Friday, May 29, 2009

Are Loan Modifications Good for Homeowners?

You've heard about them and you may have actually spoken to your mortgage lender about one. What I'm speaking of is a loan modification. A loan modification keeps the homeowner in the house and helps the bank to avoid foreclosure or a short sale on the house. Most people who need a loan modification are those who have had trouble making their regular payments due to a significant financial calamity. Some of those include divorce, medical emergency bills, loss of a job, and reduction in the value of the home due to changing market conditions.

Several friends have called me over the years asking me about these. In short, they're a type of refinance on the house. Sometimes the interest rate may be reduced, yet other times it may be increased. Monthly payments could go up or go down. Each situation is different, depending on the amount that is currently owed to get the payments current. The cost to modify the loan is in the neighborhood of two or three times your monthly mortgage payment. If, for example, your monthly mortgage payment is $1000 a month, then the cost to modify is somewhere in the neighborhood of $2000 to $3000. This cost is usually added onto the principle amount owed on the house, so the new terms calculate interest on that amount, too.

Since banks typically only recoup about 65% of the value of a home when they foreclose, they would prefer to modify the loan. Homeowners will benefit by banks that are willing to modify their loans.

There's a great article in Realty Times. If you click HERE, you can read the full article to learn more about the ins and outs of loan modifications.

There are many real estate agents in Middle Tennessee. To work with an agent who is knowledgeable and professional, please give me a call. I enjoy working with first-time and experienced buyers as well as current homeowners.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

National Hamburger Month

Who would have ever guessed that there was a National Hamburger Month? Until yesterday, I'd never heard of it, but it intrigued me so much I decided to do a little research and then write about it.

There's no official proclamation or inaugural year, but it's so popular that a Google search of 'national hamburger month' yields multiple results. Apparently White Castle, the nation's first burger chain, started the idea, but there's no history of it on White Castle's website.

One of America's favorite foods, the hamburger supposedly dated back to the early 1200s, the days of Genghis Khan. Today,we recognize hamburgers for sale at our local Golden Arches, Krystal and a host of other chains. But most people admit their favorite burger is the one they grill in their own backyard. For more hamburger history, click HERE. What you'll find will intrigue and surprise you.

My favorite recipe is a simple one:

- 2 pounds of 92% ground beef (I use Laura's Lean Beef, found in the organic meat section of your local grocery store), divided into thirds*
- Shape portions into six patties
- Season with Johnny's seasoning
- Grill on medium heat, turning only once after the juices float to the top of the burger
- Serve on hamburger or kaiser buns (white or wheat) with traditional condiments, lettuce and tomato
- Serve with fries, baked beans and mixed fruit

For those of you who opt to forgo the grill and head out to a local dig, you may want to try either of these places for great burgers (these are my favs in Nashville):

- Ruby Tuesday's Triple Prime Burger, served with endless fries

- Fat Mo's Little Mo Burger (I get the combo with seasoned fries to go)

- McDonald's Double Cheeseburger with shredded cheese (this is the cheese they use on Snack Wraps) and Big Mac Sauce (yes, you can special order a burger there)

May is almost gone, so we need to celebrate the incredible hamburger by Sunday. So much for dieting this month, hey, it's worth it! Enjoy, my friends, enjoy ...

A real estate agent who knows Nashville and is professional, I can help you find a home at the price, terms and conditions acceptable to you. If you'll give me a call, I'll be glad to show you my Homebuyer's Assistance Plan, a plan second to none that even experienced buyers like to follow.

*Laura's 92% lean beef also comes in patties for your convenience.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Greening Up Nashville's Homes

You're the envy of the neighborhood. It's a real showplace and you even have a chance at winning "Yard of the Month". The grass is manicured at three inches and beautifully green. Last fall's aerating, overseeding and watering worked like a charm on this spring's lawn.

Stop! While preparing the lawn for the spring is making things 'green', what I really wanted to talk about today is 'green homes'. We've heard a lot about green homes in the last few years, and they're getting even more attention.

What makes a house 'green'? General Guidelines include:
- Plug air leaks
- Choose Energy Star appliances
- Explore solar power
- Reduce water use
- Use low-VOC products
- Use wood alternatives or FSC-certified wood products
- Plant trees to provide shade and wind protection for your home
- Use native plantings

This, in no way, provides a fully comprehensive list. To learn about the 'green home' standards, click HERE. You'll learn a lot about how to make your home more energy efficient. Nashville is becoming more of a 'green home' market. To read the article in The Tennessean about Nashville's green home market, use THIS LINK.

