploy to align the name Trump with everything bad.  That, by the way, is still going on.  Watch for that and see what you think!  Trump can’t be the reason for everything that goes on!  Intelligent people know that, and we also know…are you ready for this…ALL politicians are full of crap.  ALL of them.  So when you try, as a NEWS organization, to make me think Trump and Bad Stuff go together, give me a break. Go away.  Oh yeah, that’s what you’re doing.

Trump.  Oh my god.  I got SO tired of hearing them smear him like school children misbehaving!  I did not care, do not care now, what they think about him, and if they know anything about politics, they know ‘mainstream’ means people use some of the democrat ideas and some of the republican ones.  That’s the mainstream, the ones CNN lost, by the way.  MAIN being the operative part of that word, implies the great numbers of folks they were pissing off.  Well, good bye CNN.  I hope you get the message finally.  You are still on your knees but you will fall onto your back soon enough, and that will be okay; in fact it was my hope when I cut you out of my life. There’s no coming back from a cancer like the one that took over this once great company.  It’ll be a shame, because I REMEMBER when you were the giant, the best, the most trusted.  I kept you on my TV all the time in those days.  But, now, I will still be glad to see truth win.  Truth, remember, is important to me.

Now when I see the vitriolic talking heads being fired or moved to the shadows, I’m not sorry.  They are getting what they deserve.  They forgot they are there to tell the news, unbiased.  Didn’t that used to be part of their advertisement years ago?  Apparently MSNBC takes some of them, but hmmm.  Let’s see what happens there.  And here’s another thing personal to me: I’m not inclined to be a follower, particularly a follower who looks right into the butt of the mule on the cart path in front of me as the CNN employees do,   I’m either a leader or a loner, most of the time.  If I’m in a job where I am forced to go against my upbringing, I’M QUITTING!  Why?  Because the dollar bill is not my god.  In other words, I have integrity and I have a brain I actually use.  And now, what are the chastised ones saying?

Oh they’re denying they did what they did, the things that are actually in video archives to be replayed to the universe.  So when they lie, it’s a galaxy-wide lie.  And the ones glad to see the lying institution falling, are happy to show those videos.  Look, these toxic people need to be OFF CAMERA.  Period.  I don’t need to be whined to; I need the news, the FACTS.

Late night talkshow hosts who jumped on that bandwagon were also cut from my list of people to watch.  So, mainstream, whatcha think?   Netflix?  Are you listening?  Facebook, looked at your stock lately?  Disney?  How about you?  Twitter?  I know you are.  All of our ‘institutions’ need to get in touch with reality, the mainstream, and start realizing, we can take you down, and we are doing that.  Watch the news, watch the stock market.  WE matter.  WE are the mainstream, and we are all colors, all genders, all socioeconomic groups, all faiths, we work all kinds of jobs and we do not like hate being forced into our lives.  

Do we want you to think like we think?  Nope.  We want you to see facts, all of them, so you can make up your OWN mind.  You can still do what you do, but you won’t have the big microphones and big cameras to try to manipulate smart people.  You will still get the dumbasses to follow you, the ones too lazy to do little bit of homework, but that’s another blog.  Know there are a lot of thinking, smart folks out here, who do NOT do the things you accuse us of, and we do NOT think the way you say we do.  We DO love one another; we are NOT racist; we are not killers; we are not ANY of the things you “stereotype” us to be.  We are good people, hardworking people, who pay taxes, who help others, who donate to causes, you know, the mainstream stuff.  And isn’t it wrong to stereotype?  Isn’t it wrong to discriminate?  Well, CNN, that’s exactly what you have been doing to us.  So good riddance.

I don’t have anything against a good debate.  I grew up in science, where sometimes scientists disagree and they have debates, they defend their work, they work it out!  And then, we went for coffee together and talked about our lives.  A true debate has NO HATE in it.  It has a position to be defended.  Remember, you learned that in college?  If you have to manipulate and lie,  you have no actual position; you have a WISH.

So yeah, CNN.  I would say, “See ya”, but I won’t see ya.  Haven’t for many years.  MSNBC, look out the window at the mainstream down on the sidewalks.  Don’t say you weren’t given a heads up.

Another Adjustment?

