Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Okay. Last post of 2013 and looking forward to a busy, happy, fun 2014 with my new location at CB Prime Realty with the main office in Carbondale.

Lots of interesting data being spit out by Zillow with predictions like:

"We’ll see a rise in mortgage rates.

According to our data, mortgage rates are predicted to hit 5% by the end of 2014. While that’s still low, it’s up from the 3-4% range in 2013, making it more expensive for people to finance a home."


"Homeownership will decline.

Zillow data predicts that homeownership rates will fall below 65% in 2014, the lowest since the mid-1990s. However, the easy lending standards we saw during the housing bubble led to higher-than-normal homeownership, and in the recovery we’re seeing ownership rates normalize. Another issue impacting the decline in ownership is the large number of Gen Y-ers who are renters. This group is the next generation of homeowners, but they’re seeing high unemployment and low wages, which will reduce the number of first-time homebuyers in 2014."

I believe I've already starting seeing these trends. In 2012, with a Presidential election, sales were effected negatively with bank loans becoming harder to process. In 2013, government loans tightened their underwriting so USDA loans, especially USDA Direct, became arduous to achieve. I didn't do any USDA Directs in 2013, mostly because the guidelines became stricter and my folks that could qualify? I urged them to use bankers who could put them in a FHA product.

It has become harder and harder for the first time homebuyer and, in 2014, we're going to see more changes to USDA loans and their underwriting. For the first time, too, we might even see areas in SoIL along the Route 13 corridor excluded from these loans.

All in  all, if you're thinking of selling your home, you're going to have to be careful to screen those who wish to see it. Qualifications for loans will be tighter with more processing and underwriting delays. Even more of a reason to list your house with a Realtor. Seriously.

And for those who are buying: The inventory is still really low in SoIL. If you find a house you can see yourself living in, even if its not perfect...buy it or someone else will.

Buyers get qualified. NOT pre-qualified...I mean, go do the loan app and get qualified. I had two deals die in 2013 because the loan fell apart after these buyers handed over a pre-qualified letter.

Believe me, I will be calling bankers about "pre-qual" letters when I get them. I will be looking out for my clients best interests when I represent the seller. Contracts will stall until I get some assurances these loans are good and the banker is standing with the buyers.

And BUYERS -- don't waste a Realtor's time! If you can't buy now, say so in the first call. Tell me about it and, if I'm doing broker's views, I will call and see if you can tag along. But you are buying my gas. It is a good way to make up you're mind what you really, really want or what you won't do.

Buyer, you may also be surprised at the loan options available. That its easier to get into a house that you might "settle" for right now, live in and fix up with plans to sell it in a year or two. I can help with that as I know what sells, what's not worth the investment or what is worth the investment. As I've said before -- Some of the HGTV shows aren't all bad about what to fix and what not to bother with.

Sometimes, Mr & Ms First Timer, the closing won't give you a huge wad of cash to pay into the next house....but what you've built is credit. You might even put more money into a house and have to bring cash to the table to unload it. But you've built your credit up to the point, that now, you can get that loan for the house you want.

Look at it this way: Buy the fix-up, imperfect house; fix up the majors & make it cute. We then sell it and you're now able to get the bigger loan on the house you love. You didn't lose any money, you built your credit better and faster than paying rent plus you had the added tax benefits of home ownership.

Zillow says home prices will increase.

"Home prices will increase.

Zillow data predicts that home prices will rise 3% in 2014, building on the 5% rise in national home prices we saw in 2013. However, due to higher home prices, a rise in mortgage rates, and increased home inventory, prices aren’t expected to rise aggressively."

I'm not at all sure that's going to be true in SoIL. I am 100% sure that houses priced right for the market will sell. Overpricing your house will cause it to sit on the market longer....no matter how wonderful it is.

All-in-all, buying and selling property is one of the most stressful things you can do. Don't try and do it alone...choose me to help you. I'm fun, I'm experienced and I'm going to be on your side. And I need your listing!!


Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Year, New Attitude


My new website is up and running....I'm chasing after it with hopes of making my web-a-tude more worthy.

I got a new Galaxy Tab 3 phone "system" with Bluetooth headset ((as here in IL after January 1, ya gots to be hands free whilst driving)).

So I took my first "selfie" with it on Xmas day. My talented niece Christa captured the other shot.

My other talented niece, Celeste, captured this one (above). I'm using it on my business cards but I've also gotten a good tip about an online site for those so I'm only getting 500 to start. Then I can refresh those photos as I go. Because as you know: I hate having that one photo out there forever. Ugh.

Christmas is still drying up. Oldest son, Alex, was here for a much-too-short visit:

He's been out in Arizona working on Cisco Systems for Maricopa County. He wasn't sure he was going to go back and wanted to cut our visit short so he could go back to Ashton IT Solutions main office.

That's okay. I have plenty of new gadgets, webinars and learning/training going on with the new move to Carbondale Coldwell Banker Prime.

And, by the way, the first week of December I finally finished up my Graduate Realtor Institute or  GRI...courses are a series of three and you must complete all three to gain the certification. http://www.realtor.org/designations-and-certifications/gri-designation/value-of-a-gri-designation
It is kind of big deal in the real estate world and it should be to anyone thinking of listing or buying property.

Especially since a lot of Realtors are not carrying any college credits except for their realtor's license requirements. GRI brings up the scale of knowledge, the credential, the ethics, and the value of that realtor's licensure: it is kinda a big deal for the consumer, too.

We only have a couple of days left of 2013; I'm so looking forward to this new year. Out with the old chaos, in with a new techno-savvy and forward-thinking management style of the Jackson office. In 2013, I sold property from Murphysboro to Mt Vernon (($1.5 million)), I sold farms and I sold in urban neighborhoods; I made my goal of becoming a REGIONAL agent. My car, my phone is my mobile office and this year, in 2014, I will expand that more than ever with the new managing brokerage and new technology like mobile hotspot and boost battery pack to take my laptop presentations to clients with ease. This broker/owner wants me more mobile and supports that 110 percent with office support staff and technology, innovative ways to capture leads, continuing education, and more advertising support: all the big, key, push/pull points to propel my goals.

It is a whole lot more than just jibber-jabber. I can do that all by myself...hee hee.

2014 will be the year of action, activity and connectivity. Using my natural skill set with new enhancements.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

New work profiles and photos

Okay readers, I'm sorry for neglecting you. So I guess I need to bring you up to speed with what's what with the Reluctant Broker:

First -- I've moved my license...again. This time, though, I did stay in the brand. Just moved to a different, more progressive and more aggressive brokerage: Coldwell Banker Prime Realty. www.cbprimerealty.com

Check the website and you'll see I've moved up. We're going all mobile and touch screens, too, soon. Broker/owner is Greg and he's positive-attitude central: tech/savvy, hands-on with training and presentation, AND is pro-training outside the office. He's on board with advertising, blogging, and aggressively going mobile. I can't make any money if I'm not moving among the public...he wants all his broker/agents out there moving, networking, talking to people. Big plus for this guy? He's a gym/workout routine machine.