For an agent who understands the Nashville real estate market, you may want to give me a call or send me an email. I'm happy to answer all of your questions about your home and can point you in the direction of an Energy Star home inspector.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Renting vs. Owning

So, you've never owned a home before, but for the first time, you're actually considering stepping out on that limb and taking the plunge into owning a home. Congratulations! You've come pretty far.

I remember the first time I bought a home. I thought my credit wasn't that great and I worried about paying more than 7.5% interest. When we finally decided to put down roots in Jacksonville, Florida, our mortgage lender pulled our credit 'just to see what it was'. We actually had nothing to worry about. And with that, we took the plunge into buying our first home.

Rest assured. Owning a home, while nail-biting and exciting, is a great investment. While lenders are scrutinizing mortgage loan applications a little closer, even those with a 620 credit score may still qualify for a mortgage.

To help you make a decision about whether 'to buy' or 'not to buy', here are a few comparisons between owning and renting:

- Tax benefits of ownership are available for monies spent on interest and other deductions.
- Control of occupancy is assured since you are your own 'landlord'. No one can tell you when you have to move.
- You can accumulate equity over time.
- Appreciation in value is the norm. Owners enjoy increasing values.
- You choose the decor of your home.
- You reap the benefits from any additions and improvements.
- It's yours! You can have a sense of price in owning your own home.

- You cannot deduct rent payments from income tax.
- You are subject to the landlord's lease and this typically means annual increased rent payments.
- There is no equity accumulation in renting. You are throwing away your money every month.
- Only landlords benefit from appreciation in values - not tenants.
- You live in someone else's decor choices.
- The landlord benefits from any work and improvements you make to the property.
- Your rent does not invest in your future every month.

Well, there you have it - an honest comparison of owning vs. renting. It's very revealing, isn't it?! Are you ready to take that plunge now? Today is a great day to buy. Prices have never been better. Sellers have never been more willing to negotiate. And interest rates are at their all-time low.

If you need help purchasing a home and desire to work with a knowledgeable professional, give me a shout. I'd love to help you take that first step in owning a home.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Easy Way to Get Your House Sold!

With the down real estate market here in Nashville, getting a home ready to sell is no longer an option. People can no longer get 100% loans, so they need their savings for the down payment on the house. In the past, savings were used to repair or upgrade a house. No more!

If you want to get your house sold in record time for top dollar, taking care of repairs is a necessity. Before listing, get a home inspection and take care of the repairs. If you can, upgrade the house as much as possible to bring it up to date.

When making upgrades, do not overspend. Putting granite countertops in the kitchen of a $150,000 house is overkill. Yet, upgrading the laminate with a granite-look pattern is a wise move.

The Tennessean ran an article today that emphasizes what sellers should do. My parents listed their home (in Williamsburg, Virginia) back in mid-March. The 57 year old house was in great condition overall, and by spending a few thousand dollars to refinish their hardwood floors, update a few light fixtures and ceiling fans, and paint the house in neutral colors, they realized over $30,000 more in proceeds. Five weeks after listing the house, it sold, and it only has one bathroom. My parents made a very wise decision.

Regardless of where the market is, sellers typically think their houses are worth much more than they are, even when the houses need work or updating. The Nashville area market is on the upswing, but it's not where it was before. It will take some time for it to fully recover, so if you want your house to sell in record time for top dollar, the house must be in top-notch condition. While it may take a little bit of time to get your house ready to sell, it's EASY!

To read the article, click THIS LINK.

If you are in the market to sell your home and want to work with a professional real estate agent who understands how to get a house sold, give me a call. I'll be glad to meet with you to discuss what you need to do to get your house in great condition to get it sold for the price, terms and conditions acceptable to you.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Chat with Me ....

Want to know more about Jack's Faves & Raves? How about the latest about real estae? Or what's new in Nashville? If so, then let's chat! On the right side of this blog's home page, you'll find a chat box that enables us to chat privately. Just click on the box to get started. If I'm online, I'll respond.

School's Out, So Whaddya Do Now?

This week marks the end of school for many area school systems. Are you overwhelmed with what you're going to do with the kids this summer? Out of ideas? Here are some:

1 - Join a local community pool (if your neighborhood doesn't have one). Take them to the pool for an hour or two in the morning before the sun gets really hot.

