Monday, December 28, 2009

Gone With the Wind

I love this movie! I've always loved it, not just because it depicts the strength of the Old South after the Civil War, but also because of the special effects of that time.

Yesterday, my friend, Fran, and I got to see Gone With the Wind for it's 70th anniversary. It's hard to believe that this incredible flick was released back in 1939 - long before I was even thought of. But it was and to many, it's considered the greatest movie ever made.

The last time I saw the movie was in Richmond, Virginia, 20 years ago. It was the 50th anniversary and Stephanie and I, like the other hundreds of people there, dressed in period regalia and got to feast on local delicacies during the intermission. Several of our friends went with us, and we made it a great party.

One of the most famous movies of all time, GWTW had it's share of notables. Of course, most notable were actors Clark Gable, Olivia DeHaviland, and Leslie Howard. Hattie McDaniel, the actor who played Mammie, accepted any role to further the advance of her race, and said so. Another notable was Susan Myrick from Atlanta. Not an actor, but a dialect expert. She was hired by producer David O. Selznick to coach actors in their southern accent. For Selznick, everything had to be perfect, even down to the hoops under skirts. When Ann Rutherford asked Selznick why having the hoops mattered when no one in the audience would know, his explanation was, "Because you'll know." For him, that was enough.

New to the American movie scene was Vivian Leigh. Cast at the last moment, according to legend, Vivian was "suddenly discovered" when she appeared as a companion to Laurence Olivier during the filming of the burning of Atlanta. Of course, sensationalized legends were just as effective in marketing then as they are today. The truth was that an unknown would be cast and that Selznick wanted the publicity to create a huge buzz in America. Regardless of how Vivian was selected, she was the best choice. Years of critics - both professional and novice - have attested to that.

Needless to say, my head is filled with trivia about this great film. How the movie was made fascinates me even today.

While the last screening was last night, you can still get the DVD or blu-ray at local places around town or from a retailer online. It's a great time to watch an incredible classic.

Enjoy ..............

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The True Spirit of Christmas

If you haven't taken your children to see Santa Claus yet, there's still time! In spite of economic downturns, job losses and a host of other challenges in our world today, Santa is still the beacon that all is right in the world at Christmas time.

When I was a child, I couldn't understand why we'd see Santa at so many places. My little mind thought that Santa was able to jump from department store to department store, and that he did it just in time for me to see him there. It wasn't until later that my mother, in her hopes of extending my make-believe world, told me that Santa has "helpers" to help him talk with all the kids because he was busy making the toys at the North Pole.

Sometimes today, I wonder if I know the "real" Santa. If not, he's mighty close. Last year, I met Santa Dick at Green Hills Mall working a seasonal job at the mall, and there we became friends.

Over the last year, I've had the opportunity to get to know Santa Dick. He epitomizes what Christmas is all about. Adults and children alike love this wonderful Santa because he genuinely cares about the children (and, yes, adults) that he meets.

Santa Dick recently told me about a little girl he met who understood the real meaning of Christmas. "I just want some balloons for Christmas," she answered when Santa Dick asked her what she wanted. When asked why she just wanted balloons, she told Santa Dick, "So other children who don't have toys can have my toys." Needless to say, by the end of that story, I choked up. That little girl, at her young age, understands Christmas!

How many of us really understand the true meaning of Christmas? I wonder how our economic recession has affected what we give this year. Maybe it's not as much or as expensive as we've given in the past. And that's good. It's time for us to slow down and just love and care about each other.

Do you know what the first gift of Christmas was? It was a baby, lying in a manger, who was born to take away the sins of the world. That unconditional gift is for every single person who ever lived before then, during that time, and since that time. It's for you and for me. Santa Dick would echo these same sentiments.

There's time to go see Santa ... and there's time for us to understand the real meaning of Christmas.

Merry, merry Christmas to all of you! May you be exceptionally blessed this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Polar Express and Camp Hope

I can't say it enough. Kids who have suffered injuries from burns need you!

Every summer, Vanderbilt University Medical Center sponsors Camp Hope, a cost-free camp for these wonderful kids. After being teased and taunted at school and in their communities because of their scars, these children have the annual opportunity to have a stress-free camp opportunity with others their age who have also suffered from burn injuries.

This Thursday, December 3, at 7 p.m., my office is sponsoring a special screening of "The Polar Express" at The Belcourt Theater in Nashville. Tickets are $20/person, age 18 and up, and $15/person, under age 18. Ticket prices include dinner provided by McDougal's, Subway and Gigi's Cupcakes. Of course, popcorn and soft drinks will be provided, too.

Dinner and a silent art auction begin when the doors open at 6 p.m. Professional paintings, paintings done by the camp kids and some high quality amateur artwork will be for sale. You may see a few Titans tickets for auction there, too, so make sure you're there early enough to see what's there.

Proceeds will go to Camp Hope (via the United Way). To purchase tickets online, go to The Belcourt Theater Link. Don't miss out!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

The sun just came up and it's completely quiet and still all over the house. The peace and solitude are welcome this morning. Not long from now, my four year old niece, Caroline, will lead two other generations in laughter, active play, and loads of fun.

This Thanksgiving is special. For the first time in a very long time, my sister and her family spent the night with us here at our parent's home in Williamsburg, Virginia. What a treat for all of us.

Today we'll watch part of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, trim some shrubs, put up a new light fixture, walk the dogs, play with Caroline, enjoy an incredible meal, and watch a little football. When we sit down to eat, we'll express our gratitude for the many blessings we've received.

I am blessed to have two wonderful children. Annie and Hunter are growing up quickly. Soon they'll be out of the house and on with their own adult lives. I have always told them that if I had to pick out kids at the "Kid Grocery Store", I'd pick them out EVERY SINGLE TIME! Yes, they're my pride and joy.

Other blessings? Great clients and wonderful friends. An incredible and very supportive family. The time I've been able to spend with my parents this year. The opportunity to make a move to a new location (Franklin). A wonderful broker and friend at the office. A church that I love going to. The opportunity to help with Camp Hope, the camp for kids injured by burns. A great bible study group. Living in the United States, despite our challenges and problems. And so many more.

Today is the day we set aside to express our gratitude to the Creator who gives us so much. If we really think about it, we're blessed beyond our wildest dreams and imaginations.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tips for Buyers Working with an Agent

It's easy to write about how to interview a real estate agent and what the agent should do for the client. But how many articles has anyone written about what the buyer should do when working an agent? Few, if any, is my guess.

After working through some challenging situations this year, I decided that I should address how buyer clients should behave with agents. All too often, clients have exceptionally high expectations of agents, but then continue to be uncooperative, and come to the offer process and the closing table with an attitude of entitlement.

In all of my real estate transactions, most of the listing agents have been very good to work with. The goal, after all, is to produce a win-win situation for all parties involved.

Unfortunately, not all buyers are great to work with. Some drag their feet and others don't listen, and then blame their agents, their loan officer and/or the closing attorney for the situation not working out exactly as planned. Here are some tips for buyers:

1 - SELECT an agent who has a Home Buyer's Assistance Plan, who is organized, and who has a proven track record. Once you make the selection, FOLLOW the agent's lead.

2 - LISTEN to the agent at every step of the process you are going through when placing an offer on a home. If you have questions or something is unclear, then ask those up front. Don't wait until something happens and get upset.

3 - FOLLOW the timeline that your agent lays out for you regarding inspections, getting paperwork to the lender, etc. GET APPROVED FIRST if your agent asks you to do that. Dragging your feet only makes everyone frustrated.

4 - STAY POSITIVE during the process. Complaining/griping about everything when your agent is trying to help you makes it uncomfortable and frustrating for everyone.

5 - QUESTION the agent if you feel you're not getting the service outlined for you.

6 - Be GRATEFUL. Several times I've heard about buyers getting to the closing table only to be angry, out of control, and upset, only to blame everyone else for the mistakes they made during the process when they did not listen or follow the agent's and/or loan officer's advice.