Now on to homework assignments from the new broker/owner: I had to profile myself on Zillow and Trulia. Never been one not to like to write about my favorite subject....me and mine. Here it is:

"Totally awesome woman who has travelled around the country with a broadcasting career doing the news/talk/morning shows in various places like Anchorage, Alaska and Buffalo, New York even some freelance voice work in Canada.
Moved back "home" to Southern Illinois in 2009...where I stumbled my way into a new life and a new career in REAL ESTATE, which, I find has a lot of the same elements of my previous occupation as it is all about the hunt.
Hunting is all about preparation. No hunter goes into the field, sits down; just waiting and hoping for game. Anyone who's ever hunted for game ((or even bargains while shopping)) knows you have to know where to look, you have scout the trails ahead of the season, and you have to plan.
In Alaska, I was fortunate enough to be included while hunting moose. Believe me, you have to have a plan to hunt an animal that big because once you shoot it, you have to pack it out of the area before the bears come take it from you.
Real Estate is about the planning. It is not just sticking a sign in the yard and hoping someone comes along. There's a campaign with advertising, networking, and diversity. It is a moose hunt.
Real Estate for the buyer is hunting a totally different animal. More like hunting geese, quail or doves. Some agents just blast away hoping to hit a bird. I take a different approach by digging into my buyers preference: likes, dislikes, hopes, and dreams. Then when we're ready to take a shot we are sure to get our golden goose.
2009 - 2011 Mt Vernon Downtown Development Committee, Mt Vernon, IL
2009 - 2011 Granada Preservation Committee, Mt Vernon, IL
2011 Voted "Best of the Best" in Real Estate, Mt Vernon Registered News.
2012 - Charter Member Williamson/Jackson County Sunset Rotary
2013 Earned GRI accreditation"

I'm sure I'll be editing it. I'm sure Greg will be editing it.

But for now. For this day, for this time...this is me.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Government Loans

It has become apparent that this is the year of the slow loan process.

Yes. There are government loans out there where you do not have to put any money down but if you take advantage of this? You will pay in other ways.

Right now, today, I have two such deals going where buyers are getting a USDA loan. No money down and that's fantastic. But....

Be prepared to wait and be prepared to do extraordinary things.

First case is a Fannie Mae house with a USDA 100% guaranteed loan. These used to sail right through but over the last 24 months? Nope.

Just. Nope.

The process has become a lengthy one. First with home inspections. Then with "fixes" then the bank sends an appraiser. That appraiser will fill out forms for USDA. Appraiser will "ding" the property for things like gutters, pressure relief valves on water heaters, GFI's near water (kitchens and baths) and outside, CO detectors, battery life in CO detectors and smoke detectors. This is a small list of things but these things keep coming up.

So....sellers...if you want it gone, do these things! If you aren't handy, call a Mr. Fix-it and get it done!

These 'issues' can hold up the loan. These fixes have to be fixed before the loan gets sent to processing.

In Springfield.

Allow 14 business days.

These are the things your banker should be telling you but, nope. That's left up to me to be the bearer of bad tidings.

People, these loans are a good product. They allow you to get into your house with no money down but, sweetie, honey, baby, lovey, you are going to have to wait for that loan.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Posts from now and forever

Holy crap its July and this is my first post to you! So...

It is a passionately cloudy day today with more blustery and lusty storms approaching. Its dark, the winds are starting to howl and there are rumbles of thunder. <sigh> ((fun fact: this type of sentence structure is called 'puffing' or 'puffery' in the real estate business...so those little 'fixer-uppers' that need "TLC" but have warnings about rotted floors and black mold forests on the walls??))

A lot of the houses I had contracts on have closed or started down the "pending" slopes. Still working a few corrections-inspections with USDA and more than one stubborn seller. Had a contract collapse because a buyer's job disappeared. And then it was July.

May and June were more moderate this year than last with temps staying out of the 90's for the most part which I believe aided getting things done. Then we hit a wall at the end of June with every living banker in SoIL going on holiday with at least 67 percent of the title company closers.

Now into July with strong storms -- really wet this year! -- and hot, humid days. Plus the wrinkles of higher interest rates. Yes, we had a good long run with next to nothing interest rates but now they have started to pop up a couple of points overnight sending some buyers into panics.

This happens. The housing market in SoIL is rebounding. We had BIDDING WARS on properties last season and started the early spring with more of the same. Yet...there are those buyers who insist they know better. That housing markets are still dropping, that we haven't bottomed out yet, that we are living in some other state than Illinois, apparently.

I will say this once again. Slowly so you can repeat it to your foolish, dullard friends: STOP. WATCHING. NATIONAL. (ESPECIALLY FOX!! WHICH IS NOT NEWS BUT TALK/ENTERTAINMENT/OPINIONS!!). Again...STOP. WATCHING. NATIONAL. NEWS. FOR. YOUR. LOCAL. ECONOMIC. NEWS. Especially about real estate markets. Just quit.

Ask a local real estate broker. Even the most silly, fluffed-up, over-inflated, drama-mongering, and negative of the bunch will be able to pull up reliable and recent data from the LOCAL MLS system to give you the real, accurate and daily rundown of what's for sale, what's pending, what's sold, how long it was on the market, who bought it and for how much. Remember, too, as braggarts are so fond of telling me...not all sales are recorded in the MLS. Yes, Charlotte, there are private sales recorded at the courthouses that are not in the MLS. For that my office has to trot on down the courthouse and take a peep once or twice month. In some counties, like Jefferson, you can buy a print out of  last month's recorded deed transactions. TaDAAAAAAHHHH...all the info your little heart desires.

Private sales. I do watch these with interest. Between friends and family the price of land/houses can be as little as you can imagine but there is also some tough love transactions out there. I'd bow out of a family that raked me over in some of these deals. That's because the average citizen doesn't know squat about what their property is worth.

Oh, I know they know what they'd like to get. Which is very different from what it will bring in the open market. Yes. I do comparable searches to see what's what. It is not pulled out of my butt. I've actually had several classes by some very "accredited" and "learned" specialists. You have to compare APPLES to other APPLES. Not apples to imagined golden apples from heaven. Using actual and accurate information gleaned from actual and accurate sources very unlike Cousin Bubba or Freddy down at the Circle K.

Which is actually kinda sad, really. I come across folks all the time who proceed to tell me how the real estate market is because Bubba down at the bar told 'em so. Or they heard from someone, who knows someone, who was dating someone who read something somewhere about it.

Hopefully one of those someones will stumble across this blog.

<sigh>  I had no pictures of apples by the way.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fabulous Older Homes

Let's recap what's popping this month:

June 1st -- my first ever, most wonderful radio open house broadcast live on MAGIC 95.1.
I really got a lot of calls, texts and emails from the radio broadcast. Still getting a lot of wash from it and that's the point. I have listings that need to be sold, people.
Watch for more radio...we're going to do more with MAGIC and Z.
Geesh...lots of rain this year to offset the drought from last year! Farmers having a hard time getting in the fields and home sellers are having an awful time trying to keep the lawns mowed around properties.
The listings in SoIL are scarce and, mostly, the majority are older homes. Some in great shape but need a touch of paint.
Still, its a good time to lock in the deal before interest rates really zoom up.
For the most part I've been kept jumpin' this month trying to close a deal in Scheller with a contract I wrote in December. See? That 45 days to close your contract looks sweet now, doesn't it?
The Scheller deal involved a lot of survey/non-survey issues - Plat Act and Warranty Deed - ugh. I did tell you I got into this business not to do paperwork and I am not a lawyer!!
We closed it Monday, June 24, and the buyers and sellers couldn't be happier.

This is what a closing looks like. The people change and the venue changes but its always a group sitting around signing papers. This is a life event for a lot of people. One of the biggest ones; like marriage or the birth of a child. And it looks pretty much like this.

Two other closings happened in short order for me this month. A couple sold their first house on Friday and bought their second house yesterday, Wednesday. You hear a lot of about deals where the closing on the first house and the second house happen on the same day. I really tried to get this done. Had it scheduled but the second house was a short sale, and, you guessed it: one of the big banks was involved so dragged it out.

Even my best efforts couldn't get them everything they wished for. <sigh>



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Real time real estate

Life is not a reality TV show.