2 - Teach your child how to mow the yard and let him/her have some experience mowing it when the grass is not unbearably high.

3 - Help your child set up a 'lemonade and cookies' stand. Teach him/her how to budget for expenses and to find customers in a busy location.

4 - Teach your child how to cook. Start with something simple like chocolate chip cookies, bacon and eggs, cupcakes, and hot dogs. Let them plan a meal and cook dinner once a week.

5 - Show your child how to do his/her own laundry and let him/her experiment.

6 - Go on several short family vacations to nearby places. Suggestions include Fall Creek Falls, Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and/or Holiday World (Santa Claus, Indiana).

7 - Make a weekly trip to the library to check out books and DVDs.

8 - Go to the mall and just walk together as a family. After your walk, take a few hours and shop and eat lunch or a snack.

9 - Teach your child how to wash the car and allow him/her to do that for you once a week.

10 - Have family fun nights once a week where you watch a DVD together while eating a "Silly Supper". (Note: Silly Suppers can be anything you want them to be, as long as they're not dinner fare that you would typically eat.)

Doing things with kids is great, but sometimes a little advanced planning needs to take place. Children (of all ages) want to spend some time with their parents, so don't feel like you're invading their space by asking them to participate. It's all about spending time together and the memories that are made will never leave them. Also, everyone will have great fun.

If you're looking for a real estate agent who cares about you and your family, then contact me by phone or by email. I'm here to help you with the purchase of a new home and/or the sale of your existing home. Professional and knowledgeable, I can provide real estate services for you that are second to none.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tax Credits for Current Homeowners

With all the hoopla surrounding new homeowners and the (up to) $8,000 tax credit, there's been little coverage about tax credits for existing homeowners. If you are upgrading your home this year, you qualify for a tax credit for specific things that make your home more energy efficient.

So what qualifies? The list follows this paragraph, but keep in mind that the tax credits are NOT dollar for dollar. In fact, some of the upgrades are much more expensive than typical replacements, so you won't receive the same dollar amount in credits that you spend on energy efficiency.


Adding Insulation

Replacing Windows

Replacing Doors

Installing a new A/C

Replacing the Roof

For more information on the tax credit categories, click HERE. And for more specifics about the credits, contact your CPA or tax advisor, or check

Contact Jack Jernigan if you want to hire a full-time professional real estate agent who can give you knowledgeable advice on getting your home sold. Jack also works with buyers and is a savvy negotiator who can get the price, terms and conditions acceptable to you.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Staging for Success

You're ready to go. The move is inevitable. You've selected the best agent to market your property and the price is right on the money. Easy sell, right? Wrong! In today's buyer's market, a house priced right in a great location is probably competing for a buyer with the other 30 houses priced right in a great location.

There is one important question that needs to be asked: Is my house a VALUE perceived by buyers? Even though it's priced right, you need an edge to make it THE value that buyers want. The answer to this is staging.

Staging turns the home you live in into a model home. It makes rooms feel larger and roomier, gives buyers an idea of how their belongings would fit in the space, and helps buyers to see how they would live in the house.

So how do you stage your house?

1- CLEAN thoroughly. If you don't have time to clean, hire a professional cleaning service to come in to clean the house. This includes windows, window sills, walls, bathrooms, kitchen, etc. Paint is very inexpensive and will heighten the interest of buyers. If your house needs to be freshened up, a good paint job will do the trick. Your house has to sparkle!

2 - FIX anything that needs to be repaired. This includes windows with broken seals, leaky plumbing, etc. If you want to know the true condition of your house, hire a licensed home inspector to give you a thorough inspection.

3 - ELIMINATE clutter. Start in the kitchen. Organize the cabinets as well as the refrigerator and pantry, clear off your counter tops. Also take the time to organize your bedroom, hall and linen closets. Make sure you don't forget to eliminate personal items in the bath as well. Make sure everything is neat and organized. Yes, buyers do look in closets, cabinets and in bathroom drawers.

4 - NEUTRALIZE colors. If your house has an eggplant bedroom, black trim, or a Tennessee orange family room, then repaint with a neutral color. Neutrals are not limited to beiges and tans. Explore some contemporary neutrals in the brown and green families. Talk with a local designer or check out some model homes in new neighborhoods. Don't forget to neutralize odors, too. Pet and cigarette odors are immediate turn offs.