7 - Be OPEN MINDED and learn something from your agent and the professions he/she has referred you to. No one has all the answers, but real estate, mortgage, and legal professionals are the ones trained to service you well.

8 - Be FLEXIBLE. Sometimes things happen beyond anyone's control. Those things cannot be helped. This includes any additional transfer fees that an HOA may impose, a last-minute final walk-through, etc.

9 - STAY CALM during the closing process and DO NOT ATTACK or ACCUSE. The professionals at the closing table are there to help you, not lie to you or harm you.

10 - UNDERSTAND that all real estate transactions should be win-win for everyone. In real estate it is NEVER a time to steam-roll over anyone. That won't work in the end.

All of us have heard the phrase, "What goes around comes around" and most of us probably know people who have been "paid back" for their unscrupulous or ill-mannered, entitled behavior. No one really wants to be that type of person.

Remember, the agent, loan officer and title attorney are there to HELP you. Give them the opportunity to do that.

To work with an agent who insists on using a Home Buyer's Assistance Plan, give me a shout. Using that plan makes home buying simpler, stress-free, and pleasant and exciting.

Home Buyer Tax Credit - Extension and Expansion Pass both Houses

Well, folks, we've seen it come to pass. On Friday, the first-time home buyer tax credit was extended and Congress has also expanded it to include certain current homeowners.

Here are the particulars:

1 - First-time home buyers will continue at $8000 tax credit. First-time home buyers are those who have never owned a home or have not owned one in the last three years.

2 - New tax credit of $6500 for "move-up" home buyers. Move-up home buyers are those who have owned a principal residence home for at least five consecutive years out of the last eight.

3 - Increase in income limits to $125,000 for single tax filers and $225,000 for joint tax filers.

4 - Limit on eligible homes has increased to $800,000.

5 - New time frame - a house has to be UNDER CONTRACT prior to April 30, 2010, but has to CLOSE no later than June 30, 2010.

6 - Anti-fraud measures were added to the bill.

It is expected that President Obama will sign the bill within the next few days.

Please give me a call to learn more about this exciting opportunity for you as a home buyer!
To work with a knowledgeable and experienced agent who knows the business and world of real estate, please give me a shout. You can reach me at 615-373-3513 x 3840 or through email: I'd love to help you with all of your real estate needs.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Those Hilarious Church Bulletin Bloopers

Love those Church Ladies. They're back! Those wonderful church bulletins! Thank goodness for church ladies with typewriters. These sentences (all with bloopers) actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services.

Laugh, cry or just shake your head. Here we go .....

The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.

The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on Water". Sermon tonight: "Searching for Jesus".

Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.

Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say "Hell" to someone who doesn't care much about you.

Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.

Miss Charlene Mason sang, "I will not pass this way again," giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.

Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.

At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What is Hell?" Come early and listen to the choir practice.

Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.

Potluck Supper Sunday at 5:00 p.m. - prayer and medication to follow.

The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.

This evening at 7 p.m. there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

Ladies' Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 a.m. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S. is done.

The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.

Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. Please use the back door.

Weight Watchers will meet at 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

These make me laugh. If you have others, I'd love to hear those.

If you'd like to work with a real estate agent who enjoys life and people, and who will make your selling and/or buying experience a relaxed, but professional one, then give me a shout. I'd love to help you with all of your real estate needs.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tips for a Smooth Move

Moving is on the 'Top 20 Most Stressful Things in Life' list. It's no surprise because it means uprooting from a place of familiarity to a new place. Even local moves can cause some stress, so it's important to make it as smooth and as easy as possible.

The person who taught me how to move was my former wife, Stephanie. We'd been married three years when we moved from Richmond to Chicago for grad school. She nudged me to de-clutter, but I was only willing to give up just so many things. After that move, I was more than anxious to de-clutter prior to every other move.

Having moved 15 times over the last 21 years, there are some things I learned from those experiences. The last move, this past Friday, was the smoothest because it was the most organized.

Here are some tips to help you make that (long distance or local move):

1 - Sort through every closet, every room, the toy chest, piano benches, and all drawers and cabinets, and the garage, dividing all items into three piles: (1) KEEP; (2) THROW AWAY; (3) SELL or GIVE AWAY.

2 - Have a YARD/GARAGE SALE or donate to a local charity such as your church or Goodwill at least one week before you move. (This would be your SELL or GIVE AWAY pile.) In Nashville, spring yard sales are typically better than other times of the year, but yard sales are possible year 'round depending on your culture and environment. (Check out my previous article on successful yard sales entitled Yard Sale Extravaganza.) Throw away the 'throw away' pile and don't look back.

3 - Call moving companies for estimates as early as possible. Get estimates on PACKING and MOVING if need someone to pack your things. Packing and moving are different tasks and movers price accordingly.

4 - If you are packing your own belongings, begin packing about a week before your move. Pack some every day and save the most essential things for last. Make sure to ask your mover if they require all drawers to be emptied before the move. Some companies require emptying; others don't.

5 - You'll need appropriate sized boxes, so a visit to a storage facility will give you a better idea of what types/sizes of boxes are suitable for your things. Pack china in dish pack boxes, books in book boxes, hanging clothing in hanging wardrobe boxes, etc. You'll also need packing paper and bubble wrap. Check those, too.

6 - Call Crye-Leike Home Services to set up your utilities connections and disconnects. Crye-Leike has a special relationship with Comcast (the only real estate company in Middle Tennessee that has this relationship). Through Crye-Leike Home Services, the rep will set up your Comcast connection at no cost and you will also receive (1) the current promotional rate for 12 months, and (2) a significant rebate on VISA gift cards. For more information on Crye-Leike Home Services, CLICK HERE.

7 - If you're moving locally, make plans for your refrigerated and frozen foods. While most foods will stay refrigerated or frozen, some foods will not. If you're moving long distance, you'll want to eliminate all of your refrigerated and frozen foods.

8 - Pack a "First Night Box" for each bedroom and for the kitchen. In bedroom boxes, pack sheets/linens, toiletries, soap for washing hands, towels. shower curtain and rod, and toilet paper. For the kitchen box, pack disposable plates, utensils and cups. You may want to include your toaster or microwave, dry foods such as protein bars, nuts, breads, toaster pastries, etc.

9 - If you've packed yourself and are paying for movers by the hour, move every box into one or two room that are easily accessible to where the moving truck will be parked for loading. Doing this will save the movers time and you money. When they arrive, they can size up what has to be loaded.

10 - Relax with a cup of coffee while the movers are loading.

11 - Leave the house CLEAN. Use an odor eliminator on the carpet prior to vacuuming. Make sure the tubs, sinks and showers are free of soap scum and mildew. Rooms should smell very fresh. If leaving your refrigerator behind, leave it spotless. Mop all tile and vinyl floors and clean hardwoods well. Leave appliances manuals, keys and garage remotes in a kitchen drawer.

12 - Arrive at your new home.

13 - Make beds then start settling the house room by room. Start with the kitchen, then go to bedrooms, then living areas, and end with the garage.

14 - Clean up and relax.

Moving is stressful, but by being organized, it will be less stressful for everyone. With new surroundings, new neighbors, and new places be familiar with, moving can be an exciting time. No need for a stressful move.

For all of your real estate needs, give me a shout. I can provide you with Home Service Providers to get your home ready to sell and to help you get your new home ready to occupy.

Friday, October 30, 2009

You're in Luck with Two Men and a Truck!

After 15 moves, I needed a reliable moving company to get my things loaded and unloaded quickly and safely. Several clients had used Two Men and a Truck, and with all their rave reviews, I decided to give them a try. Thanks to James and John, with Two Men and a Truck, it was a successful and pleasant experience.

Scheduled to arrive around 8 this morning, my only disappointment was their late arrival after 8:30. Later on I found out that their longer-than-usual staff meeting was the reason for the delay.

John and James didn't waste any time getting started. Idle chit-chat, cigarette breaks, and casual dilly-dallying were never part of the time I paid for. These guys hustled - and I mean HUSTLED!. An hour later, they had loaded everything and were ready to go.