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Constant change.  There’s an oxymoron for you.  That’s the real estate market now, though.  Sellers who have worked diligently to get their home ready to sell have now missed the blazing hot market, and must deal with crickets.  Yep, that’s what you hear while you wait for the elusive buyer.  It’s a shock! We’re expecting to get an offer in the first week and now, nothing!  It is frustrating and financially scary in many cases, particularly the ones where the seller has already moved out and still has a payment on the vacant home.  But that’s the reality we face now.  So it’s more important than ever for you to understand a falling market.

A falling market is the hardest to price, in my opinion, because by the time you are ready to upload the details for the galaxy to see, that price is no longer in the bullseye.  And you can’t predict how far nor how fast the market will fall.  In a RISING market you can just add in some percentage and get pretty close, still being flexible enough to RAISE the price as needed.  But things are different in a falling market.

The key is the ‘ing’ part.   (I had my fingers on the wrong keys and instead of typing ‘ing’ I typed ‘omg’.  I’m laughing because, well, that’s SO appropriate!!)  But, present participle is what that ‘ing’ means.  That means something that’s “in process”.  FallING.  What does that mean to you, seller?  It means you have to put on your running shoes and be flexible and nimble as regards pricing.  I can get you close to the bullseye, but as the market falls, we have to be ready to chase it in order to stay IN THE MARKET.  Stay with me now, because that statement comes with a caveat.  That’s important! Lowering the price may not make a difference!

You can be ON the market and not be IN it, and ‘normally’ you can tell you’re not in the market by the absence of showings.  So if you’re not getting showings, you’re THEORETICALLY not IN the market.  I know, this sounds weird but stay with me.  I promise to explain.  IF you lower your price enough, you’ll capture a buyer, but if you have to go to 5 bucks, is that really a good idea?  Uh, NO.  I say that because of this, the caveat. 

If a huge factor in trying to sell is the ECONOMY, then you may lower the price and STILL not get a buyer (read that sentence again, carefully).  That would be because of how financial conditions have changed and maybe your intended buyer can no longer a) get a loan; or b) afford the payment if they can still get a loan.  Follow me?  It’s not always about the price.  It is always about the economy.

I’m saying all of this to give you a couple of factors of many about pricing a home to sell it.  It is never easy, except when there are   six cars parked out front with drivers frothing at the mouth.  Those days are gone forever, by the way.   But it is exceptionally hard when the government sticks their spoon in the pot and stirs it.  It gets crazy, and listen, we cannot control that.  We can only adjust our sails. You know that metaphor.  Now more than ever it’s important for sellers and their agent to collaborate about pricing and strategy.  Yes, I said strategy, a HUGE factor.  If you cannot afford two payments, for example, you’re going to have to price low and take your medicine. That’s just plain reality.  And that’s an example of your strategy being: GET IT SOLD FAST.  Another strategy is: I don’t care how long it takes, I want my price.  (That doesn’t usually work, by the way hahaha).

Understand that I, your agent, still have not figured out how to conjure up a qualified buyer from the ether.  All of the chanting and sage burning hasn’t worked.  Gosh, would my life be different if I could.  I, like you, am at the absolute mercy of a FALLING MARKET.  And while I always want to get you a good price for your home, the MARKET tells us what your home is worth.  The MARKET shows what has sold for how much in your proximity, and like it or not, we have to be IN the market, or we hear….you guessed it: Crickets.

Another thing to KNOW is that ‘days on the market’ are going to increase in a falling market.  Instead of days to go under contract, it could be MONTHS.  Sorry, that’s the reality.  If you sell for 5 bucks though, hey you can sell in a week.

So don’t beat up your agent please.  We are just as upset as you are, maybe more.  Believe that.  And, put on your thinking cap and your running shoes because this market is whew…a bear.  And in real estate, playing dead is the wrong strategy.  So is yelling and making yourself look bigger.  This is teamwork time.  

I can help you; I’m a strategic pricing specialist.  That sounds impressive, but in reality, we are a team and we work together.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.  Call me.  I’m Brenda and I’m a Coldwell Banker Advantage agent.  Let’s talk!


Get Off of my TV

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A ‘journalist’ with Fox is reporting on a crash into an Apple store.  She said, “He had went….”  That’s as far as my brain would let me go.  WENT????  HAD WENT???  I missed the whole rest of the story.

This a a journalist.  Kill me now.