In real estate I hear about HGTV all the time. I even started watching the channel so I could better estimate what expectations were.

In House Hunters we have a thirty minute search of properties which yields a "find" and a "decision" but we don't follow that purchase to the closing table. We have no idea how many days, weeks, months were consumed while filming the search as I totally doubt that only three properties were viewed. It is good TV to show us the final three but in real life? Depending on the market, buyers will have more options or no options at all.

I like Love it or List it because the realtor on that program does start to show you how difficult it is to find some one's dream location. That program also starts to show how difficult it is to reconstruct a house. The contractor almost always finds some major "issue" that needs to be solved eating away much of the reno budget. But, see...that's what real life is really like. In reno jobs you must expect set backs and budget sucks. Otherwise you are just living in Oz.

Property Brothers shows us some real life negotiations and how they fall through, plus, more importantly, this program shows some hard reality with pricing....sometimes you have to pay more than you wished to get the house you want. I'm actually partial to this show, too, because we always see a diva whining about the cost of the fixer-upper they are going to buy. "Why's it so expensive? I don't wanna pay more than this. This place is a dump." Yeah, well, that's what the market will bear, sweetie, so either pay up or keep renting.

If you aren't an HGTV watcher but want to buy some real estate, I do suggest you start to watch these. Also take the time for House Hunters International -- there's a wake up for you. Other countries where people live without central air and heat, where water heaters have to be turned on, where there is no such thing as a Master Bedroom much less a Master Suite. This show, I like to point out to my clients, is more like house hunting in SoIL. Because there are plenty of little houses in our small towns and cities that have a lot of charm but no master bedroom and no dining room. You have to make do with what's there in your price range.

Especially now.

Interest rates took a big leap up over the weekend. Starting about Wednesday of last week they started to climb and now they are hovering around 5%. This is going to be the new norm. These low interest rates where not going to last forever and those who waited? Maybe waited too long.

If you keep waiting; riding that fence waiting for even lower prices: ((foreclosures and short sales are getting scarce and, although you will still get a steal, you will not get a $200,000 house for $20,000 anymore)) AND you will pay a higher interest rate for the money you borrow. Housing prices are going up.

Bidding wars are a real thing now, not just in California, but here in SoIL.

Interest rates bottomed and are rising again.

If you want that house -- be prepared to buy it.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Happy Anniversay to Me.

I'm starting my 5th year as a realtor.

It is a career path I'd never imagined for myself but one that sorta chose me. I had a good run as a news gatherer and I enjoyed (mostly) that lifestyle. Never knowing what the day would bring, having lots of irons in the fire all at once and everything seeming to "pop" at the same time.

I liked that. NO. That's not right. I cherished that. Was proud of my ability and agility -- able to stir all the pots at once, decide on the spot what was priority and what could stew just a minute longer for a fuller flavor.

I held on to that career fearing a very dull life without it. I really didn't know what my particular skill set could be used for once the hunt for news was over.

In real estate I have found a home for my skills. I didn't think I'd enjoy this career;  had felt I was settling for a lesser life. I was...more than reluctant...I was recalcitrant, contumacious. All those steadfast, hard, and stubborn reactions usually reserved for uncooperative or hostile interviews. I girded my loins; marching into this new career prepared to do what was required and no more.


I really do enjoy this game. A new friend has told me I am a finder:  Someone who finds what others lack, what others need, what others hide.

Because real estate is so much more than finding a house for a buyer or a buyer for a listing. Real estate is about finding a home for someone; finding a way for them to actually close the deal.

This new career of mine, one that I've finally embraced, is about solutions to problems.

Now, I have never liked being the go-to for 20 questions. Ask my friends who pepper me with their questions! I shut the whole thing down; will clam up to the point of either leaving the room, or, if unable to escape, I will fall asleep. ((One of my friends told me this was passive-aggressive)) Personally I believe folks get caught up in asking questions, not hearing the answers, so over stimulate themselves by asking more questions. Watch your over-questioning ((passive/aggressive)) friend/family sometime and see if they don't just get more and more giddy/gleeful/rabid as they ask over and over and over and over....zzzzzzz...huh? What?

I steadfastly believe if you can't get some answers within 3 questions you are -- Asking the wrong questions. I am faithful to the query of Why? But with real estate I've learned to branch out to the arena of What?

As in: What are you looking for? What have you done to secure financing?

If you can answer those, I'm your realtor. We'll find you home.

If you're a seller I ask: Why and when. Then we move into how much and how long. Pricing a listing to sell quickly is different from pricing it to get what the seller wants. I get to explain the market, the trends I see. I take the pulse of the market all time -- I chat with people in supermarkets and gas stations. Strangers will tell me the most personal details; while queued up, waiting for a cashier.

These past few weeks I've been working the phone as four deals were teetering on closing this month. One I have been working since December and I'm pleased to report I have a close date next Monday! Two deals where penciled in for Friday. One has been moved to next Wednesday. <sigh> One was scheduled for the last Friday of this month and has been moved into July.

All the while I've been showing some property to three different clients, working the marketing on all my listings, negotiating sales contracts on several deals, and adding a listing last week.

I like this pace. Its almost newsroom quality timing.

Crafty Red Fox

As summer solstice approaches....

Uh, oh..and yikes! Solstice is tomorrow! And not a minute too soon 'cuz right now I can use the extra daylight! Yes, my days are that long!

Here's my newest listing:


Monday, June 10, 2013

Rally 'round

Not a whole lot of real estate info in this offering. Over the weekend my Rotary club put on a Youth Rally.

We had severe competition for the weekend: sunny day, fishing, boating, a circus was in town, several towns had festivals, carnivals and car/vehicle shows, the local motorcycle shop had a huge promotion involving...what else? Helicopters! With motorcycles! Sheesh.

But we had a strong showing for a start up event. Kids from 11 - 17 showed, signed in and selected their choices of workshops.
We made some mistakes (ordered too much pizza) and had some really great insights provided by kids and volunteers.

Watch out for next year's event: Jackson Williamson County Sunset Rotary Rocks.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fighting the price

Appraisers appraise.

"Oh they just put those together to match the contract price." said a buyer of mine.

Sigh. If only.

Here in Illinois, Southern Illinois especially, if you have a business practice that, shall we say, swings loosely on the hinges? Some will use your services just to get the number they want but sooner or later these shenanigans will catch up to you. This goes for licensed inspectors, appraisers, contractors, mold mitigation....expands into other licensed professions like doctors, nurses, cosmetologists, Realtors. We are all licensed by the Great State of Illinois. We paid for college, training, fees to get to take the test, more fees to get the gosh-darn license printed and sent by the state then more fees to boards and associations to be recognized and legal. We then pay dues, required monthly or quarterly rents/deposits, and, last but not least, insurances. Sure. Easy as pie. Commit a felony for you just to collect a fee, sure, I'll get right on that.

Sure. Yes. It can be done. Just like you can find a licensed physician to write any or all 'scrpts for you; you can find a licensee to mock-up an appraisal for you. Money always finds the ones who will.

Putting those licensees into that category with Dr. Nick or Conrad Murray shames all with the M.D. after their name and a Caduceus on their business card. Lumping me in with frauds bothers me, too.

Because that's what that phrase "match the contract price" means to me; that these appraisers are all frauds and real estate is a racket. We're all in kahoots to swindle poor suckers out of their money; little better than used car salesmen. Little faith is put into the collective education. We are not one of those states that allow the weekend diploma mills to set up in hotels, where candidates are given the answers for a "proctored - rhymes with doctored" test Saturday night.




  1. Wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.
  2. A person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities.


cheat - deceit - deception - swindle - humbug - fake


Holy crap!