Watching them unload and place everything is still mesmerizing. By noon, they were ready to leave my new home. Everything was in it's place and it had arrived safely.

If you're looking for a great company to move you, look no further than Two Men and a Truck. To book, call Katie at 615-248-6288 x201. She can book your move and give you an estimate of how much time it'll take. Mention the discount coupon and she'll send you one in the mail. Also when you call, ask for James and John to move you. They're the best!

If you're looking for a real estate agent who knows the entire business of making a move, give me a call. I'd love to help you with all of your real estate needs.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ice House

In the 1950s, Detroit was a thriving city of 1.8 million. Today, having experienced a mass exodus of jobs, the people went elsewhere and the city, a declining metropolis, is now at half of it's highest population.

Sad, but true, Detroit is also saddled with one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. House after house sits empty and a group called Object Orange is painting the vacant houses orange to draw attention to the city's blight and decay.

An artist and an architect plan on turning a house into a piece of art - the subject of photographs - to draw attention to the significant distress the city is in.

This project could have been done in another city, but it would not have had the significance that it does in Detroit. Check out the story by CLICKING HERE. There's a link to the artist's blog at the bottom of the article. You may find that as interesting.

I can help you find a foreclosure or short sale to buy, or if you're currently in dire straights with your home, give me a shout. I'm here to help.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Has Your Agent Checked Thoroughly?

When a real estate agent represents a client, he does so through the very end of the transaction. Part of that representation is to make sure that ALL of the numbers on the HUD-1 Settlement Statement (the document that shows what is being received and paid out by the seller and buyer) are accurate.

Six weeks ago, I sold a listing where the contract stated, "Seller to pay $3500 toward buyer's closings costs, prepaids and points." The lender only charged $2900 to close the buyer's loan for this transaction, but when I received my copy of the HUD-1 to review, an "additional" $495 was charged to the seller. The charge? A home warranty.

While a home warranty is usually covered by a seller to benefit the buyer, this buyer specifically WAIVED a home warranty. So why was the additional charge on the statement? When I called the seller's title company and protested the charge, it was removed. Apparently the buyer's title company "wanted to try it to see if the seller would pay it." That is an actual quote from their representative.

Just recently one of my sellers asked why it was important for there to be a "split" closing, utilizing two title companies. This is the very reason why. In the real world, title companies are technically and legally supposed to be NEUTRAL parties to the transactions. However, in recent years, title companies have taken on the role of "representative" of either the buyer or seller. In this situation, the buyer's title company SHOULD have actually told the buyer, 'no' to the request to charge the seller for the warranty. After all, the warranty was not agreed to by either party.

Representation took on it's current state several years ago when foreclosing banks started contracting with title companies to handle their sale transactions. By contracting with them, they received a reduced rate in their fees in exchange for giving the title company all of their business. Unfortunately, this 'representation' mentality has seeped into mainstream title companies as well because buyers and sellers would have battles at the closing table. Voila - split closings.

If you are buying and/or selling a home, make sure you ask your real estate agent to review the HUD-1 Settlement Statement very closely. A good agent will pull the contract out while reviewing it to make sure everything is followed precisely.
Looking for a qualified agent to help you buy or sell your home? Give me a shout. You can reach me by email ( or by phone (615-373-3513 - office). I'd love to help you with all of your real estate needs.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dealing With an Offer

Unless it's a very strong seller's market, sellers should be careful when responding to an offer on their house. Some sellers still think they can dictate what they'll take for their home, using the "take it or leave it" approach.

This is not the time to use that strategy. Unfortunately, many buyers are 'low-balling' the house in their offers and want everything in the world with the house - refrigerator, washer, dryer, etc. And they also want a seller-paid home warranty, seller-paid closing costs and sometimes more.

A house that needs significant repairs and/or updating will never command it's highest potential price. However, a house that is in pristine condition will always command top dollar. You may wait a little longer for an offer, but any house that is priced "right" will sell within a very reasonable period of time.

If the house is in great condition, and is priced within the parameters of area comparables, then the seller should stick to his/her guns on price, terms and conditions. However, to respond back at full list price, paying no closing costs, not furnishing a home warranty - the major things buyers want to negotiate - will mean buyers will probably walk away from the potential deal.

If the house is in poor condition, concessions should be made at the listing time for those items. If not, then an offer will probably not be realized.

When responding to an offer, sellers should be willing to work with whatever has been submitted. Just because an offer is lower does not mean that the buyer expects to walk away paying that price. Sometimes the buyer may submit a lower offer to see what the seller will actually be willing to do.

Real estate transactions have to be "win-win" for everyone. A good real estate agent can help a seller negotiate the contract out to become a winning situation for everyone. Giving a little on end will cause the buyer to give a little. If the buyer is unwilling to give anything at all in the negotiations, then the buyer is not a serious buyer. A seller who has the same mentality is also not a serious seller.

Let's say that house is priced at $210,000. The buyer offers the following: $195,000 sale price, asks the seller to pay up to $6000 toward buyer's closing costs, asks the seller to pay a home warranty, asks the seller to pay for the termite letter but the buyer will pick the termite company, and the closing will be in 45 days. In this example, the seller really needs a higher sale price, thinks the closing costs are too high, doesn't have a problem with paying for the warranty, and really wants to close in 21 days. How should the seller respond?

If a seller wants a higher price, then he/she can pay more buyer's closing costs and/or agree to a longer closing time. If closing quicker is more important to the seller, then the seller can agree to a lower sale price. The seller would not necessarily have to accept the $195,000 as a sale price, but could possibly agree to $202,000. The seller could also counter back with $4000 in closing.

In any offer situation, the seller needs to weigh things very cautiously in the current Middle Tennessee market. With the $8,000 tax credit coming to an end, the seller needs to understand that first time buyers in the $200,000 price range may actually disappear from the radar. If the seller will not negotiate a win-win situation, there may not be another offer for a long time and they may not see a reasonable price for a while, either.

General rule of thumb: The first offer is the best offer.
If you're looking for a real estate agent who knows and understand the current real estate market in the Nashville area, give me a call. I'd love to help you with all of your real estate needs.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Yard Sale Extravaganza

In the northeast, they're called tag sales. Down here, they're either yard sales or garage sales. In any case, these are sales where the sellers try to sell used and/or new items at substantially discounted prices. Yard sale sellers desperately want to get ride of their unwanted/unneeded items and yard sale buyers are looking for a great deal on new treasures.

Ever done a yard sale? If not, you need to do at least one. A few years back, we did two of them. The year was 1995 and we made about $300. The next year we made about $800. We thought we had struck gold.

At our yard sales, I had the time of my life. I LOVED negotiating prices with the buyers. Sealing the deal was like being in heaven.

Some tips for a successful yard sale:
1 - Write a creative ad for print and online venues. Intrigue people to come. Include start and end times, address, and directions.

2 - Make directional and yard signs bright and prominent. Better to put up too many than not enough. If you can't be found, you can't sell. (Check with your local county or town for sign restrictions.)

3 - Have plenty of people on hand. One person needs to man the cash box; the others need to sell and negotiate with buyers.

4 - Price items to sell. Even in Brentwood, Franklin, West Meade, and Green Hills, people are looking for a bargain. A few sellers price things too high. That's a sure sign they don't really want to part with their items.

5 - Be flexible in negotiations. Win-win is the key for successful sales.

6 - Establish a time and place with a clear start time and end time.

7 - Open early. Have your items ready to go at least an hour before your published start time for the early birds. Early birds are the serious garage/yard salers. Be open early because they will be your best buyers.

8 - Everything should be CLEAN and organized by type of item. For example, all clothing should be sorted by Men's, Women's, Boy's, Girl's, etc. Stack dishes together. Christmas ornaments and decorations should be together. Tools should be in the same location. If it's junky, then throw it away.

9 - Be organized. When negotiating, carry a pen and a pad of paper with you. Write the TOTAL number of items and the TOTAL SALE PRICE on a sheet of paper and sign it so the cashier knows that this is the price you're willing to sell the items for.