One Bad Photograph

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I spend a lot of time online looking at real estate photographs.  I’m a real estate agent; it’s my job.  But these days, I expect to see crap photographs on listings.  ISN’T THAT NUTS?  I EXPECT to see bad photos???  In the digital age???  Listing agents, you are supposed to represent your seller client, and the photos you post online represent YOUR expertise as an agent AND your customer service skills. Think about that for a minute, will you?  I’m saying there are a lot of slack agents out there.  And sellers, if the photos used to advertise your property are terrible, will you please fire that agent?  We excellent agents don’t need the bad press.  One bad photo can lose your buyer.  Yep, they’re going to find interest in the homes where the photos look GOOD.  Nobody wants to actually shop FOR a dingy, creepy looking house.  Well, maybe some do, but not most buyers.  Let’s just say that.

I am sharing this insight with you, although I cannot believe I need to:  One bad photograph will make your potential buyer click off of your listing!  My GOSH, agents, can you please take good photographs?!?  It’s EASY; at the very least you have an expensive camera on your PHONE WITH editing capability.  Or, here’s a novel idea: Why don’t you hire a photographer who CAN take good photos??  I have a good camera with a bounce flash attachment, but you don’t need that.  You just need to photograph at the right time of day and think about what you’re doing.  By the way I use both my Nikon camera and my smart phone when I photograph a listing.  

Listen, I’ve had to photograph homes where bright lighting is not a good thing….I know.  Sometimes tar from years of smoking has created streaks on walls that show up in bright light.  But in general, it’s the LIGHTING that can make the difference in someone clicking OFF, or sticking around to investigate your listing.  Remember, selling is largely psychological.  I studied marketing in college; I know this to be true.  Most importantly I have the experience to prove it is true.  It’s about lighting, color, description language, camera angle…you get the idea.  You want to put assets in a good light, not hide them in shadow.  Give it a second’s thought!  Try being creative with your advertising, rather than dark and dull.

Here’s another idea: Don’t put 10 pictures of the ‘new kitchen island’ in the listing.  One or two will do nicely.  These days, buyers want INSTANT gratification, and clicking through ten images of the same thing will annoy your potential buyer.  Annoying is not what you want to do.  And besides, you want these folks to be interested enough to tour the home IN PERSON.  There’s a novel idea!  Create interest, not boredom.

Look, I’ve photographed spaces that were tough to present in a good light.  Don’t be afraid to ask your seller to help you move the King Kong statue out of the picture for just a minute.  And I chuckle when I think of how many times my awesome fake green plant showed up in photos of various homes and various rooms over the years, just to give the room some life.  Hmmm, I wonder where that plant is. Anyway, help out if you can!  Make the spaces look fantastic enough to draw in buyers.  Yeah, sometimes the seller loves the neon orange carpet complemented by neon purple walls, and you just have to go with it.  But at least take a good picture of it with fantastic lighting.

Now…about editing.  Don’t photoshop in extra square footage, and for goodness sake stop using WIDE ANGLE LENSES to stretch the photo or using the equalizing feature to create a photo that looks like an acrylic painting!! That’s fake, and when buyers see ‘fake’….well, buh bye.   The leap from ‘shopping’ to ‘running away’ is fast and short.  I’m talking about editing the brightness, highlights, contrast.  THAT kind of editing.  And use the crop feature to LEVEL the shot, or crop out a bush you don’t need in the shot.  Be HONEST, but present your client’s home in the best light.  I’m trying to help you, here.  And if you get fired, I’m showing up.

Seller, check out your agent’s advertisements online.  You’re paying for good service; make sure you get it.  Oh, and uh, why not move the King Kong statue to storage?  Just saying.

I’m Brenda Briggs with Coldwell Banker Advantage.  Find me online and contact me to talk about your real estate questions.  I like to chat.  And I’ve been doing this a while; I know what I’m doing.


It Is More Difficult Than It Looks

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For some time now, pricing a home has been a bit easier than normal, because of a raging hot market full of desperate buyers.  Agents were able to do a quick check and just add thousands to the number we derived…and it sold for that number or more!  I say ‘quick’ because the market moved so fast if we took too much time, we’d have to start over because another buyer would swoop in and buy the house before we were ready.  Well things have changed.  Pricing a home is as difficult as it has ever been for many reasons, not the least of which is that the markets are in flux…markets meaning 1) economic; and 2) housing.  Pricing a home has become a formidable task.