5 - DEPERSONALIZE your home. Removing political or organizational trinkets and accessories that would potentially deter buyers from seeing themselves in your home.

On March 17, my parents listed their home to sell in Williamsburg, Virginia. Just a small three bedroom, one bath home in an established neighborhood, their spent a few thousand dollars to have the hardwood floors refinished and the walls and trim painted neutral colors. They also decluttered the house by storing some unnecessary furniture in the garage and attic. In just five weeks, they had an acceptable offer on their house. Currently, Williamsburg is a buyer's market.

For more on staging your house, check out THIS LINK. Staging will take some time, but it will be well worth it in the end when you're sitting at the closing table signing on the dotted line.

If you're looking for a real estate agent who understands staging, please feel free to contact me. I will provide advice on how to get your home staged for successful results, and will also provide you with references to stagers in the area who can help you get your home ready to sell.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Facebook Friends

Last summer I heard about all the hoopla about Facebook, so I checked it out. I established my page and it wasn't too long before I heard from a former math student of mine. We chatted and laughed about old times. Then other students found me. Then business associates. Then friends from church. And kids I grew up with. Even my sister (who's not computer savvy) joined. (In the pic at left are Nicole Ciner Baker, Jack Jernigan, and Tina Gilreath Pollard. Nicole and Tina were in my math class my first year of teaching in 1985.)

Never a substitute for interpersonal relationships, Facebook has become "connection central" for so many. It's wonderful to reconnect with other people, rekindling old relationships, and to find new ones. I have been blessed.

Probably one of the greatest blessings from Facebook has been reconnecting with former students. As a young, first-year teacher at New Kent High School near Richmond, Virginia, I had a desperate need to succeed. Being 23 with an 18-year-old appearance didn't help me to convey the serious demeanor I tried to possess.

A few months ago I received a Facebook invite to a New Kent High School Facebook Reunion at The Tobacco Company in Richmond. I was the only teacher there. It was great to see Tina, Karen, Stuart, Jeff, Shelly, Nicole, Wendy, Donna, and other students I taught in Math class. Tina loves to tell the story about her last day of her senior year. She had been late so many times that I sent her to In School Suspension (ISS) to serve out her sentence. We laughed and laughed about that. And we're still laughing about it.

Yes, those were good times. And while it's been great to enjoy reconnecting with people on Facebook, I enjoy the people I connect with every day. My family, friends and clients mean the world to me. You all are very special and I'm glad I know you. I'm also glad that you impact my life in so many positive ways. For this, I am very grateful.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Keeping Your Home In Great Shape

It's that time of year again! Now that the rain has subsided and the weather is still nice, it's time to get down and dirty to get some serious work done around the house. Unlike vehicles, homes don't come with an Owner's Manual to help us keep in good running order, so it's up to us to figure out what to do.

Old Republic Home Protection is the home warranty provider that I recommend to every client, whether buyer or seller. ORHP stands behind their commitment to homeowners by providing the quickest and best service when needed. Whenever a buyer or seller has had a home warranty issue, ORHP is right there to take care of it, no hassles involved. And what makes it even easier for my clients is their Senior Account Manager, Cameron Foster. If a question ever comes up, Cameron is there to resolve the issue.

Old Republic goes the extra mile. One of the things they provide is a Homeowner's Tip Guide to help homeowners take care of their homes. As a help to you, I've included it HERE. The Tip Guide covers topics such as how to inspect your home, the monthly services that are needed, and more. It's the Bible of home maintenance and it's yours just for clicking HERE. You can print it, share it or even save it as a file on your computer.

One of my Facebook friends, Trey Pearson, is hilarious when he talks about himself as the owner his own home. He says, "I don't know anything about home improvement, but I live in a house that needs an owner who can do home improvement." Honestly, I think that's true of most homeowners, so that's why I've included the Homeowner's Tip Guide just for you.

If you're looking for a real estate agent who sincerely cares about you and your home, give me a shout. Let's talk about what we can do, together, to get your home sold at the price, terms and conditions that are acceptable to you.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Tennessean Reports Home Prices Falling

The Tennessean reported today that home prices are falling. You can read the full article HERE. I'd love to know what you think about this article.

Also, take a look at the message board responses. You can find mine - I'm Realtor_Jack.

Road Trip!