10 - Gauge the sale. When you're down to the last 60 to 90 minutes, check the traffic out. You may slash prices at that point to get the last items sold. Consider selling everything in a "lot" or discount prices to 50%. The less you have to keep, the better.

11 - Arrange for Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or some other charity lined up to pick up your left overs within two hours after the sale ends.

12 - Have fun!

Isn't it time for you to go clean out that garage, your closets, your house?! There's no better time for a yard sale than right now.

To work with an agent who understands how to get your home ready to sell, give me a call. I'm more than happy to help you get the price, terms and conditions that are acceptable to you in the sale of your home. And I can also give you a hand in getting that yard sale going.

Oh, and I'm having a yard sale this Saturday (10/24). Look for my ad on Craigslist and on Facebook this coming Friday.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sweet Tomato Barbecue Burgers

I mentioned on my Facebook page that I enjoyed Sweet Tomato Barbecue Burgers last night for dinner. Several friends asked for the recipe. So .... here it is ...

4 (8-ounce) fresh ready-to-cook stuffed burger patties
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil (drained)
1/2 cup ranch salad dressing
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
4 hamburger buns
4 slices American cheese


1. Preheat grill. Place burgers on grill (wash hands); close lid (or cover loosely with foil). Grill 3–5 minutes on each side or until internal temperature reaches 160°F (for medium). Use a meat thermometer to accurately ensure doneness. (Grills vary widely; adjust time as needed.)
Note: Burgers may be cooked in grill pan preheated on medium-high. Lightly coat pan with canola oil. Cook time will be about the same.

2. While burgers cook, place tomatoes, ranch dressing, and barbecue sauce in food processor (or blender). Process 1 minute or until smooth. Spread tomato mixture on top halves of buns.

3. Top each burger with 1 slice of cheese; then place burgers on buns. Serve.

My notes:

(1) This recipe calls for a pre-made burger from Publix Supermarkets. If you do not have a Publix in your area, you can make the burgers yourself. You'll need ground chuck, well-done cooked bacon, and mild cheddar cheese. Mix the bacon and cheese in with the ground beef. Since there is no specific proportions for these burgers, you'll have to just experiment with what satisfies your taste. A word of warning: don't add too much bacon and cheese to the burgers. Adding too much will cause them to fall apart while grilling.

(2) I use store brand Lite ranch dressing and store brand original barbecue sauce.

(3) I prefer sliced cheddar cheese on my burgers, an alternative to American cheese that this recipe calls for.

For the full menu including dessert, utensils you need, and a full shopping list, CLICK HERE.

To work with a real estate agent who enjoys life and people, give me a call. I'm here to give you a hand with all of your real estate needs.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Home Sales and Mortgage Rates

Well, the numbers are in and it's good news and bad news. The good news is that home sales were up in August of this year from July of this year. The bad news is that sale were down in August of this year compared to August of last year. Other good news: that decline from 2008 to 2009 is only 9.2%, unlike the 22-30% drops we've seen in past months.

My listings have received a lot of showings over the last two weeks, good news for sellers. There are also lots of houses out there on the market that need to be sold. Those houses selling are the ones that are the best value - great condition and location for the best price.

And for people who want to refinance or buy a home, the good news is that rates remain around 5%. A loan officer friend of mine and I had lunch last week and he mentioned that he strongly believes that rates will be around the 6% mark in about four to six months from now. While there's no absolute guarantee, you may want to consider talking with your mortgage loan officer so you can make a move to either buy or refinance.

The Nashville Business Journal has both of these articles online. For information about home sales in the area, just CLICK HERE. And for more information about mortage rates, CLICK THIS LINK.

If you're looking for an agent who has a handle on the current market conditions in the Middle Tennessee area, look no further. I'd love to give you a hand with your real estate needs.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Want to Live in a LEGO House?

Almost unbelievable, I ran across this article today about a toy fanatic, James May, who built an entire house out of LEGOs. It took 3.3 million LEGO bricks, or a total of over 816 million LEGO pieces. It also has a working bathroom. Sound interesting? Take a quick peek at the pics and articles about it online.

Check out these links:

I'm not sure about you, but as much as I loved to play with LEGOs as a kid, I'm not sure I'd want to live in a LEGO house, as interesting as it is.

If you're looking for a real estate professional who knows his business well and works hard to represent buyers and sellers, then give me a shout. You can reach me by phone or by email. I'm happy to help you with your real estate needs.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

All Around Tough Day

Ever had one of those tough days? You know what I'm talking about. It's days like today when nothing seems to goes right.

Oversleeping this morning, driving 90 minutes out of my way to pick up paperwork, arriving to work late, missing my 9 a.m. appointment, putting out fires that sprang up in the last few days, people being more sensitive than usual, goals not being met, conflict in relationships, rainy weather, a headache that won't stop ..... and the list goes on.

I wish I could tell you that I have it all together, but I can't - and don't! A few years ago, I admitted to a friend at work that I wasn't a superman. And while I felt free after sharing it, it devastated her. Sometimes we want people to be superhuman. But I can't be - ever! I'm just not a perfect man.

Chances are, most people have felt this way at some time or another. The frustration and hopelessness and defeat can get to all of us. I'm sure I can come up with some motivational quote about how defeat only makes us stronger and enables us to succeed down the road. And that quote may last a while, but it won't change our lives forever.

The truth is, while I don't feel very well today, I know that tomorrow will be a better day. My hope rests not in myself or my abilities, but within the person of Jesus Christ. Thank goodness for my relationship with Him. His unconquerable grace, mercy and love for me as His son gives me the hope that I cannot find within myself today. It's only through the power of God in my life that I know there's a better tomorrow, and that today's circumstances are just that - circumstances.

In Psalm 46, Israel was being pounced on. It seemed like everything was failing. Circumstances were difficult. Morale was low. Nothing seemed to be going well. But the promises of God crashed through all of those feelings of discouragement: (vv. 1-2) "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea..."; (v. 5) "God is within her; she will not fall; God will help her at break of day."; (vv. 10-11) "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."

It's times like this when I have to change perspective. Circumstances don't determine my life and how I live it. God is the rock that holds me up; the glue that holds things together. Focusing on the challenges of the day only makes life more uncomfortable. By changing perspective to a view of God, His grace and mercy and His love make life worth pursuing.

How about it?! Would a change of perspective make your life better today? Give it a shot. I think it will.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Those Wicked Preds

What a weekend! From ice hockey to the theater - it couldn't have been any better!

There's something about a hockey game that excites me. Only my second game, I went with my buddy, Chris, and saw my friend and client, Jenn, there. Jenn, the walking encyclopedia of sports knowledge and trivia, gave me a quick rundown on how hockey is played, the highlights, and an overall synopsis of the players. It could not have been more fun.

The longer I sat there, the more I enjoyed the cool icy air, the screaming fans, the typical arena food, the HugCam, silly games, and the fights that broke out. If you're looking for sports excitement, this is the game to see!

I never thought the Preds would ever defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets. It wasn't until the third period that the Preds scored the winning goal. No one scored until the second period when the Blue Jackets actually scored first. Followed by the Preds. Then the Jackets. Finally the Preds tied it up and it was in the last few minutes of the game when they scored that winning goal. Honestly, I never thought they'd ever shut out the Jackets. I guess when they're really up against the clock, they pull it all out to get ahead. For information about the Preds or to purchase tickets, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, as a birthday gift, I got to see the new musical, "Wicked", at TPAC. I'd already heard it was good, and I guess the fact that it was a sell-out proved that fact. "Wicked" is the pre-quel to "The Wizard of Oz" (well, sort of), and tells the story of the two witches of Oz - Glinda the Good Witch of the North, and Elphaba the Wicked Witch of the West.

The story opens when Glinda confirms to the Ozians that the Wicked Witch is dead. Immediately we flashback to the day the Elphaba was born. The story chronicles how the two girls met at college, became friends, and then went their separate ways. The story is told from Elphaba's point of view. Now, if you haven't seen the show, I won't spoil it for you by telling you the plot. Just know that there are plenty of twists and turns throughout the play and that there's a little surprise at the end. The play is no more in Nashville, but there are other locations where you can see it. CLICK HERE for more info on locations, dates, times and tickets.