First, let me say that any agent who does a plug-and-chug ‘CMA’ and takes that as gospel is inexperienced.  You know the ones:  Plug in some recent sales and let the computer spit out a number.  I have never used them, don’t even know how.  They’re never right, and they CAN result in a home selling extremely fast (sounds good, right?) but for far less than it is worth.  Sometimes I see sales prices and shake my head.  Sometimes I can spot an inexperienced listing agent a mile away.   If a contemplative deep dive market analysis is done, the sales price makes sense.  A market analysis is complicated, involved, and takes hours.  It involves at least sixteen different elements, not the least of which is the economy.  And as I have said 99 times now, real estate is local, so a major factor is where the home is LOCATED, even within a subdivision.  Prices of recent sales nearby is just one factor of many, some with greater weight.

Greater weight?  Like what?  Well, what if a scary crime happened on a walking trail that loops around the community?  There you go: News.

Many years ago I used a spreadsheet, a BIG one, to price my homes.  This spreadsheet almost included the phase of the moon.  I loved it, in part because by the time I finished using it, I practically knew how many grains of sand were in the driveway of homes on the street.  It forced me to think about things most agents never consider, like: what percentage are buyers willing to pay above existing home prices to get brand new?  I know that number.  It holds true every time.

But today, it’s hard on both buyers and their agents, because while buyers look at the size of the closets, their portfolios are shrinking.  Their buying power is fading.  Their certainty about what they are about to do is waning.  Several things are changing because of these and other things, but one is that leverage is equalizing, meaning buyers don’t have to just open their bank accounts and pour them onto the table in order to compete.  I’m actually glad about that.  I serve both buyers and sellers, and I don’t like inequity in any form.  But while we achieve that fleeting balance we love, times are tough and deals are at risk for other reasons that what we ‘usually’ see.

So when you look at homes, know that the ground is shifting under your feet.  Sellers should stop expecting buyers to pour mounds of cash into the deal up front, and they should expect to negotiate.  No longer can sellers pick a high list price out of their wish list and expect to get it.  Prices are dropping; it’s a new day.  Buyers, please be careful about trying to buy every inch of your financial ability.  You may get near to closing day and find out you can no longer afford the home you want to buy.  Buyer agents, you have time to step back, cross your arms, and analyze the price of this home your buyers want to buy.  Do it carefully.  And Listing Agents, put on your work boots.  Pricing a home is as hard as it has ever been.

Buyers, before you shop, please get a handle on what you can expect for your price point.  In other words, be realistic.  And know that in these uncertain economic times, you should have well defined boundaries that will respect the times in which we currently live, and also keep you in the hunt.  If you put yourself too close to the edge, you could get pushed out overnight.

Homes are still selling; that’s the good news!  But the overpriced ones sit on the market a long time these days, and if they do go under contract, they may not appraise for that too- high list price.  I know, another element to consider.  Now, understand that if you have a pile of discretionary money, it doesn’t matter what the appraiser says.  Remember the LENDER is not going to lend more than the amount for which the home appraises.  Sometimes, only 90% of the appraised value is the loan amount, sometimes less.  If a buyer can make up the difference out of savings, great.  But appraised value has moved up in ranking as a strong pricing factor.  So be aware and plan accordingly.  

This one factor can lose the buyer their due diligence money, guys.  Remember if the buyer walks away, they lose their due diligence money.  This is one reason due diligence amounts are falling, as they should.  The market is too uncertain to put huge amounts of cash at risk.  Those days are over, thankfully.  Buyers and sellers don’t control the economy.  Be careful about list pricing and about offer prices.  And good news: You can negotiate again.  

Finally, watch the economic news.  It is the 900 pound gorilla.


This Season…

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Guys, I am a huge fan of letting our body do its job when we are ill.  Our body is a miraculous, amazing, self-healing creation if our immune system is well.  I don’t run to the doctor unless I have no choice…like a kidney stone.  But listen, this is flu season.  So being careful is not NOT trusting our body to do its job; it’s exercising intelligent caution.  

Every time I go in the grocery store, I wipe down the cart handle with a sanitizing wipe, and I sanitize my hands before and after going in the store.  I’m not masking at this time, but it may come to that…keeping in mind that the masks only keep our hands off of our face, nothing else.  But that’s huge!  This new strain of flu is BRUTAL.  I’ve had Covid twice, neither was as bad as this one.  So be careful!