Is that what the general public really thinks about Realtors? I can lose my license, be criminally charged with felony activity and be sent off to jail. So I can sell you a house?? Believe me. If I was the type person to do this type of illegal enterprise I would not be setting up shop in SoIL where the average price of a house is about $120,000. (Yahuh...with a split on six or seven percent commission -- or less!! -- in some cases because there are some unbelievably cheap bastards out there). You'd really need to put another zero in that loop and then I'd still have a problem because...see? That behavior is wrong.

I've always been of the opinion guys like Dr. Nick and Conrad Murray get swept up in the fame. They aren't famous but enjoy being around the famous. They get off on being needed and on call to a celebrated figure. I get it. These guys are groupies!! Just like the girls/boys who shag the boys/girls in the band. I had a modicum of success in radio -- people seek you out when you are top-of-mind news. They send you flowers, food, free tickets to their events, invitations that wouldn't be sent if I'd been just plain ol' Rosie from SoIL. Hell, I even had a stalker!! So I get it.

Now take that back into SoIL real estate reality. No one sends me flowers unless its my birthday or it was a lovely date night. Free food comes from vendors who want to curry favor for my business referral and invitations to events come with a sponsorship fee.

Appraisers and inspectors make even less per transaction than I do. They have more transactions per week than I do but they make a set fee not a commission of the whole of the sale. All are heavily regulated and, in this little marketplace, governed by their peers! Oh, yes! There is nothing quite as tasty as the gossip about a misstep made by one of your brethren. Fabulously titillating! Oh my!

Even Realtors or inspectors who are working within the law, collect sneers from those who watch their tiptoed steps along the ledge of misrepresentation. Gossip, gossip, gossip...what the heck to you think we do in our down time?


"Oh they just put those together to match the contract price." 


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Stuff to share


Photos above are from my newest listing: 4183 Black Bird, Mulkeytown, IL.

It was a wild week; I listed two:
1101 Thomas, Carterville;

I've also, in the last 7 days, gotten a contract negotiated for my listing on Timothy: (Full Price!) We've gotten the legal done for my Scheller listing and the appraiser is due May 30th. (This one has been on my desk since December and I have high hopes it will close next month: see my blog "Pending")
The sellers of Timothy are buying a short sale. These usually take months but I heard last Thursday we've gotten a green light to close next month! ((Meanwhile Timothy's first round of inspections found some beasties...Please SoIL sellers -- get your house treated for termites because with our wet weather the beasties are busy))
I hosted my out-of-stater buyers buzz in for a round of looks. They tell me they have to find their new home because their home they are selling closes late next month. Got a call from a couple whose house I sold in 2011 - they are tired of renting and want to own again.
A closing on Friday took me to Campbell Hill, IL (On Highway 4-- I never knew this place existed so I got to see something new in my beloved SoIL.) My buyers are the couple I talked about in "Houses Are a Girl's Best Friend" -- we were delayed by a week. When closings are delayed because of wrinkles at the bank, bankers find I am better than 'Constant Contact' with emails, texts and calls. <snicker> Stalkers have nothing on me when I am bugging someone to close. Finally met the loan officer face-to-face Friday and he was quite charming after being hassled my me for more than a week.
Ended my week with a first outing with some new buyers and making appointments for next week when it all starts over again.

Today I am taking my 'day off' by updating my blog. <sigh> Like I said before...if we could only cuddle.

In the middle of all my activity I finally got the finishing touches put on my summer marketing push. Watch this space! I will be sharing my upcoming ad campaign soon!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


The time of anticipation. The time of wait-and-see. The gibbous, unbalanced, salient and giddy moments before the event: things are pending.

I've spent the last 6 months working to close a property in Scheller. 4855 N Scheller Lane: see the Virtual Tour here --


I have a personal connection with this property...it was the home of some very close friends of my daddy's, Andy and Martha. Daddy would have been 90 this past April had he lived. Daddy was younger than Andy and Martha by a few years.

Their daughter's name? Rosie -- not me -- the woman who babysat me, baked me cookies and made sure my hands were clean. My youngest son, Andy, is named for the man who built this house. Close friends of my dad's? Yep.

They built the garage first and lived there while Andy picked up a trowel and, with some help, built Martha's house, brick by brick. The pines out front? They were less than my height when planted -- I remember because I was there -- and I've been trying to sell this house since Martha died in 2009 (Andy predeceased her by several years).

Martha had her brick house. Meant to outlast her, withstand any fury mother nature could dish out, with 4 cisterns so she'd never, never, never run out of water, Dammit.

Her granddaughter inherited the place and I was tasked with selling it. And a task it was...because I truly believe Martha walked beside me sniffing out every nuance of potential buyers. Nixing the deals until a buyer met with her approval.

That house had to go to someone who not only loved it and appreciated it but someone who met Martha's standards:  Someone who could tell a good story, play a good game of cards, laugh loud at themselves, fill the house with loud friends, obnoxious relatives, arguments, opinions, regrets, redemptions but, above all, love.

Someone who could hold their liquor but not their tongue. Someone who could not only dish it out with righteousness and sass then was big enough to take it and take it with dignity and class.

It was a hard act to follow. With many not making the cut, I knew I'd found a winner when he lit a cigarette just outside the garage. A veteran of two tours in Iraq, this buyer knew to stand into the wind blowing away from the house -- which he did -- not a whiff of smoke should have come into that garage. But it did, just one little puff, almost like it was inhaled by the house;  I knew right then and there the heavy-smoking Martha had made her choice.

My buyer, a war veteran, a single father, has had hurdles to leap and challenges aplenty. But I knew Martha was pulling for him. And anyone who knew her, knew she usually got what she wanted.

We hope to close on Father's Day.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start your Engines.

This will most likely be my last weekend off. The selling season in SoIL is just about to leap into hyper drive and I'm chillaxing before the big push.

Almost like having shore leave before the tactical offensive...Semper Fi.

Anywaaaaaaaay. Here we go with the real estate stuff:

The Mother Ship has tipped me with some great advice to clients to pass along. This time the topic is bidding wars. Yes, kids, the bidding war are back and back in a big way. The days of low balling an offer are done.

Last year I was bested in bidding wars so this year I upped my game. Yeah, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

I have clients right now who are the winners of the first bidding war of my selling season. I trusted my instinct and set them up with the right tools so if it happened, we'd be ready.

Mother Ship has offered six ways to make sure you win your wars:

1. Make sure your lender and your broker (hopefully me) have a touchy-feely relationship. If you are my client, I want your lender's cellphone number. Period. End of sentence. If we can't get that then I'd strongly suggest you consider one of the half dozen lenders I have in my cell, who will take my call until way into the evening, on holidays and weekends. I want a lender for you who isn't getting paid but getting commissions on what he/she brings to the closing table.

2. If you are a cash buyer: prove it. Make sure your finance guy, lawyer, trust manager writes a letter stating your liquid assets. It is a proof of funds letter and your financial guy knows exactly what to write. Have it emailed to me so I can access it PDQ and put it in the hands of the seller's agent. This can make the difference in a bidding war. Even if your are mortgaging BUT you putting in a substantial down payment, one of these letters is priceless.

3. Be quick, be creative, be helpful. Be compassionate and kind. Sellers need to sell quickly but have nowhere to go? Offer a short term lease-back to sellers. Say you have cash; we can close in 10 days: those sellers might appreciate 30 days to move (rent free is a plus!). I've done this before in a non-bidding war situation and it works well. Or maybe the sellers have pets they need to place -- offer to help. Offer to allow the sellers to store stuff in what will now be your garage for a put-in-place and agreeable time.