What a great weekend. An exciting hockey game and a superb theater performance.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Only 74 Days Left

Only 74 days remain for all first-time homebuyers to qualify for the $8,000 tax credit. Lenders are getting busier and busier, so closing are getting pushed into the first part of November. For a first-time homebuyer to qualify for the tax credit, your purchase has to be closed NO LATER THAN November 30, 2009.

Having worked with many buyers in the last several years, there's a sequence that I use to help novice and experienced buyers. I call this my Homebuyer Assistance Plan. Every buyer who has followed this process has found that it makes life easier and simpler for them. The 10 steps include:

• Establish our agency relationship and explain expectations and how I can assist you through this process.

• Communicate together to determine your specific needs and wants.

• Assist with your mortgage pre-approval through a professional mortgage lender.

• Jointly conduct a detailed search of the MLS and select the most suitable homes for you.

• Tour selected homes to compare and evaluate your likes and dislikes.

• Analyze the estimated costs for the home you select.

• Explain and complete the contract forms.

• Conduct and complete the negotiation process.

• Coordinate all the details for closing.

• Follow up with you after closing to ensure your satisfaction.

Without some sort of explanation, this makes absolutely very little sense to someone. For a full explanation of how I can help you in your home search using this Plan, we'll need to set an appointment together to go through each of the steps.

If you're looking for a hassle-free and stress-free experience when buying a home, I'm the person you'll want to talk with. My buyers have been thrilled with the price, terms and conditions they contracted for the homes they purchased, as well as the ease of going through this process. Give me a shout via phone (615-373-3513) or email ( I can't wait to help you with your home search.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It's Raining, It's Pouring, the Old Man is Snoring .....

Remember that rhyme from childhood? How I laugh out loud when I hear it because of it's silliness. Our kids learned that rhyme when they were little and they loved saying it over and over again. It became a point of laughter for our family.

Years before our children were ever thought of, their mother and I commuted to work together everyday. We were dating at the time, then engaged, and our 40 minute commute to work resulted in lots of conversations about weather. Weather was a hot topic for us because, as teachers, we wondered how it would affect the school calendar.

We worked in New Kent County, Virginia, a small rural county that had a lot of shaded one-lane back roads and gravel roads. Most roads were unpaved and school buses could not drive down some of those roads when it rained heavily or snowed.

This week's weather - constant rain - reminded me of a little rhyme we used to say. "Rain, rain, go away. Come again some other day." There were many days when we splashed in the mud at New Kent High School. The unpaved parking lot made it difficult to stay dry and spotless. I distinctly remember days when my shoes and socks were drenched, mud splattered on my pants, and I couldn't keep dry enough. Those were the days!

Silliness isn't limited to little rhymes about the weather. How many of us have danced in the rain with the one we loved? And how many times have we dashed out of a store to our car in the pouring down rain, wondering why we bothered to shop in such weather? Or how about those football games that were rained out on Friday nights? Ever march in a parade soaked to the bone because it rained the entire parade? Rain brings back so many memories.

Even though today is dark and dreary, I had to laugh at those wonderful old memories. How completely silly we were, but we sure did enjoy ourselves. I wonder what kinds of silly things you have done.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

When Water Calls ...

I admit it. My greatest addiction in life is water. I love drinking water at just about every meal. I love a cleansing shower after an intense workout. I love the beach, just floating on the ocean waves, basking in the sunshine. And I love the pool.

About six months ago, a friend asked me to join her for Power Aqua. I'd heard about this class and thought it was just a bunch of older people who got together and did synchronized movements in the shallow end of the pool. I wasn't interested. But after Becky asked me to go several times, I figured I'd go to see what it was really about. My perceptions were wrong.

In that first class, I discovered that this wasn't my mother's Water Aerobics class. It was truly Power Aqua - a class devoted to increasing strength and endurance using the pool water for resistance. Having been a strong swimmer back in my younger years, I never thought I'd have any trouble with any endurance or strength while swimming. While challenging, I went back for more. Now, I can't get enough.

Bruce and Kara, friends of mine about my age, are there with me every Tuesday. Another couple, expecting their first child, are there every Saturday morning. Of course, other regulars are there, all ranging from age 25 through 60, men and women.

We usually start off running or jogging in the shallow end. The instructor, Sherry, knows how to customize the class to each person's needs. For example, I have the awesome privilege of having to swim the entire length of the pool. Others do not. We do everything from abdominal work to strengthening arms and legs, and end with a good stretching time. It's what I need several times a week, with a low-impact resistance to accommodate my injured shoulder.

If you're looking for a great way to build your strength and endurance, but need smoother resistance, get involved with a local Power Aqua class. To find a class near you, check out the local gyms in your area. YMCAs sponsor Power Aqua classes, but make sure that you find one with a strong instructor. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Howdy Ya'll

Growing up in Virginia, I found most of my familial roots in neighboring North Carolina. My mother's folks were from the central and eastern parts of the state. My dad's relatives migrated up to southeastern Virginia from northeastern North Carolina.

When I went to college, I refused to admit that my roots were entrenched in the south and southern culture. My father, definitely a Tidewater Virginia native, pronounced things a little differently like:

- House pronounced as houes
- Out pronounced as ouet
- A Thousand pronounced as ah thoesend
- Store pronounced as stow
- Fork prounced as foke

At Oral Roberts University, I tried my best to eradicate my southern lingo and accent by replacing it with more neutral terms. I enunciated clearly and articulately as to not be mistaken for a southerner. I guess I was a little too uppity for my own self.

Now all that has changed. I can hardly wait to get back home to my southern roots in Virginia. I love listening to my dad speak his Tidewater-ease, visiting with my southern friends, and enjoying good southern cooking. Yes, we southerners like to have bread with our Thanksgiving meal, even though we have dressing. And we like our sweet iced tea. We enjoy our southern festivals and southern music. Friday nights would just not be southern Friday nights without high school football games in the fall. We like our quits and crafts. We love our North Carolina apples and Frasier Fur Christmas trees. And we love saying the word, "ya'll".

People I've met here in Nashville love the southern culture they experience. We have a lot to offer. And don't you forget it, ya'll.

Monday, September 14, 2009

We're Off to See the Wizard - 70 Years Later

When genuine movie buffs think about great movies released in 1939, the one at the top of the list is "Gone With The Wind". Released that same year was an incredible movie directed by Victor Fleming, one of the original directors for "Wind". That movie - "The Wizard of Oz" - starring Judy Garland and a star-studded cast, opened to lesser than grand fanfare because of "Wind", but has endured with the love of generations since that time.

The most famous song in "Oz" is "Over the Rainbow" made famous by it's songstress, Judy Garland. Sung by choirs in thousands of schools nationwide, the song has endeared itself to young and old alike. Every time I hear the song, I think about the first time I ever saw "Oz" on TV - black and white, of course. I could only imagine the yellow brick road actually being yellow.

Producing this movie had it's challenges. "The Beverly Hillbillies" star, Buddy Ebsen was slated to play the Tin Man, but because of the contaminants in the make-up for the part, he became ill and was replaced by Jack Haley. For more information about the movie, go to THE WIKIPEDIA LINK. Here, you'll find loads of trivia and lesser known information about the movie.

Next Wednesday, September 23, "Oz" will be re-released for a one-time showing at local theaters nationwide to celebrate it's 70th anniversary. For more information on times and locations, CLICK HERE. In Nashville, showings will be at Opry Mills and Green Hills. I'll be at the showing at Opry Mills theaters. Hope to see you there.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Do You Remember?

I'll never forget that fateful day eight years ago. Sitting in my office at LifeWay, working away, my boss came down the hall, gathering everyone in front of the closest TV. Mike's wife had just called and told him that the WTC had been hit by a plane. When he told us, I was in disbelief.