When I attended UNC-W, I practically put OCTOBER FLU on my calendar, because it raced through the campus every single year in October.  And I ALWAYS got it.  People would NOT stay home when they were sick, and of course there were no ‘protocols’ at that time either, pre-Covid.  But remember there are other viruses besides Covid.  I had a flu virus several years ago, again, pre-Covid, that I thought I would not survive.  I remember falling asleep one of those days thinking I wouldn’t wake up.  It was that bad.  My sister has one like that now.  It’s killing me not to go stay with her; but she threatens me: I’m not allowed to come near her.  She’s wise and I am terribly worried.  And if I were to go take care of her, I would surely bring the virus home with me as well.  So yeah, isolation is best.

So please do this:  Put some hand sanitizer in your car console and use it every time you leave your car, and every time you get back in the car.  Keep your hands to yourself as much as you can; remember the viruses can live on ‘things’ for a period of time.  Imagine someone sneezing on everything and act accordingly. Above ALL, if you are SICK…STAY HOME FOR GOODNESS SAKE!!  What seemed manageable to your system might be fatal to someone else’s.  

I have a stash of cold/flu OTC treatments in my pantry, so if I get sick, I don’t have to go out or have someone shop for me.  I’m about as far from being a crybaby or drug seeker as you can get.  I don’t put synthetic drugs into my body, or any other kind of drug for that matter, unless I’m forced to…like kidney stone pain meds.  But this mess is serious.  Please take precautions and stay well.  Love yourself and others enough to take precautions.

Stop Saying “Crash”, Will You???

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We should all know by now that the media thrives on negativity.  I think the same is true of real estate news.  Here’s why.  Every time interest rates jump, we get the word “crash” shoved in our face.  What the media SHOULD be saying is that the market is CHANGING.

Let me say again that “Real Estate is Local!”  This means that your end of the subdivision may have a different valuation that the homes on the OTHER end.  It’s all about location.  Other factors come into play as well, like: Do you have a pig pen beside your house which will tank the value of your neighbors houses?  Or, is your house painted neon orange? That will kill your house value and that of the entire street!  But you get the idea.  Now back to the point.

Yes, interests rates are going up and yes all other prices have risen as well.  Yes, life is harder financially.   Yes, some buyers will be out of the market because of interest rates going up. But this is not a crash. It is this:

First, a section of buyers will be pushed out of the market unless lenders get creative.  Buyers won’t have huge sums of money to put into the purchase up front.  There are ways around that issue and the ‘requirement’ for large sums is already changing.  Already we are seeing 100% financing coming back into favor.  Eight months ago an offer with 100% financing would not have made it to consideration.  No way.  But now, yep, that type of financing is back, going back to normal; NOT crashing.

Second, if the first line of buyers falls out, then the second line steps up.  These will be buyers who still won’t have big sums of discretionary money but will be able to make the larger payments caused by higher rates.  This is a change in the buyer demographic, NOT a crash.

Price ranges of purchased homes will change.  Around here, there aren’t many homes with a 2 or 3 in the first number.  In fact, most often the first-time-buyer price starts with a 4.  They’re selling, but not to folks who don’t have some savings or excellent credit, or both.  In my area, median home price has gone UP.  This is NOT a crash; it is a change.

Next, parents stepping up to help kids buy a first home are stepping back.  Why? Because their investment/retirement nest egg has shrunk due to a falling stock market.  Does this take the kids out of the market?  Not necessarily, but it will surely change the buyers’ target price point.  Change, NOT crash.

Some home LIST PRICES are ‘reduced’.  I see that every day when I look at my market.  That’s because agents are used to pricing in a RISING market, which is one of the factors to price a home to sell.  The market isn’t rising, GENERALLY speaking, so prices can’t just be pushed up in the expectation that the value will rise by the time of offer.  A good agent knows that you look at many factors to price a home and you can’t just use the plug-and-chug market analysis online.  There are MANY factors to consider in pricing. Today, pricing is a real challenge in a market in what I call ‘flux’.  But expecting to price high is no longer a given.  That is a change, NOT a crash.