4. If you really want the house have it inspected before you have a contract in place. Then your contract is not contingent on inspections. In fact, do away with any and all contingencies to be more attractive to the seller. The object here is to win the house.

5. Trust me. Give me a game plan and, if necessary, put in place an escalation clause. This is an addendum that allows me to bid for you.  Mother Ship explains: "An escalation clause is an addendum to a purchase offer that authorizes your agent to offer a specified amount above the best offer the seller receives." These are powerful when I deal with short sale properties listed at below appraisal or below the market comparable or 'comp'. What's a comp to 7 acres and stick-built house from the 1970's in a rural school district? Zillow and Trulia won't tell you. I can and will explain how it should be searched.

None of this is secret stuff. It is all out there in cyberspace and, yes, you can do with all without an agent. But why would you want to do that? Sellers pay commissions. Frankly it would be stupid not to choose someone to guide you along.

And it is your choice. Whether you are buying or selling: you choose your agent. I've gone into this before but I'll say it again. You get to hire your own broker whether you are selling or buying. If you want a bargain basement agent to sell your property, please go with the cheapest one. If you want someone you can trust, someone who has your back, someone who is just as interested in getting the right price for your property as you are: choose me.

If you are buying -- I'd say the same goes. I want to get you the house you want. Even if I have to go knock on a door to see if the owners are ready to sell.

It is all about finding the right property. The right deal for the client. Soon I will be showing off a super-new marketing tool I've been working on. Hopefully unveiling it this week.

Watch this space.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Closing Time

Taking one to the closing table today.

Glad for that as I get my commission check when I close. Notice I said, "Commission check."

That's because I do not get a paycheck.

I get a commission check which goes into my business as a paid. Of that paid amount I feed the Mother Ship, the fees to the brokerage house (rents). I pay the funds that fuel my business: Advertising, Insurances, Car, Marketing/Promo; then and only then, I get to pay myself. I like bar charts for this. This is how I have my business set up so at tax time I can go through all these titles and see what is costing me what. After a year or so, I can see if insurance companies are raising rates and look at different policies. I can look at fuel/car issues and see how uneconomical my Lincoln has become so I can start the "new ride" funding.

I have continued education funds, vacation funds, upkeep funds. They get fed when commissions come in. I do lots of graphs.

I have future business plans funds. I have dream funds. I like pie charts for these. All fed by commission checks.

Not a great deal different from when I collected a paycheck except all these funds get referenced with whether or not they are tax deductions for my business.

Paychecks. FICA and taxes are taken out.

Commission checks. FICA and taxes are my responsibility. One I do not take lightly, one that takes a lot of planning and oversight. I am a small business.

This is not my first foray into small business ownership. I owned a catering company in Anchorage. I owned a drywall finishing business for a while when I first came home to SoIL. The ache in my right thumb pretty much sidelined that business. (I broke that thumb twice so it is full of pain.)

I minored in accounting in college. Worked as an account's clerk - a job I hated but I loved the old dude (Mr. L) who owned the place.

My own books are set up a lot like all those in Mr. L's office. I did learn stuff while working for him -- he also taught accounting at the local junior college.


I'm good with money. It isn't a issue for me. Unless you refer to my commissions as a paycheck.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Bankers and lawyers and titles, oh my!

Never a dull moment. Well, yeah, really there are lots of dull moments in the daily life of a typical real estate broker. It is up to me to add some sass and sway to the day.

Today's journey begins with a call from a lawyer dealing with survey and title for one of the deals in the 'pipeline' -- the pipeline? It is the journey or, funnel, from accepted contract to closing table. Hold on to your hats, boys and girls, 'cuz it is always different with dots and dashes of crazy thrown in. Sort of like riding the slurry line down the stream for the gold at the end. (That one's for my pals in Alaska.)

Adds some zest to my otherwise dull existence, don't ya know?

Today's torment begins with getting one of said pipeline contracts to new lawyer in the mix so he can tango around the survey requirements. Getting some extensions put out there in email-land and waiting to hear from mystical and magical creatures of myth and legend known only as appraisers. Egad, people, this is my day.

It is 12:27 p.m. and already I'm thinking of cocktails. It has gotta be 5 o'clock somewhere.

Usually I do love lawyers. Yes, I know, I'm the only one but I like lawyers because they, like me, are usually quickly thinking of ways around the problem. Nimbly dancing around the dicey and doing a mean doe-see-doe while sidestepping objections thrown out there by bankers, underwriters and all others who seem to think their job is to stop transactions.

Really? Really? Real estate sales move the economy, people. Get out of the way of progress!

For those not familiar with Dante's work --
-- one of the circles? Real estate transactions. Oh, I know they say the Fifth Circle is Wrath and Sullenness -- its just shorthand for real estate transactions. A broker's wrath and the lender/underwriter's sullenness. True, dat.

Me: "Hey! Hi! Remember me? Your client is my client and where's the loan commitment?"
Bank: "Oh, hi. Ummm...lemme see...oh, that's not in-house so we're waiting on the bank we farmed it out to so..they have to make the call to appraiser."
Me: "What's their number so I can call them? And who do I talk to?"
Bank: "I don't know that information."


Okay, you've just told me you are a middleman for my client so I need to talk to someone who can get things done and you "don't know" their phone number or who I need to speak with?


One thing I do know from years of dealing with sources in the newsroom? There is a human somewhere who can somehow answer the call and get some kind of answer for you if you are persistent. Texts work, too. You'd be surprised...or maybe those of you who know me, wouldn't be surprised...at how many financial officers will give me their cellphone numbers so I can text them.

I'm fun to text. You should try it. 618-438-1900. I find I can be very irreverent and get quite a few laughs from the crankiest of bankers. I'm thinking their jobs aren't always very fun.

So...sullen...yes, I can see that. They probably get a lot of crabby real-a-tours calling and cranking on them.

That's the other thing I'm finding in real estate. A general rudeness and defensiveness displayed by other real-a-tours.  I'm beginning to think this trend is caused by stressful work environment, lack of control and feeling out of control. So far, I've found there are a lot of real-a-tours out there would have some major control issues. Dude...dudette! Chill.

The whole of this real estate business is out of my control. I have to be cool with this otherwise, you see, I'd start to display some sullenness. And we all know that's the bankers' domain.

All this leads to...da, da, daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa: MicroManaging. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh! Oh. The. Horror.

A topic for another blog, though, kids, because those calls are starting to generate the afternoon's callbacks.

Happy hunting out there and text me if you need some great, snappy answers to your real estate quests.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Holy Cow it is May already!

Time finally arrived to introduce the newest realtor: My former foster child, Monika Thomas! Ain't she grand?

If you are in the market in the San Francisco region, she's your gal: 415-572-2670

Make sure to tell her where you got her number.

She is also on-air in Cali and has her very own, successful Internet podcast. She tells me she will be branding with a new podcast: Get REAL Estate with Monika.

I'm very proud of her. See...back in the day...when dinosaurs still roamed the earth ((and media was live, real and not owned by two guys)), I got her into radio in Anchorage. She's travelled the world as a teacher and broadcaster. She lived and worked radio in Japan, France and then while in the UK, she acted as a live "on the spot" journalist a la Bridget Jones. So, yeah, those types of jobs do really exist but what the movies don't tell you is that you can't really eat, pay rent or bills while doing them.

So a few years ago when I moved out of broadcast/print journalism and into real estate in SoIL, Monika and I started talking about my major moves. I'd like to think she's again following my lead into a career path (this time), if done correctly, you can pay the rent and eat.

Especially in San Fran.

I'll be waiting on that podcast and will pass along those links when its ready.

Viva La Belle Monika!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Business as Un-usual.