Needless to say, what followed was another crash into the other tower, a plane crash into the Pentagon, and another one in Pennsylvania. I couldn't believe it. What was bad at the beginning had gotten far worse. We were actually under attack!

Watching the news that day, I sat there with chills running down my spine. My memory flashed back to stories my grandmother had told me about Pearl Harbor's attack and the fear that she felt. Never in my lifetime did I ever think we would not be safe in the U.S.

That night, we told our children about the attacks and reassured them that they would be safe. Of course, Dad and Mom were there to protect them. At just 7 and 5, the images on the TV were more than they could understand. I'm sure they saw the concern on our faces as we watched the news most of the evening.

Today, memorial remembrances are being held all over the country for the 3000-plus people who died that day, all innocent victims of terrorists. As I watched the news this morning, I thought about how our family would have been affected had I, or our children's mother, had died in one of those situations. Work took me to various places where I had to fly, and it could have been me on one of those airplanes.

My purpose today is not to dredge up the frightful memories of that horrific day. Instead, I want to remind us to be grateful for our lives, for the country we live in (regardless of what we disagree with), and for our families. God has richly blessed us and while we struggle with differences between us, we still live in the best country in the world.

As you go through the day, why not take a few minutes to pause and pray for those who lost loved ones in those tragic events? And while you're at it, maybe say a prayer of gratitude for the blessings you have been given.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Have You Been to the Fair?

If you haven't been to the Wilson County Fair, you need to go. Our family loved going to the fair together, and I had the opportunity to go last night. My bud, Chris, went with me where we snacked on corn dogs, funnel cakes, and lemonade.

No fair experience would ever be complete without seeing the livestock exhibits. I'm not necessarily a "cow" person, but they were interesting to see, poop and all. Their breeders were with them, keeping them clean to make sure they were eligible for that big prize.

Later on we saw the rabbits in cages, and one looked like a cow. The white bunny with black speckles was something new to me. I'd never seen one before. I hadn't seen a duck with a "hat" on it's head until last night, either. And those turkeys. The blue ribbon winner was a turkey that's considered rare because it's kind is not raised for meat. Interesting ......

While Chris isn't a big ride person, he did break down and go on the ferris wheel where you can see the lights of the fair. Any kid would be mesmerized. I tried the Ali Baba - the large 22 seat swing that swings 180 degrees - and survived. No, not a nervous stomach, but I admit I did hold on for the 180 degree part. Something never to miss. You should try it.

Then there were the hog races. The MC was quite the actor. He lined up a cheerleader for each hog. The cheerleading queen for one of the pigs in the last race was nominated by her husband (obviously, not a very sympathetic man), and when her pig won, she was given the choice of "snout or ham". Which one would you have chosen? Well, the ham is not on the front end and she just couldn't muster up enough to kiss that pig!

Just down the lane was the juggling act. One man, two man and three man jugglers captivated the little kids in the crowd. When they climbed up to a 50-foot height above the ground to juggle, the audience was amazed.

The highlight of the fair was the hypnotism act. Believable and unbelievable at the same time. When Chris and I got there, there were 15 people on the stage, sitting in chairs, fast asleep. The things the hypnotist made them do! Wow. The first lady was instructed to do her best imitation of Madonna. She strutted around on stage just like Madonna did. The Michael Jackson impersonation was definitely the best performance, moon-walking and all. Even the gloved hand movements were believable. So, was it 'for real'? You can decide when you see it .....

Wilson County's fair is given the highest accolades. If you haven't been, you need to go. Today through August 29. Don't miss it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Camp Hope at It's Finest

It's hard to believe that two weeks have passed since Camp Hope ended. Honestly, I've been slacking off on writing because I came back from camp and things really geared up in the world of real estate. That aside, I wanted to share with my readers how fantastic camp was.

Twenty-one kids up to age 16, 15 adult counselors, action-packed days, three square meals a day, and nearly perfect weather made for an incredible camp for everyone!

Did I tell you about the zip line? Or the obstacle course? Kick-ball games? Swimming twice a day in the pool that has it's own slide? How about the Wii competition? Tie-Dyed tees and building bird houses? And we even had a spider hike - hiking through the woods and saw over 500 spiders and their webs? Interesting. And fun.

Dillon and Michael were the two guys I was responsible for. Both are great guys. This was Dillon's last year and so we made it a great last camp for him. Our dunking contests in the pool became an everyday habit. Michael was my buddy for our chicken fights. We were last year's champs. This year few took us on.

Amber, my Monopoly opponent had a blast. We met when she was a patient at Vandy over a year ago. This was her second Camp Hope experience. What a wonderful kid.

Our favorite pool activity, after the slide, was the long snake we made. It started with just three of us, then it grew to a long 15 people. Loads of fun as we circled the pool over and over.

These are the greatest kids in the world. I wish I could take them home with me and enjoy them year 'round. They're sweet, imaginative, and grateful to be alive.

Won't you give generously to Camp Hope? If you'd like more information about Camp Hope, click HERE. Your generous support means that more children have the opportunity to go at no expense to them.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Amazing Chase!

What do you get with two dozen kids, 14 adult counselors, elaborate scavenger hunts at the local library and mall, food with lots of carbs and waking up too early? It's Camp Hope, the annual camp for kids who have suffered from burns. For four days and nights, we're on "The Amazing Chase" this year, an elaborate concoction of fun based on TV's "The Amazing Race".

This camp is the highlight of the year for most of these burn survivors. Having been made fun of by their peers, this is a place where these kids find acceptance, love, compassion and can just be a normal kid.

So far, we've done two legs of the race, only after the boys and male counselors endured a grueling dunking competition in the pool. And this year, I actually made it down the water slide - something I'd not accomplished easily in the past.

If you're on FaceBook, you can find pics of our adventures there in my photo album. Take a look through those and you'll wish you were here. Not only is it a great time for the campers, it's the highlight of my summer, too.

Say a prayer for our safety and wish us well. We're off to our next adventure .....

Monday, July 27, 2009

Coping with Burnout

During these economic times, burnout and stress are fairly common. I've seen stress on the faces of friends, and have even endured some stress myself. During these stressful times, I began to think about life and how challenging it can be. Without skills to cope with these everyday challenges, burnout can happen fast and furiously.

Ask yourself, "How do I know I'm burning out?" Look for these signs: (1) everyday seems like a bad day, and/or (2) you feel overwhelmed, bored or irritable at home or work. Most people just retreat from life or keep steaming ahead, but neither of these are remedies for burnout.

Here are some tips to cope with burnout:

- Build a support system. Plan a fun outing with family, friends and/or co-workers. Cultivating real relationships can make you feel connected to others and help reduce stress.

- Try to add fun to your daily work life. Stay positive and find humor in stressful situations. Most of the time, things that happen probably won't matter a year from now.

- Create a calm space. Find a stress-free zone at work or at home. Sitting quietly for a few minutes can improve your mood and refresh you for the next challenge.

- Be kind to yourself. While it's easier to be critical of yourself, make it a habit to focus on your own positive and favorable attributes.

Reducing stress, the cause of burnout, can impair your health. Constant tiredness, difficulty sleeping, and unexplained aches and pains are all signs of stress. You may want to see your physician. In the meantime, take care of yourself and make some changes.

I care about each of my clients personally. If you're looking for an agent who also cares about helping your sell your current and/or helping you buy a home, then give me a call.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The End of 46 Years; The Beginning of a New Era

After almost 46 years, my parents made a move. Not to downsize, but to a little larger place. Some people may think that's odd, but for them, my dad's health necessitated the move to a house with an open floor plan, a larger and private bath, and just one step off the ground. That translated into a little more space.

Today we're blessed because they were able to sell their 1220 square foot home for top dollar. They only came off $5,000 off their list price and sold the house in five weeks in a buyer's market.

Before the house was listed, my parents and I talked about what needed to be done to the house to get it ready to sell. They had already renovated their kitchen with custom maple cabinets and new appliances, covered all their exterior trim with vinyl, installed all new windows, and added central air to the house.