Next, more people will elect not to sell because…where are they going to go?  This is a huge factor in my market, but a good agent can find you a place.  A GOOD agent.  But this factor is also a change; it is NOT a crash.  And by the way, fewer sellers listing homes increases the dearth of homes to sell, making it harder for buyers to find a home.  These folks STILL need a place to live.  And, builders will benefit from ‘existing home sellers’ electing to sit tight.

And by the way,  a GOOD agent will help clients figure out how to stay put if that benefits the client, by helping them to decide on home improvements or hiring help for lawn care.  Particularly for what I lovingly call my ‘super seniors’, this is key.  I love my super seniors and THEIR wellbeing is of utmost importance to me.   That was a rabbit trail, folks.

Back on track:  Interest rates that fueled a blazing hot and in my opinion, unbalanced market, were NOT normal.  What we are seeing now is a return to normal.  It is unfortunate that the steep rise in loan payments keeps some people out of their ‘comfort zone’ with respect to living conditions, but this is still not a crash.  And if clients have to buy a less than ‘standard’ home for themselves, they can always bring the home up to their standards over time. Not a crash, folks.  A change.

I wish with all my heart that our so-called ‘news’ was actually true, but it is not. If you don’t know that by now, you’ve been living under a rock.  Take a deep breath, calm down and adjust your sails. That’s what we are ALL doing, in all areas of life, not just real estate.  And remember this:  A home you buy and bring up to better standards will be worth more when you sell.  A silver lining, folks.  

And can I just say this again?  PA-LEASE look at houses online that you think you would buy so you have a clue what the market in your destination looks like.  Don’t tell us agents that you want an acre, three stories, granite and stainless on a cup-de-sac for 180 thousand.  Please don’t.  That is a fairy tale.

I’m Brenda; I’m a GOOD agent an I would love to talk with you.  You can find me at Coldwell Banker Advantage in Wake Forest NC, online, or call me.  Or text.  Or email.  But you won’t find me on Facebook. That’s a hint.



A Word or Two about Homeowners’ Associations

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I’m a board member.  I hear so much negativity about our HOA that sometimes I have to just shut down and take a break from it.  Thing is, I work SO hard, as do the other members, to keep our lovely community looking good, property values going up, and our homes not falling down around our ears.  The ones who tend to complain the most viciously are the ones who never attend meetings and I suspect do not know the purpose of the association.  ALLOW ME to enlighten.

First and foremost, if you elect, nay CHOOSE to live in a community governed by covenants which are enforced by a board and management company, then you need to comply.  Period.  Once you join the community, you are bound by the covenants.  Oh yeah I said bound.  Yes, you can choose to ignore them, and pay the fines and fines and fines and/or foreclosure.  Cry all you want, but whip out the debit card while you do it.  

Because…the purpose of the HOA is to protect the property values of owners in that community and to maintain/improve the properties in most cases.  This is what the dues pay for.  Yeah, there’s a BUDGET to cover the stuff you benefit from.  In my community, the HOA is responsible for ground maintenance, roof repair and/or replacement, parking lot paving/improvement, enforcing violations (sending info to the management company), pressure washing, mulching, aerating lawns, getting engineering involved in drainage issues, cleaning gutters, repairing/replacing gutters, painting exteriors…you get the idea.  So when someone decides to build a pig pen next door to your patio…yeah, you’ll appreciate the HOA then.

People put trash in the parking lots, blocking resident’s access, they build structures that are either eyesores or dangerous or both, they put air conditioner window units in the front windows, they pile full trash bags in the front lawns, they let their pets poop in YOUR yard or they don’t pick up after them, they bring their friends to park in your spaces…in other words a complete disregard for the condition of the property and for the other residents who live there.

So yeah, I get the calls and emails.  I UNDERSTAND.  I’m an owner and I want my property and space to be respected, and I want my property value to keep going up.  If we turn our communities into apartment complexes, well there goes the value and there goes the need to keep the properties maintained and in a good state of repair.  If you are a renter?  Gotta follow the rules or your landlord gets fined.  And then you…well good luck sticking around is all I’m saying.