One of the perks of real estate? No day is ever the same. Massive, frenzied activity or absolute dead silence with no in between.
One of the downsides of real estate? No day is ever the same. Massive, frenzied activity or absolute dead silence with no in between.

I like working in real estate for a lot of the same reasons I enjoyed reporting the news: no day is ever the same. I have absolutely nothing going on or I'm inundated with massive, frenzied information overloads which I must comprehend and regurgitate...factually and accurately.

It is a lot alike in a lot of ways. Lots of time management, lots of careful planning in down times for the madness to come. And it is madness. Sane people suddenly turn irrational and foolish.

In news coverage, I dealt with the aftermath of foolish, impulsive, reckless folly. In real estate, I try to prevent it while at the same time staying just an inch outside the circle, in my own professional bubble, because it is not personal for me. It is business.

I learned this while reporting news. No matter what I saw, what I heard, I had to keep my feelings out of it. The minute I put some of my me-ness in to the mix? I'd be busted for personalizing, editorializing the moment. It is called Opinion/Editorial and there is a place for that: In columns, in editorials, in moments where the audience knows....it is personally effecting me. Otherwise I have have to use the "royal we speak" of journalism. That silly way of speaking: "This Reporter witnessed no less than 55 puncture wounds to the victims chest at the autopsy."

See how I stayed in that bubble? And, yes, I did attend autopsies and, yes, I did have to report like that. Even in those most intimate of circumstances, there was no "I" -- for it was not personal for me -- it was my actions on your behalf. The reporter is to become the eyes and ears of the listener/reader and put you in the room without personal emotions or feeling.

"This is how it happened. This is how it smelled at the scene. This what it looked like when I was there today at noon. This is how many, how much. This what authorities say happened. They don't know who did it or why."

That doesn't mean I don't feel it. I got sick at autopsies. I cried when babies died. But I dried my eyes and wrote the story. Read the copy on air and cried afterwards. Cried while writing the newspaper accounts in the factual, dry, script of news. It takes a while to learn how to put the emotion into the accounts with quotes from firefighters and paramedics as you describe their intense, consuming and very personal sorrow.

I can tell you about their grief and share my own distress through them.

Again, with real estate, just because I must keep my shields up, it doesn't mean I don't feel it, too. A lot of times, with clients, they become friends and I do get to divulge my true feelings. But -- I have to keep most of my clients at arm's length. I'm not their friend. I am their trusted confidant with a fiduciary responsibility. <sigh>

Sounds fun, doesn't it?

Really, it is. I think my clients know I am working hard to do what's in their best interests. Trying to do the right thing on their behalf.

At least.....this reporter...I mean...

Me. I.

I hope so.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Houses Are a Girl's Best Friend

The Mother Ship has churned out a blog while I was still mulling over what I was seeing: Couples, unmarried, not engaged, just committed couples buying houses together.


The MS calls this the "new engagement ring" and since I have several of this committed couples on my client list: maybe they are onto something. Maybe this is the trend I've been spotting but couldn't quite put my finger on.

Now that they've named it for me I've had an A-ha! moment seeing all the clients I'm currently searching, showing or have contracts in place with. Some have babies toddling about, some have babies on the way, some have long histories together but not one of these couples declares themselves 'engaged' and none one of them has a wedding planned.

This is different from just 4 years ago when I had an influx of couples, engaged, planning weddings and looking to buy a house.

So what's the difference? Attitude.

Marriage isn't out of the question. Marriage is down the road. Marriage can wait for the romantic proposal (The tale of romantic after-house-purchase-engagement-story was told by my buyer's friend as we signed the final acceptance papers). Marriage can wait because interest rates have started to climb. House prices have bottomed out (last year!!) and are starting to climb. Inventories are down. Down payment money is starting to make a comeback.

Use the financial resources of the couple to buy a home now....marriage can wait.

I am seeing couples who have graduated college. Have a nest egg, a job, a committed relationship and have pushed aside the romance for the practicality of home ownership as their couple-commitment statement. No big engagement party, no picture in the press, no splashy bridezilla moments...save the drama for the interior decorator. Forget hiring the hall - hire the house inspector, instead.

These are young couples starting out in a brave new world like never before. With college debts to combine, careers to try to cobble together with futures seemingly more unstable with the world and national economies...and they are investing in bricks and mortar, solid foundations and working septics, new roofs and remodeled baths.

Use the financial resources of the couple to cement the relationship like no diamond ring ever will. Marriage can wait...but these interest rates won't.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Major Changes

Something in the air this time of year?

I'm thinking the world has gone loony-tunes and goofy this past 10 days. My mom and grandmother swore by the full moon/new moon lore: these Luna movements apply pressure to us Earthlings. Something's sure up because there has been a lot of activity in and around my life, in and around the lives of those closest to me, and indeed, if you look globally? Whoa!

As I write this SoIL is waking up to the aftermath of some very fierce and violent weather systems moving through the region yesterday and last night. So much so that The Weather Channel preempted their regular line-up to follow the Storm Chasers who were tracking the 'trough.

It was a wild weather system. Now so easily tracked by Doplar radar with flashing color-coding so we can see lightening flashes as they strike and watch the tornado debris trails in real time. Amazing, yes?

What if we could track all activity like that? What if we could track real estate markets like that? Real time, color-coded 'clouds' of systems (buyers) moving through the areas/regions. If we could do that, right now? This past 10 days since April 1, you would be seeing a remarkable flood of buyers moving into and around houses: that's realtors showing property. You'd see amazing cells or clots of color flashing points: that's realtor's giving listing presentations to prospective sellers. The market trackers...those Storm Chasers? They would have been facing a tsunami of buyers and sellers hitting our SoIL market.

Partly because last season was so hit-and-miss but partly because I think people here are tired of waiting. SoIL never "busts" and never "booms" -- we simmer. We stew. We get to a nice rolling boil sometimes but we never blow the lid off the pot.

Last year's passive/aggressive season, I believe, was caused by the 2012 Presidential Elections. After November, the waves of buyers came flooding in for a small tidal effect. And I really don't think it had anything to do with who was or wasn't running -- I truly believe people were just tired of the process, glad it was done, and now on to realtime, real family, real blood & bones issues like: we need a house to call home.

So. Yes. I do believe the national politics did slow SoIL housing markets down a bit....the temperature dialed down a bit on the crockpot which is this part of the world which sits between the Ohio and the Mighty Mississippi.

Then we burbled along through the rest of  winter with the holidays, January slugginess and February's "S/HelovesmeS/Helovesmenot" Valentine's Season. (I like Valentine's Day but it stresses some folks out of their skulls!)

March Madness! Why, oh, why do you think it is such a big deal? Other than the actual love of the game? Because it falls in March!! People are sooooo ready for something to cheer, something to focus some energy upon! ((something to bet on!! -- oops! That's just the gambler talkin'))

Now into April, right after an early Easter and the "BOOM" the race is now ON.

Which is good for me. I am good with time management and I love the pace of "frenzy" -- yep, that's why I loved radio/broadcast news.  We were live and in-the-moment. No take-backs or do-overs when you are live, live, live. ((if you haven't checked out HBO's Broadcast News with Jeff Daniels, please do if you really want to see what radio news was sorta/kinda like))

This morning I intentionally left myself some free time so I could blog. Yeah, how cool is that? When I'm having me time I'm spending talking to you!! That special time we need together to bond...just me an my blog followers.

 <sigh> If we could only cuddle.

((I truly need a sarcasm font))

Thursday, April 4, 2013

No April Foolin'

Hippity-hop that big bunny is done with for another year! So - the phone explodes Easter Monday. Everyone really had been waiting until after Easter to call about some piece of property.