AAA estimates that 32.4 million people will travel at least 50 miles away from home for Memorial Day weekend this year. That number is up 1.5% from last year. Are you going to be some of those 32.4 million people? If so, here are some suggestions for trips near and far:

SAN DIEGO - My favorite left coast city in the continental US. There's so much to do there: the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Padres (at home Memorial Day weekend), LegoLand (in Carlsbad), the reefs and shopping at quaint little places in La Jolla, Balboa Park, the Gaslamp District, and Sea World. Not far away is the Mexican border (passports are now required for entry into Mexico and back into the US). You can get great deals on sterling silver for that special someone and you can also browse the Mexican shops in Tijuana and Rosarita Beach.

WILLIAMSBURG, VIRGINIA - Step back into history in this 1770s colonial village. Original and restored buildings are hosted by costumed 'interpreters'. Enjoy the sites, sounds and smells of 18th century living. Also nearby are Jamestown and Yorktown. Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement and Yorktown is where civil war battles were fought. Only a short 10 to 11 hour drive from Nashville, it's perfect for a long weekend. When you're in Williamsburg, don't forget the gingerbread cookies at The Raleigh Tavern Bakery.

FALL CREEK FALLS, TENNESSEE - My favorite spot to hike, backpack and camp in Tennessee. Only about a 75-minute drive from Nashville. For those who don't want to tote a 30 pound pack on their backs, there are campsites you can rent for a night or longer. Complete with fire pit, you can enjoy your freshly grilled hot dogs and s'mores sitting around the campfire at night. You can also wander through the nature museum there and enjoy the maps of the area. Breathtaking views of the falls are worth the overnight stay in a tent.

HOT SPRINGS, ARKANSAS - One of my favorite places to visit, Hot Springs is loaded with history. Once known as the 'Gangster Capital of the South', you'll find the The Gangster Museum of America interesting as it cites places where Al Capone and other famous gangsters owned and spent their time. You can also enjoy a massage and bath at one of the local bath houses, searching for quartz crystals, enjoying meals at (my favorite barbecue place) McClard's Bar-B-Q, see the boyhood home of former president Bill Clinton, and more. Only five hours from Nashville, it's a unexpected Arkansas jewel.

CHICAGO - One of my favorite cities to visit (and I lived there, too), is Chicago. Only eight hours by car, this incredible city has more to do than you have time or money for. You can start your tour with the Sears or Hancock buildings, the Navy Pier, State Street shopping, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry, the American Girl Place (museum), Shedd's Aquarium, or Grant Park. The Cubs aren't in town Memorial Day weekend, but the White Sox are. And if you're looking for great places to eat, you'll need to try Chicago pizza at Edwardo's, hot dogs at Portillo's, and an authentic diner experience at Ed Debevic's on Wells Street. You can't go wrong with Chicago.

Can't decide what to do or need someplace less expensive? Then check out
NASHVILLE. The Grand Ole Opry is a sure bet on the weekend nights, and the Grand Ole Opry Museum is nearby. You can always take in a trip to one of the lakes or just enjoy time away from home at a local hotel. Anything to get that much needed break from the daily routine.

Wherever you go and whatever you do, enjoy .....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Everyone Needs Insurance - Check This Out!

You've had the same insurance agent for the last few years. At the time you bought your house (or moved into your rental), you were happy with him. The rate seemed fair and he was a nice guy. Why change something that works, right? Wrong!

Just like we need to change the batteries in our smoke detectors, we need to have an annual insurance check-up. Do you have enough coverage? What is your deductible? Can I afford the deductible if something should happen? Is your house in a flood zone? Are you receiving a discount because your home and auto are with the same insurer? And finally, what kind of service are you receiving from your agent?

For every mortgage lender who asks me to refer them, I receive the same request from an insurance agent. Chris Wilson never asked me to refer him; I just wanted to, so I have. With clients who has shopped their insurance quotes with him, Chris has done better every time.

Chris is a no-nonsense insurance agent. His firm, Adams Financial Strategies, an agency of Farmers Insurance Group, provides home, renters, auto, health and life insurance. Not only can Chris provide you with the best insurance rates and great service, he can also help you with investments as well.

Chris is a man of honesty and integrity. He does what he says and he says what he does. You'll never go wrong with Chris.

To contact Chris, you can reach him at:

Chris Wilson, Agent
Farmers Insurance Group
209 10th Avenue South, Suite 431
Nashville, TN 37213

Office: 615.627.4678
Fax: 615.577.4678

To My Mom - Happy Mother's Day!