Yes, the management companies send out letters to inform owners of upcoming events (like termite inspection for example)…that’s OWNERS not renters.  Then owners don’t inform their tenants.  Then the owner gets charged for the followup visit.  Look, your ‘unit’ has to be termite free for the sake of your neighbors too.  You cannot just relinquish your responsibility as an owner because OTHER PEOPLE are affected.  But…letters go out, nobody reads them.  Covenants are available online.  Nobody reads them.  SO the management company sends out a letter to ‘inform’, at which time the owner or renter says, “I’m going to to what I want to do.”  That’s AFTER they move into a community with covenants.  So the next step is a warning, and then the fines start.  These fines can be issued ‘per day’ and might be 100 bucks each day.  

BY THE WAY, the nay sayers often do not pay their dues either, so when they DON’T all of the OTHER residents are paying for THEIR grass to be mowed their porch to be painted their siding to be pressure washed…you get it.  So if non-payment goes on, the overall budget is affected so MAYBE dues have to go UP for EVERYBODY.  Can you see how this works?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if you hate your HOA it’s because you don’t follow the rules.  It’s so easy.  Just do what the covenants say.  If you don’t LIKE it, here’s a good one: ATTEND THE MEETINGS.  None of the complainers ever do, by the way.  If something doesn’t make sense, it can be changed!  But ya gotta show UP.

Now, if there’s a board member out there with a ruler measuring the height of your grass, that’s overstepping, in my opinion.  And if a board member throws a wad of landscaping mulch in your face, well that’s DEFINITELY overstepping.  Having said that, if you want to live in a nice community, join one with not just an HOA but also an HOA management company.  That way, the HOA also has oversight and the little Hitlers can be put back in their cages.

HOA board members work very hard for ZERO PAY.  It’s volunteer!  We’re making sure that tree doesn’t grow into your house, or you back yard doesn’t become a river when it rains!  FREE!  We work for nothing.  AND BY THE WAY…don’t say we don’t DO anything.  We do a LOT.  And some of it involves lining up contractors to give quotes, getting on their schedule, it takes TIME.  So calm down.  If you have a question how about this?  Call a board member and find out what’s in the pipeline.  Since you didn’t go to the meeting, that is.  We are regular folks with jobs and homes to maintain and things going on too.  Just call us!  BEFORE you go online griping about something that’s actually in the works.

Overall, HOA’s serve a good purpose if you’re an owner.  They make your check when you sell your house a lot bigger.  If you don’t like HOA’s, move.  It’s that simple.  And hope you don’t have a pig pen installed next to your bedroom window (it has happened).  Otherwise, pay your freaking dues and follow the rules. If you don’t, you have NO right to complain.

I’ve learned, in my service on the HOA board, that grown bodies do not always contain grown people inside.  Anybody missing a two or three year old?

Let’s Talk about “Science”

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First let me say that the only reason I didn’t put up a photo of a Zeiss Microscope was because there wasn’t a free photo available.  I had to settle for second best and I’m not happy about that.

Now, let’s talk about science.  I’m hearing the word science used as a hammer to whack anyone with a different opinion or perspective, or even a question.  This is because power hungry, greedy politicians have hijacked the essence of it and gotten rich and more powerful as a result.  This is worse than anyone has been willing to acknowledge.

Science is the pursuit of TRUTH.  And by the way an important aspect of science is debate.   Listen, just because you’re a scientist, or stand near one, does NOT mean everything you say, or ANYTHING you say is correct or true.  Read about development of the polio vaccine, about how many people were killed (mostly in Africa, by the way) in the race to be the FIRST to get it done.  And then the ‘safe’ vaccine was administered first to hospital staff and doctors and some of the wealthy (politicians included, no doubt)…many of whom DIED.  They did NOT get it right at first, and it took years to prove the vaccine both safe and effective.  But it was rushed against WARNINGS of other scientists who said, “This is not ready!”

The Covid vaccines were rushed to the masses, and you can say or not say they worked; I don’t care.  MY POINT is science.  This vaccine was pushed on the population by threat, power, greed, and in the name of SCIENCE.  Fauci was the loudest voice saying, “But science!”, while doing his level best to avoid debating, to listening to questions, to opposing views…to the essential debate.  In other words, the antithesis of science.  In true science, you don’t get to shout down the debate and declare YOUR opinion the law, unless you have more power or more money than the other people in white coats.  God help us if an idiot with lots of wealth and power gets in one of the coats.  Wait.  Too late.