This is good. Real good news for me...for buyers and sellers, too, if they do listen to the wise ol' real estate lady. Or me, which ever one works for you.

And, we've been over this before: the real estate lady (or gent) works for the client. Not the big fancy logo on their business card. Mother Ship (the brand) and local shop (franchisee) both take a cut of my "split" of the commission. These are part of the fees (rents) I pay to work in that shop ((think of this as a hairdresser renting a chair at Vidal Sassoon)).

Commissions are split between the realtors of the buyer and the seller. Then those are split in the shop were you hang your license.

My client is my skin in the game.  I get paid when the deal closes and you hop on down the trail with either the new home of your dreams or the lucky stiff who unloaded one.

The big point of today's essay is this:

The starting whistle has blown. The season is here and the lookers have begun in earnest. One thing I need to keep repeating:  inventories are waaaay down. Which means more buyers than lookers. Houses still have to be priced competitively and sellers will still negotiate the list price. BUT. Buyers? When you find a suitable house, bid on it. If you wait chances are you will lose the house to another buyer. Period. Game over. Start over looking.

This happened several times with my buyers last year. Some of the same buyers came back to me in January and February to start looking.

This time they are a lot proactive with bidding. You do not have to settle for something you hate. You do have to see the possibility of changing something to fit your needs or spending more.

Either way: I predict real estate will keep me hoppin' for the next few months.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Open Frame


Hey -- here's a neat-o idea the Mother Ship turned me on to...check out the video! Made in America, too!

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Home is calling.
Can you hear it?
I sure can. 
I sell houses but more importantly I find homes.
That mythical, magical, wondrous haven that awaits at the end of your work day.
The place where, as George Carlin said, “You keep your stuff.”
We all need the safety of four walls, a roof that doesn't leak.
A place to kick back and relax, kick up our heels in celebration, fall to our knees in times of the most blessed bliss, overwhelming gratitude, and, yes, deep regret.
Where our key fits the door
with which we can shut out the world.
Where our imagination designs the rooms where we live.

Home is calling.
 Call me and I can help you find
that magical place.
That place you can call:

Friday, March 22, 2013

Another new listing, priced to sell!


This one is perfect for one or two or three...first time home buyer, the new couple, the downsizer couple or the single parent. We have it priced to sell and it has tons of potential.

In Herrin, in this price range, there are six homes on the market. Call me for a tour and you'll see why this one is...home.

Weekends where made for looking


Time to call the realtor!

As the weather warms up, the calls start coming in. I really, really, really enjoy this career when the sun is shining. Spring fever hits the real estate market with people itching to move. Renters want to move into something they can own and build equity in. Put down roots and spread out. Get their own slice of the American dream.

The Mother Ship gives me all kinds of stats surrounding home ownership. Like kids raised in houses purchased not rented do better in school. I think this comes from added security and stability. We have so many kids out there with issues like not enough food and homelessness! ((If you haven't seen it -- try and catch HBO's American Winter))

But enough politics.

Topics on this blog is real estate and how to acquire some of your own to own and that's easy: Call me. 618-438-1900. Texts are good, too.

I can tell you the inventory is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay down in SoIL so when a new, remodeled and affordable home comes on the market it will not last long.

If you haven't been pre-approved for a mortgage: Do it. Online or call me for a list of financial guys/gals who will take your info on the phone and set you on the road to ownership.

If you have your pre-approval: Call me so we can start looking for your house.

I promise. Home is out there -- I can help you find it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

New Listing!!

First day of Spring! We are into the 2013 Selling Season!!

Listings are starting to sprout up and here's my newest offering: 1100 square feet of totally remodeled space in West Frankfort, Illinois. Forgive me for a lapse into The REaltorese but: This one will pass Rural Development Direct, people!!

MLS 317134

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Buyers Market?

If you are thinking of listing your house, do it now. Buyers? If you find a house that meets your needs? Put in an offer or be prepared to lose it.

Waiting will not be moving the market in your favor: "Listings of existing homes for sale were down 14% year-over-year in the first two weeks of January, according to Realtor.com, which tracks 146 markets nationwide."

Don't want to believe me? Then you should believe USA Today, Realtor.com, Coldwell Banker Mother Ship? How about Census figures on new builds: "New home construction is still weak. In each of the past three years, builders completed fewer than 500,000 single-family homes. That's less than half the number built annually between 1993 and 2007, according to the Census Bureau."

Low supply is feeding bidding wars in some parts of SoIL. In Carterville, Waltonville, Woodlawn or Sesser/Valier school districts desirable turnkey, RD, FHA or VA qualifiers will test the limits of bidding. These are "hot" school districts: remember saleability of property has an unbreakable first rule: it is location, location, location. The second rule becomes price...what's the bang for the buck? Remember -- in these locations young families are buying starter homes and established homeowners are moving up to their dream properties.

What will the market bear? Those markets listed above? They will support first time home buyers and those looking for the second, and, even third tier (luxury home with land) homes. Why? Because these are locations within easy commute from major employers in the region. Also the proximity to family, friends... then there is what I think of as the "coming home" factor. Folks who left to pursue career elsewhere come back to the familiar stomping grounds of youth.

Lots of those returning can and do fuel the upper market homes. These folks want to be the "landed gentry" of the area. So, perhaps, they want enough land to hunt without obtaining a license or they want private fishing/picnic/4-wheeler heavens/havens. For serious land deals we have to travel further south and those homes abutting the Shawnee National Forest become the featured paradise of dreams. I could sell a house with four or more acres a little outside of town with 3+ bedrooms and 2+ baths with a heated/cooled 30x30 pole barn in turnkey condition listed for under $120,000 every day of week plus two on Sunday. I'm telling you right now...it ain't gonna happen for ya. Not in those school districts, it ain't. For that price you'd better be willing to put some sweat or money or both into the house or build your own pole barn. I guarantee you it will need work, not just a coat of paint.

Something you have to consider: in large urban areas people can and do commute an hour or more into the city. Here in SoIL those commuters are coming from  rural areas or small towns into "urbanish" centers like Mt Vernon, Carbondale, Marion. Commuters drive into CT, Walgreens, National Rail, any of a half dozen medical centers, banking, law, state jobs like prisons, schools/colleges/universities, publishing and businesses (corporate to small mom & pop) to support the population. I am in this last group:  I am a small business! I hang my license with a Coldwell  franchise; for this privilege, I pay dues/expenses/fees on a quarterly basis. I work "for" my clients. Listing property? Those sellers? They pay commissions that I split with the franchisee and the mother ship -- again:  paying for the privilege of hanging my broker's license in that shop. Rents, if you will, for the privilege of ownership of my own business with a Coldwell Banker mother ship and a franchisee in Carterville.

That's why it is important you get to know me. That you call my cell (618-438-1900) and you actually know that I am working for you whether you are buying or selling. My buyer/seller is my skin in the game -- I get nothing until I get you to the closing table.

That trip to the table can be a saucy jaunt down the Yellow Brick Road with flying baboons ((yeah, I saw the new OZ movie)), biting water fairies, nasty witches, soldiers with battle axes and broken china. It is my mission to try to limit the surprise factor; make sure it is not your dream that gets shattered like so much pottery.

It falls in my lap to explain the facts of (real estate) life to you. Please believe me when I speak...I have no joy in bursting your bubble. Because facts, those pesky things, do tend to bring the party back down to earth and sales of property? They are perking up. If you have a house to sell? Clean it, paint it and make sure everything works. Make sure it shines like a new penny and be ready to help a buyer buy it. If you don't then be prepared to price it lower!