She has never served on a board of directors, flown in a space shuttle, or even worked in a hospital. But she has impacted the lives of more people than even the greatest of the great. This great lady is our mother, Betsy Olive Jernigan.

Growing up on a tobacco farm in Garner, North Carolina (now a suburb of Raleigh), mom picked tobacco, sorted through the leaves to remove the tobacco worms, bundled leaves together, and even hung them in the tobacco barn to dry. While it wasn't the most fun job, she endured it and today she is thankful for what farm life taught her. In turn, she has taught my sister, Susan, and me to work hard and to stick out tough times.

While growing up, Susan and I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that our mother loved us. She raised us to believe that loyalty was essential in relationships, that we needed to do our best in all things, and to love people beyond ourselves. She also taught us that Christianity was real and that trusting God, regardless of what the circumstances appeared to be, was worth it in the long run.

After high school, mom earned her business degree from Mars Hill College in the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina. After graduation, she was recruited to First Baptist Church in Suffolk, Virginia (near Virginia Beach) where she met and married our dad. Not long after, I came along, then Susan followed a few years later.

Mom could have worked all of her married life, but she chose to stay home with us. Whenever we got home, we knew she would be there, waiting for us. We had a steady supply of cookies and Kool-Aid for friends who came over, and she always welcomed others into our home.

Eventually she did go to work - as a preschool teacher, a church secretary, and a high school guidance registrar. And when she finally retired, we were all moved to tears as the testimonies of friends and family revealed her true character.

Other people have noticed the imperfection in her upper lip, but what they don't know is that she was born with a cleft lip and palate. She endured 14 surgeries at Duke University Hospital prior to age 21 in the days when reconstructive surgery was not what it is today. Susan and I never noticed the imperfection until we were much older. What we did notice was her unconditional love for us and her desire to teach us how to live.

Our mother taught us to be strong and courageous, to be loyal no matter how much it cost us, to love people beyond ourselves, to take time for others, and to put God first in all things. For me, her life lessons have paid off.

As a grandmother to our children, Annie and Hunter, and to Susan's and John's daughter, Caroline, Mimi (as she is affectionately known) is the epitome of grandmotherhood. She loves spending time with her grandchildren, always listening to them and talking with them. At 72, she still plays with Caroline and "hangs out" with Annie and Hunter. All three of them get excited when they get to go to Mimi's house, looking forward to being with her.

While our mom has taught us great lessons in life, I believe the greatest lesson is that she loved our dad through thick and thin. And it was the greatest gift she could have ever given us. Thanks, Mom! Happy Mother's Day! We love you.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sensational Cinco de Mayo

When we got to Fran's for dinner Tuesday night, the theme, of course, was Cinco de Mayo. We knew the food would be great - chicken enchiladas, fresh salsa and tortillas, refried beans, black bean and corn pico de gallo, and that incredible cherry dessert. What we didn't know was about the entertainment.

After dinner, we all filed down to the basement to watch Fran's Tivo'd "American Idol", but what we got was live entertainment instead. It was dark, but we managed to see the strobe light and the multi-colored disco lights. After taking our seats, we were introduced to "Gregarino", our live entertainment for the evening.

Gregarino started his lip-syncing act with "Dancing on the Ceiling" and ended with "Your Momma Don't Dance and Your Daddy Don't Rock 'n Roll". In between we all joined in the karaoke act and sang along to oldies such as "Summer Loving", "Sexy Thing", "Mustang Sally", "We've Only Just Begun" and a few others. Fran, Dee and Vicky even got up and danced. Yeah, we enjoyed our 'oldies', but hey, when you're over 40, you've earned it!

This is our last month of dinners together until the fall, so thanks, Fran, for a great meal. And thanks to Gregarino (aka Greg Meador) for the incredible entertainment. (Note: If you'd like to book Gregarino for your next event, give me a shout.)

When looking for a professional real estate agent who enjoys working with people and who can get your home sold at the price, terms and conditions that are acceptable to you, give me a call. My exclusive marketing plan to buyers and agents is second to none. And when looking to buy a home in today's market, I can help you with that as well.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Lasting Legacy

Our pastor's message yesterday prompted me to think about the future. Not just about 'who gets what' when I leave this world, but about the legacy I would leave my children.