Since all of those things had been taken care of, then what really needed to be done to get it sold? There were three main things and several minor changes that we did to get the house sold for top dollar. Here's what they were:

1 - Removed the old carpet and pad (27 years old) and refinished the hardwood floors.
2 - Painted the entire house with updated neutral colors. They painted the walls beige and trim was painted semi-gloss white.
3 - Staged the house. We removed oversized furniture out of the house and de-cluttered the accessories. We also removed most family pictures. This gave the house an open and airy feeling.

1 - Changed out all door knobs. The original brass knobs were severely worn.
2 - Changed one ceiling fan out to a smaller, more proportional one.
3 - Changed the dining room chandelier out to a smaller light fixture because the room was only 10x10 and the new light was more proportional.
4 - Removed all cornice boards/valences and replaced those with single rods and sheers on all the windows.

Built in 1952, this all brick house had been taken care of very well over the years. Removing the carpet and repainting it updated it considerably. By spending about $3,500 to take care of all of the major and minor things, our parents made an additional $37,000 on the sale. Was it worth it? We think so.

In this market, you need a real estate agent who knows what to do to get your house sold for the price, terms and conditions acceptable to you. If you are looking for an agent who knows how to get a house sold, give me a call.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ben and Lena

A few years ago, I had the awesome privilege of meeting Ben Jones. Ben, a faithful member of our church, The Bridge Fellowship, and I became fast friends. Not long after we met, I had the honor of helping him buy his first home.

Not long after the first part of the year, Ben discovered that he found the love of his life. Lena Bryant, a sweet elementary school teacher, quickly became the object of his affection.

Last month, on June 13, Ben and Lena tied the knot at Oak Island in North Carolina. And last night, family and friends had the opportunity to celebrate their marriage at a wonderful reception at Cumberland University in Lebanon.

Ben and Lena are the perfect couple. Both are such sweet, selfless people. They put God and others first, and love each other very deeply. Ben and Lena are some of my favorite people! Congratulations, you two! Best wishes and may you be extremely blessed!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Run, Jack, Run

I wasn't even a mile into the race, and I asked myself what in the world I was doing running a race that I'd not trained for thoroughly enough. The svelte couple pushing their baby stroller race ahead of me. So did the older man and the dad and son duo. I hit myself over my head with my imaginary wet noodle, lamenting that I'd not trained enough to make it through this race in record time.

It has been a few years since I ran my last 5K. That was Jasper, Georgia, with a friend. Our time? Almost 45 minutes. This time I declared I'd better be faster. Hopefully, I thought, I'd like to run this race in less than 45 minutes, too.

Once I got to the first mile marker, I was relieved. I couldn't believe that a mile was THIS LONG! Surely the second mile would come quicker, but it didn't. In fact, it was even longer. The third mile wasn't quite as bad and when I got back to Maryland Way, the end was in sight.

There stood my buds, Adam and Robert, clicking pics and cheering me on. I felt as encouraged by their cheering as I felt defeated by my exhausting effort. Surely my time was longer than any other 5K I'd run. Still, I kept running to the finish line.

Once I got to the finish, I saw the clock ticking down at 35:00 minutes. After crossing, I asked the Nashville Striders member if the clock was right. I thought it was supposed to be an hour and 35 minutes.

As I ran this 5K, there were lots and lots of thoughts that crossed my mind. Here are just a few of those:

1 - Why did I enter a race in a sport that I don't particularly care for? As competitive as I am, I always love a challenge and wanted to do something just to accomplish it. Sometimes in life I just want to accomplish something for the sake of accomplishment. I'll run my first marathon within the next year.

2 - Why didn't I train more? Sure, I ran a lot, but nothing like I should have. Training is a day-to-day effort that results in an accomplished long-term goal. This reminded me that life is like this. Daily practice results in long-term accomplishments and success.

3 - How can other people run that much faster than I can? Of course, training is part of it, but so is natural ability. I have to work harder and smarter, and I will. But also, why focus on those in front? My focus should be on what I was doing and besides, look at those behind me. When I finished, half of those racing were behind me.

4 - Why were my friends not running with me? One thing I've learned is that most people who want to lead have to do so alone. With leadership qualities, I've found myself going it alone more times than not. And it's OK.

5 - What can I do to be better next time? Like in real life, discipline is essential. That's probably the most important thing I can remind myself of. While the daily grind may be boring and mundane, routine practice garners the most success when it comes down to that.

Well, I guess the race was beneficial in more ways than one. After it was over, I didn't lament; I celebrated the victory. Finish time was 34:57, an 11 minute mile. Not bad for a man who needs to be in better shape. Would I do it again? Sure. And when I do that marathon, I'll probably have more thoughts to share. Anybody care to join me next time?

For an agent who thoughtfully considers how to get your house sold, and/or how to help you buy a new home, give me a call. I'm here to help you with all of your real estate needs.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Nashville's in the Top 25 ...

If you missed that small blurb in yesterday's Tennessean, you haven't heard that Nashville made it in the top 25 best real estate markets in the country. Topping out the list were Texas cities Houston and Dallas, followed by places like Wichita and Tulsa. These cities saw growth in the 2-3% range. Nashville came in at number 25 with a .9% increase in median sales price. Glad to hear it! Things are definitely looking up!

You can read the article by clicking HERE.

Working with the right real estate agent is important. This agent keeps up with the market on a daily basis, noting trends and knowing what to do and when to do it. For expert knowledge and experience, give me a shout! I'm here to help.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Do You Have a "Clean House"?

Apparently the show, "Clean House", has hit the ground running. Fans everywhere are talking about the show, especially the 'Messiest House in the Country' episodes.

After waking up way too early this morning with those darn allergies I have, I felt my way to the living room to see what was on at that ungodly hour. What I found was one of the latest episodes of "Clean House".

Now I'm not a novice fan of the show. In fact, I've seen it many times. I am ashamed to reveal that I'm somewhat of a voyeur when it comes to some reality shows, this being one of them.

If you haven't seen it, the premise of the show is that a cast of four experts, along with their crew, will help 'rescue' people from their clutter. The host, Niecy Nash, explores the 'why' of their clutter while the other cast members are helping the folks organize, toss and sell their unnecessary items, and then redecorate/renovate rooms in their home. The designer, Mark Brunetz, comes up with a design scheme. Yard Sale Diva Trish Suhr organizes the yard sale. And go-to guys, Matt Iseman or Eugene Long, take care of any construction and/or repairs to the house. All four cast members negotiate with the homeowners to rid themselves of junk and clutter and work together on a new and improved design. In the end, everyone is (supposed to be) happy. Sometimes they are and sometimes they're not.

This morning's show was set in Cincinnati. An adult daughter called the show, hoping the cast and crew would come rescue her and her mother from her mother's 30 year pile-up of junk and whatever. Little can be left to the imagination when the homeowners and cast found rats and mice in the basement. Honestly, I've NEVER seen anything like that, and have actually helped clean homes as mission projects several times over the years.

There was so much stuff and junk that it took a 7,000 square foot warehouse to house it all for the yard sale. After the yard sale, there were STILL more things left over than anyone could ever imagine - way too much to go back into the house. And during part of the 'reveal', the mother stormed off the show and left the adult daughter to fend for herself. Luckily, mother and daughter loved the major improvements made to the house before mom stormed off.

So, is your house clean? Or do you need a "makeover" of your home? Is it clutter-free?

A few years ago I had the privilege of helping a friend clean out her parents' home in the Atlanta area. It took us six three-day weekends to get it all sorted, discarded, and hauled away to a friend's yard sale. There was enough stuff in this 1,800 square foot house for a house measuring 3,000 square feet. While it was an overall pleasant experience, it was still a little daunting to sort through it all. Instead of waiting until years down the road to get things de-cluttered, maybe now is the time to start sorting.

Tonight's episode, on the Style Channel at 8 Eastern/7 Central, is the last home in the series of contenders for the Messiest Home Award. You can check it out at CLEAN HOUSE. You'll be glad you did.

If you're looking for a real estate agent who looks out for your best interests and who can negotiate the price, terms and conditions for the sale and/or purchase of your home, please give me a call. I'll be glad to help you in the process.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What Do We Talk About Now?