First, do some WORK.  Look at the size of the virus and then LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THE OPENINGS IN MASK WEAVE.  The ONLY way masks worked was keeping us from touching our faces with infected hands.  That WAS a good idea.  But the people in POWER get to make the rules.  When the rules involve forcing experimental, synthetic drugs into MY body?  Try it.  I’ve been vaccinated in my life.  But not with experimental ones, or ones rushed through a lab.  I worked in labs for over 20 years.  And I did a lot of debating, too.  In the name of SCIENCE.  And it was a debate, not hate, not politics.  It was the pursuit of the truth, and we worked until we found it.

Listen to me: SOMEBODY had to graduate at the bottom of the class.  Not everyone wearing a white lab coat should be in that lab or ANYWHERE near it.  I’ve worked beside people I wouldn’t leave alone with a heating pad!  As long as the companies making drugs are buying government, you had better stop using the word science.  Just say, “Shut up and take this drug so I can get rich.”  Because that’s what it amounts to.  And if you cannot see this, then please, take that pill.  Open your mouth like a little baby bird waiting for mama bird to vomit in his mouth.  

There is NOTHING wrong with scientific debate.  When someone tells you “people are against science” just because they disagree, then they don’t know what the freaking concept is about.  You should be GLAD people question wealthy, powerful people pushing a drug that makes them wealthy.   Why?  Because the BEST science comes in the wake of healthy debate, where EVERY stone is overturned and examined.  Preferably with a Zeiss microscope, or better yet an electron microscope.  If your “science leader” is afraid to turn over few stones, that’s a liar, a cheater, a bully, or just plain stupid.

And if that’s okay with you, please run to be first in line for that synthetic, unproven drug.  I beg you.

Have You Hugged Your Lender Lately??

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Most lenders don’t bite.  At least none of MY lenders.  Point is, these are people to whom you should definitely have a conversation if you are in the real estate world.   Listen, things are changing in the real estate world (can you say interest rates?), and lenders change their programs to align with current conditions.

I always, ALWAYS, encourage my clients to talk to their lender FIRST.  Why?  Because you don’t really know what you can afford, for one thing.  Second, you don’t really know your credit score, most likely, because the ‘deep dive’ is what the lenders do and they find EVERYTHING.

Point is, there are some new programs out there that might get you enthusiastic again, out of the disappointment status you started feeling when rates went up.  Adjustable rate loans are back and don’t wrinkle your nose:  My first mortgage was adjustable rate, and I could refinance any time after year one.  Which I did.  One hundred percent financing is also back ‘in vogue’, meaning that the pendulum swing is enabling buyers to have a bit of leverage again (Thank goodness).  And USDA limits are different now; the household income is higher, which helps.  There’s a new ‘self employed’ loan out there, which helps those of us who itemize and claim deductions.  The deductions lower your ‘income’ according to the algorithm.   Now, we self employed folks can now get a mortgage based on our actual income, rather than what the tax form says.  It’s not a no-doc loan, but it uses tax returns. That’s all I know; consult your lender.

Thing is, there are OPTIONS, and you should explore them.  And different lenders have different products, so do some homework.  Tell them what you want to do and let them tell you what program they have that will help you achieve that dream.  I tell my clients not to be intimidated by lenders.  They are making money by having you as a client, so act like it.  Be as important to them as you actually are, and find out what THEY can do for YOU. 

Online is NOT the best way, by the way.  There, you are a number.  In person lenders get to know you and how you operate, and they know your NAME.  You can meet and talk about where you ARE, where you are GOING, and what you DREAM.  Look a lender in the eye.  Find one who has some battle scars, too.  They know the lay of the land, and are very good at digging out that perfect product for you.

Establish a relationship with a good lender, because they are important to have in your sphere of influence when things change in your life.  Plus, most of them are really nice folks.  I’ve met some who are not, so be careful, be sure they are telling you the truth, and comparison shop.

Don’t be intimidated.  They are people too.

And finally, you STILL have to prove you are able to buy before you make an offer.  So just go, get that letter, know your options.  After you talk to a lender, you will know how much house you can afford, thus avoiding looking at homes that are too small (maybe you can go larger), or looking at ones that are more than you can buy.  Once you see them, others may seem disappointing.  

I’m not a lender but I have some great lender contacts.  I’m Brenda, a Coldwell Banker Advantage real estate agent and Realtor.  Let me know if I can help.