During his message on "Leaving a Legacy" in yesterday's service, Phil Wilson asked if anyone had been impacted by someone else (who is now deceased). Immediately my thoughts raced to my grandmother, Annie Maude Brock Jernigan. As kids, my sister, Susan, and I called her "Gaga". As teenagers, we shortened her name to the cooler form, "Gags".

Gags was a very happy lady. Overweight most of her life, she was the model grandmother for the 1960s and 1970s. Along with her rounded body, she sported swollen ankles that puffed out of the top of her patent leather low-heeled shoes, silver horn-rimmed glasses and that ever popular blue-white hair. All of that was set off by a starched dress that was belted at the waist. She was a product of her generation, looking a little older than she really was.

She was a jolly soul, and many times, when she wore her mu-mus, Susan and I would jump up in her lap, only to slide down her lap and legs, just like being on a playground slide. She had little round hands that would find their way to our cheeks. While she patted our faces, she would say, "God love you". She meant it. At every weekend visit, she would sit us down right next to her and ask us to tell her about US! She listened intently as though she was at the most important meeting in the world.

Summer vacations sent us packing all the way to Gags' house in Suffolk, Virginia. Even though Suffolk was not the hot spot of the state, Gags's house was a true vacation. She did anything we wanted and went anywhere we wanted to go. We ate hot dogs at Grunelwald's, roller skated up and down the sidewalk in front of her house, went to get ice cream cones from High's, played Solitaire and Aggravation, toured the city and the country, plummeted through old family photos while listening to Gags tell us stories of the "good old days", and fried up doughnuts made from biscuits out of a can.

Of course, these trips wouldn't be complete without having to go with her to church on Sunday mornings (we were there two weekends), visit my grandfather's grave, and watch her game shows and soaps ("The Price is Right", "The Young and the Restless", and "The Edge of Night") with her every day.

These memories really mean nothing to anyone else. But to me, they provided the luxury of a world that I could look forward to for at least one week every summer. The things we did together were not that significant, but the fact that we were loved beyond description did -- and still does!

Gaga was authentic, real, down-to-earth, courageous, unselfish, and she made everyone feel very special. When she died back in 1990, the church was full of people she had known for most of her life. Frequent comments after the service were, "She was a great lady", "Maude was a real Christian", "Maude walked the walk", and "You had such a fine mother and grandmother". Comments like those are fairly commonplace at southern funerals, but not this time. I knew, by the looks on those faces, that what they said was straight from their hearts.

She didn't have much money, and we always joked about her wrapping our Christmas gifts in white tissue paper with the edges sealed up with Christmas Seals. But we knew that she loved us and meant it every single time she said it. Gaga was as close to a real-life hero as anyone could be.

So what's my legacy going to be? When I eventually pass out of this life, what will I leave my children? Money? No. A great house? No. Tremendous investments? No. Those things just don't matter. What I hope to leave is their knowing that their dad loved them more than anything else in this world, that he meant what he said, that he was strong and courageous, that he stood up for what was right and what he believed in, and that he was a man who sought to live a life of integrity and honesty.

What legacy are you building for your loved ones today? Maybe you haven't thought about it. If you don't have children to leave a legacy to, there's someone's life you can impact - what about them? We all need heroes.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Great Gifts for Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day. Well, it's actually in nine days - May 10. What are you getting your mom this year? And how about the mother of your children - have you thought about her gift yet?

Last year I recommended getting a gift card for that special lady in your life. This year, with the economic crunch so many of us are feeling, maybe a little splurge for that special mom is just the ticket.

The typical flowers and candy probably won't say, "you're special" like something a little less conventional; something that takes time to find. My suggestion this year is a fun gift - something from The Popcorn Factory.

A place where I worked after seminary, The Popcorn Factory has lots of fun gifts. There's everything from tins of popcorn to incredibly beautiful (and tasty) baskets, towers and even the conventional candy and flowers (from sister companies Fannie May and 1-800-flowers, respectively).

Why not try something unique and fun this Mother's Day. Three mothers I was close to always loved their gifts from The Popcorn Factory. They were intrigued, amazed and mesmerized by their uniqueness. For more information, click on THE POPCORN FACTORY and you'll be redirected right to their site.

To work with a real estate agent who is as innovative in his approach to marketing your home for results as well as he is innovative in the selection of memorable gifts, please give me a call. You won't go wrong. My goal is to get your home sold at the price, terms and conditions that are acceptable to you.