After publishing three articles on divorce and how it affects families and finances, I received many, many emails and comments via my Facebook page. At this point, I just don't what else I can say about the issue. Honestly, it was a very emotional post for me, and those who commented did so with emotion as well.

I wish I could tell you that I did everything right when I went through my divorce, but I didn't. I made many, many mistakes. I wish I could take those back and re-do that period of time in my life, but I can't. What I can do now is move ahead, hoping for the best for all four of us.

When people are separated, the emotions are high and the environment is tense. People say things they don't really mean, all as a means of self-preservation and self-protection. The best analogy I can think of would be that of a man who had endured the battlefield during an intense war and later suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTS). I can elaborate on this, but you probably get the point.

With this in mind, it's easy to say that people should and can forgive and move on, but some just find it hard to do so. I did. It has taken me several years to forgive the actions of the other parties - my former spouse, friends who took sides, and acquaintances who barely knew us but had an opinion about it all.

It's very difficult to start over when your life as a married couple was what ours was. Overall, we had a good marriage and a great home life, but pride, arrogance and unforgiveness just got in the way and we couldn't get past those things.

In retrospect, I've learned a lot from the divorce: how to forgive when it doesn't feel good to do so, the importance of letting some things go that won't matter a year from now, centering on the positive things in life, striving to do the best with difficult situations, and more. I guess the biggest thing I've learned from all of this is that I have to be authentic, honest. No secrets. No hidden agendas. No facades.

Without revealing confidential things that caused our divorce, I will say that I am mostly to blame. Selfishness was the biggest thing that I am guilty of, manifested in several different ways. I did not cherish my wife enough to put her ahead of myself and my own selfish desires. It was during this time that God was not first, as I desired and said He would be. If I had to do it all again, I'd definitely make major changes in my life to put God first, followed by my spouse and family.

Divorce does put things in perspective. I'm in the business of helping people find homes and helping them sell their homes. But in all reality, bricks and mortar and wood and nails don't mean a whole heck of a lot if there's no one there to enjoy it with you.

Our divorce was a painful one and while it was, it's been one of the best things I've had to endure. It changed my life for the better because of what I've learned and what changes needed to be made. Thank goodness God gives us second, third, fourth, .... one million, two hundred fifty-six thousand, nine hundred thirty-three chances, and more. How blessed I am.

I've shared this today, not for you to feel sorry for me or to have pity on me, but to share where I've been as a hope that you won't find yourselves there. I am blessed beyond imagination and am grateful for the relationships with you that I currently have. Blessings to you all .......


Monday, June 22, 2009

When Divorce Hits Home (Part 3)

My friend, Robin Crecink, in Virginia Beach, sent me this email today. I asked her if I could print it here on my blog and she agreed. I think Robin shares some significant insight into the present and future divorce situations. The goal in this series is not to whine about divorce, but insights need to be shared to help parents cope with the situation at hand, whether relational or financial. The insights Robin shares are from the relational side of the divorce. I wish I'd had these insights when we divorced three years ago.

Thanks, Robin, for sharing:

I enjoyed the insight of the divorce series. Just thought you might be interested in a few more nuggets of wisdom to share.

If children are involved, do everything in your power to stay involved in their life. Call frequently just to chat. Know their friends and their parents. Do activities that involve their friends. Go to Parent Teacher conferences. Help them with school projects. Make it a point to get to all performances and games. Be a soccer mom or a softball dad. Sign up to bring snacks. Volunteer in their activities. Offer to keep sick children. Take them on vacation with you. The majority of your vacation time should be spent with the people most important to you.

Never let your feelings for your ex get in the way of being with your children. We all deal with people on a daily basis who are not our favorite yet we work with them to accomplish some given task. Nothing is more important than your children. Get used to being with your ex for the sake of your kids. Don’t make your kids choose between parents on holidays and birthdays. Either parent should be welcome in whatever location the children are in.

Resolve never to discuss financial issues in front of the kids. Do not make your children messengers. Conflicts need to be resolved between adults and should not involve the children.

Teach your children to honor and respect the other parent. This means taking them to buy Father's Day or Mother's Day gifts, as well as birthday gifts and Christmas gifts for the other parent. It means helping them write notes of appreciation for special things. Nothing makes a child feel more important than presenting his parent with something he picked out. The respect you teach them will come back full circle to you.

Give extravagantly of your time and resources to your children. This is not about buying their love or spoiling them excessively. This is about expressing your love and building up a relationship with them. Investments of time can be as frugal as talking a walk in the park with a picnic lunch. Quality time is not sitting in front of the TV for hours at a time.

Remember child support is just that -- money for your children’s basic needs. When you write that check, think about your children, not your spouse. There are abuses on both sides of this issue, but more often than not, it is the children who suffer. Providing for children is expensive and involves far more than just clothing. Don’t expect your children to have a change in lifestyle because of your divorce. They should not have to give up for their parent's mistakes.

Take your child out to buy school supplies or other needed items without asking. Even if you can only get a pack of paper and crayons, your child will remember how their parents spent their time and money.

Remember, children are children long past the legal age of 18. Expect to help with college or career training. Neither parent's role ends on a birthday.

Plan on being involved with your ex for the rest of your life. As long as there are graduations, weddings, grandchildren and family celebrations you will want to be involved.

Divorce can be avoided IF the two parties will humble themselves and forgive the other person for their wrong actions. If you're in the early stages of separation or divorce, find a very wise family counselor who can help you iron out the issues before they get worse. Be selective and find one who WANTS to help you mend your marriage. It will save a lot of heartache in the end.

While this agent wants to help you sell your home, if you HAVE to sell it due to divorce, my heart's desire is for your marriage to remain intact. Bottom line: divorce is just not worth it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

When Divorce Hits Home (Part 2)

Divorce takes such a toll on families everywhere. Sometimes the filing spouse may think that the relationship will end when the divorce is final. However, that's not the case, especially if there are children involved. The final date of the divorce is just the beginning of more and more headaches, if the two parties will not communicate.

While we've explored a little about the relational aspects of divorce, let's take a look at the financial challenges of divorce.

In Tennessee, the house may be in only one name of the couple, but Tennessee law dictates that BOTH parties have claim to the property. However, when both names are on the mortgage and the deed, a quit claim deed does not suffice enough to remove the quit-claiming party from ANY mortgage responsibility. Automobiles are the same way. Even though one name may be on the deed, it's considered joint property in Tennessee.

While I am not a financial expert, I am recommending some things that divorcing couples should be aware of:

1 - When quit-claiming the house and other real property, include a deadline date (in the divorce papers) for the receiving party to have the property refinanced into his/her name solely. This is the same situation for vehicles.

2 - When dividing other property like dishes, furniture, etc., be amicable. Nothing is worth fighting over.

3 - Check details on credit card obligations and pay off everything you possibly can before the divorce is final. Carrying debt is a huge burden that only gets bigger and worse.

4 - Mediate as much as possible and do not allow an attorney to tell you that you have to go to court. Things end much better if the parties will mediate.

5 - Get everything in writing. If one spouse is taking on all of the marital debt, have in writing that the other spouse is not responsible for it. This will save time and hassles down the road when applying for personal and mortgage loans.

6 - Talk with a CPA and an attorney who can advise you of the laws in Tennessee. Several friends have told me that they are just going to do whatever their spouses wanted, but when they received the papers, they changed their minds. Do your homework before making any decisions.

Before making any rash decisions, take a good long look at yourself. Explore yourself inside and find out what problems you have brought into the marriage. It's easy to focus on the other party's flaws, but both of you have brought issues to the table.

Divorce is never a pleasant subject to discuss, but because it's so prevalent in our society, it cannot be ignored. My heart's desire is for every couple to reconcile. Nothing is worth divorcing over when forgiveness can be given.

Why not think about it ......

While divorce is unpleasant, sometimes it results in the sale of real property. Please give me a call if I can help you to get your current home sold and to help you find a new place to live.