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.