Buyers? Get your finances in order. Don't be surprised if you have to overlook flaws. Know your limits and be prepared to paint, clean, move walls and add baths. And be prepared to offer more!!

Questions? Good! I got answers!

Let's hope they match.

Call me or text anytime: 618-438-1900

I am building a real estate practice and I need your business.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

March in

 March is, supposedly, in like a Lion this year. What with snow, wind, sleet -- general mayhem, pathos and chaos nationally and internationally. What's interesting, too, with all that's going on around the globe, real estate has begun to get poppin'.

I believe this has to do with the Dow Index topping out:  people's portfolios are doing very well. Lenders are making money so are more willing to lend. It does have a lot to do with Wall Street being bullish. Lots of mergers, lots of action, lots of...bull... there means a little bit of breathing room for the little guys just looking to find four sturdy walls on a stable foundation and non-leaking roof.

Some trends in real estate, I believe from watching comings and goings in SoIL, happen because people just get sick of waiting. The more chaos in D.C., the more stable common folk want to feel -- and buying a house means stability.


People need stability. Lack of it is the stuff of nightmares, panic attacks and acting out in bad behavior. Stressy times call for calm and steady with soothing crock pots burbling in airy kitchens. Four walls on a sturdy foundation with good plumbing and a roof that don't leak.

March Madness. It is more than just a ballgame. In some ways it is the whole ballgame of life. The weather is wacky in March. The end of winter, the beginning of spring is in March.

I share my birthday with Dr Seuss, a freethinker if ever there was one. March Madness leaking out of March birthday holders?

People get "itchy" in March. Longing for winter to end or trying to squeeze in as much winter fun as possible. Lots of winter festivals start in February and end in March. Anchorage, Alaska has Fur Rondy and today the Iditarod sled dog race begins: 1049 miles from Anchorage to Nome. If anything, this race has all the appearances of mushers trying to out-race spring because along the route, those sled dogs will have to paw across frozen rivers and, if possible, across the frozen waters of Norton Sound.

People are "itchy" in March. On the lookout for signs of spring: the first lilies, daffodils, crocus pushing up and bravely starting the blooming show. All the seed catalogs start to arrive. Lettuce is planted under plastic and tomato plants are started in greenhouses, attics, warm laundry rooms.

Itchy, twitchy, 'gotta-get' feelings bubble up, stir up, shake up. The ending is near, the beginning awakening -- the longings start, pressing those buttons. Ahhhh, March....I love this month.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

House hunting?

Be verweey, verweey quiet, I'm hunting...houses...((paraphrasing Elmer but you get the idea)).

The whole real estate, realtor ((reel-tour...lol)) gig, is, or can be, incredibly silly. There are Realtors out here in cyberworld who "brand" themselves by wearing funny hats, outrageous bad hairdo's, killer glasses frames, catchy-kitch-catch phrases, with those seemingly stock photos: you know the ones? Those with their hands cupping their chins or full-on profiles of them standing slightly to one side, arms crossed over their bodices in a manner to imply the deal is done. <sigh> Must I?

First of all...if someone had told me I was about to enter a profession that warrants, no, demands (!), obligates and requires current photos of me??? I would have politely but firmly sent my regrets. Is there anything more worser than having to have a full face photo made regularly? I think not.

I was in radio, remember? Behind the screen where it is safe to be stupid and drool into the microphones. Well...until you go big league morning show. Then you still get to have silly photos.

My first business card shows me in a senior-in-high-schoolish type photo with me kind of squinting in to the lens Eastwood-like. <sigh> I am unphotogenic. <sigh> One of the main reasons I learned to take pictures, studied photography?  So I could take the photos in any gathering and not have mine taken. Ugh.

Moving back to SoIL I got out my cameras at family events and found my niece, Celeste, (pictured above) also declined when I asked to take her picture, thinking, that she is unphotogenic. As you can see from her self portrait above -- she's lovely. I'd like to think I had a hand in showing her how to capture an image. And she's the gifted photographer I used when I needed some updated headshots last year.

So what does all this have to with real estate, listing houses and house hunting?

Plenty, my Precious, let me explain: Just like people can be photographed in wacky poses, with bad lighting, hokey-pokey-hurky-jerky styling? So can houses. And that can be very, verweey bad...hahahaha. Especially since a huge number of potential buyers first see your home on this here onerous device known as the internets. Ya know, like former Alaska State Senator Ted Stevens ( http://youtu.be/f99PcP0aFNE) so aptly explained: the internets is a series of tubes. Streaming into your computer, my computer, your neighbor's computer, stalker and troll alike now have your info on these series of tubes call the internet.

Which drives us back to this whole photos on the internet thing. Realtors can be savvy, professional, fact-filled, walking, talking, house selling machines!! But not all of them know what makes a good, clean, well-composed shot of a kitchen. Seriously, some Realtors should have their cameras taken from them with the warning if they are ever caught trying to fill a frame, they will immediately be charged with visual assault with intent to create ugly.

And it is not just here in SoIL's beloved EBOR MLS. Some of my favorites come from upscale video tours out of Dallas and Seattle. O. M. G. The horror! And a lot of these are listed for close to a million bucks!! But, Realtors being Realtors...they shoot the sites themselves and it becomes a project to provide a thousand laughs. Perfect examples of what not to do.

This happens, because, by and large, I have found Realtors to be an independent, sorta know-it-ally, competitive bunch of egomaniacs. Look at me...I blog!! I use social media like it's special sauce on a cheeseburger. Dude, I have met the enemy and they is us.

So...yea....I do take the best darn photos ever! I can do what others cannot. I am magically gifted with talents and abilities other Realtors don't even know exist in the Universe. YaHUH...YaHUH>

Honestly? What I won't do is insist my photo efforts are the best ever. I will change the photos around in the Virtual Tour and I do make sure there are some pleasant effects and catchy music. I want it to be pleasing. I want to entice the buyer to call us up and come see your house!

I do get caught up in the composition of photos, the lighting, the angles. I do try to make something aesthetically pleasing and, forgive me, artistic. I can't help it. I want it to be pretty. I want it to be inviting. I want it to say, "Come see me in person."

That being said. I do not want it to show better on the Virtual Tour than in person. I'm not trying to fool anyone. I won't try and make it look bigger. I won't try and hide things like window a/c. I like the photos to feel....interesting, real, genuine....True.

A few years ago there was a series of ads that said: "Life is messy, clean it up." I used to tell my kids, "Life's hard. Wear a helmet."

Life is messy. Life is hard. Life can be stressful.

Statistics show that buying/selling a house is one of the top five most stressful things you can do. It is up there with death and divorce. And the reason for this? Because you are about to outlay a substantial amount of money, time and effort.

For sellers this stress comes in the form of listing contracts and pricing the house to sell so it maximizes profits, pays off what is owed, gives you seed money for the future but doesn't shortchange you. It means making the most of, most likely, the biggest tangible asset we have.

For buyers it means finding a good deal. It means being able to see yourself in this structure. It means borrowing more money than you've ever borrowed before. It means finding...home.

It can be stressful - for buyers and sellers -- because it means making a decision and some people just are not good at making decisions. Making decisions, to some, means knowing absolutely what they want. This causes a lot of stress.

This idea of absolutes? Let's put that to rest. As my client, I have a few really good, tried and true ways to belay that stress.

Humor works. Honesty works. I do a lot of the legwork and homework on the markets for you and that works as a stress reliever, too.

Mostly I think just knowing you've found an advocate, a friend, a confidant. Someone listens and really hears what you say.

Sometimes it means finding someone who will tell you when you are mistaken and then explains why.

Sometimes it means having someone help you establish what you really, really want.

And sometimes, sometimes, it just means knowing what you don't want.