Category Archives: Mason CIty

Money in the Pockets

Money in the PocketsIt was good to be back to a normal Monday with the exception of finding it hovering around 23 degrees when I left for work.  Ouch!  After looking at the weather, I see it’s not going to be getting much better the rest of the week.  If this keeps up, we’ll be seeing some of that evil white stuff more sooner than later.  When talking with an elderly lady this afternoon, she mentioned that most of her “Snowbird” friends are getting ready to head South.

Another condominium unit at Prairie Place on 1st sold over the weekend along with  having another buyer circling.  Perhaps I may be sounding like a broken record, but I must admit every time I’m over there showing the complex, I feel very much at home.

Our City administrators should be thanking their lucky stars that the Good Shepherd donated a million dollars towards that project with no strings attached.  Before I was informed of that, I couldn’t understand how those units could be selling at such a great discount considering the square footage being offered as well as the quality of construction.  So if you divide 32 units into one million, you’ll find that each one of those units cost $30,000.00 more to build than what we’re seeing them priced.  Now you know the rest of the story.

Not only are the units pleasing to the eye on the interior, they’re also exceptionally attractive on the drive-by. That complex will far outlast many others and serve as a beacon of hope for others to beautify their areas of our City.  Thank you Good Shepherd for creating a new neighborhood at the periphery of our Historic Downtown by your being so generous with your “giving back” to our City. Bravo!

The short article I read today troubled me deeply which spoke about the current percentages of Americans that are now living from pay to pay.  Believe it or not, there are approximately 80% of our citizens in that boat.  Some who were interviewed said that it’s difficult to save even $100.00 per month.  What is this Country turning into?  It’s beginning to appear more like a third world where there’s no middle class; just those few very rich and a growing mass of poor.  It’s no wonder people are getting crazier by the day.

I’m hoping all registered voters get to the polls tomorrow to cast their ballots for those running for election as well as the Renaissance Mason City proposal.  Now I want all of you to think about, along with reflecting upon this vote “YES” campaign.  If you truly believe that this proposed multi-million dollar project is going to “fix” the real problems we’re having in our City, then I simply say to you, “Vote your conscience, and let the future of our City speak for itself.”

After reading about this 80% living from pay to pay, I truly doubt there’ll be any more of our area residents doling out money they don’t have to spend. What we desperately need are better paying jobs.  Good jobs are something our City should be placing all the more emphasis on instead of leisure activities.  Let’s focus more on recruiting companies to locate here so there’ll be real leisure money in the pockets of our shrinking middle class.  Now that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The above photo of Prairie Place on 1st is one of my favorites which I thought appropriate for tonight.  Stay warm and be sure to vote your conscience tomorrow.

1415 – 9th St. SE

1415 - 9th St. SE-1Oh Mercy!  What an absolute change in weather in a week’s time!  While driving out of town to my closing this morning, the snowfall seemed to be getting heavier, but while driving back, it was just as if I was caught in the beginnings of a January blizzard.  Thank goodness the snow slowed way down by the time I got back to Mason City.  If it would’ve continued like it did that half hour or so, we would have been in the middle of a big mess.  I heard the States north of us were getting pounded with snow, and hope it continues to stay north.

In spite of the snow, my closing went very well to where everyone was very happy.  I could tell the buyer was exceptionally excited to get moving and improving.  I have a feeling they’ll be in that home for a very long time along with hoping their move won’t be so difficult in this weather.  As November’s quickly approaching, each good day is a blessing because we all know how quickly things can change.  I was reminded of that while driving back to our City today. With two public open houses planned for this weekend, I’m hoping the wind will quiet down from what it was like most of the day.

Another story was told to me today by a customer who’d been duped by an internet scam which angered me immensely.  Seems just before he went to pay the deposit to his new landlord, he received a fake email from him telling him to deposit his security deposit which was cash, into a Wells Fargo account with instructions.  Not 24 hours later, his new landlord called asking why he hadn’t stopped to pay his deposit.  Well, you can now piece together the rest of his story.  I’m sure an evil scammer hacked into his landlord’s email and stole his identity long enough to steal a good chunk of free cash.

From what it sounds like, the sad part about this is that Wells Fargo claims it can do nothing at this time because there was cash deposited into what appeared to be a legit account opened in a State out West.  I told the young gentleman today that I wouldn’t walk away from that unfortunate incident because whomever stole that money from him, is likely doing it to all the many more.  It’s just one more example of how it’s become easier to extort from innocent and hard working people who actually have real jobs.

Late this afternoon I listed a marvelous ranch home that’s in one of Mason City’s sought after neighborhoods.  It’s located at 1415 – 9th St. SE which is very close to Jefferson Elementary, John Adams Middle School, and the High School.   It’s far more roomy than what appears from the street view because it has a large main floor family room at the rear which offers a gas fireplace and sliding doors leading to a private patio. The real bonus is that if someone would want another bath and bedroom in the basement, the plumbing has already been stubbed in, and also a room that could serve as a 4th bedroom if one would install an egress window. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a keeper.

I’ve already got it posted with accompanying photos, so don’t wait too long because I believe this home is going to sell rather quickly considering it’s in an affordable price range and located where many young families want to live.  Click on the link and see for yourself what 1415 – 9th St. SE has to offer you.

Day and Night

Day and NightMy day started a bit early with having to get a few more preparations done before the cold arrived.  After yesterday, I’d say I’m starting to get acclimated to our colder temps.  It didn’t make me very happy seeing these next two weeks are supposed to be colder than normal for this time of year.  I reminded a client this morning about a November we had about 20 years being extra cold, but then the remainder of the winter was delightfully mild.  It’s a crap shoot when trying to guess the weather when we’ve got those unpredictable effects of global warming to take into consideration.

Another one of my listings that sold will be closing tomorrow at an out of town bank.  I haven’t been in that community for a number of years so it’ll be interesting to see how things have changed over the years.  I’m going to miss working with that particular young couple.  They’ve been exceptionally loyal as well as thankful for the extra counseling I gave them during their decision making process.  I’m sure they’d agree their understanding of the whole procedure of purchasing a home has increased many-fold since our first encounter.

Over the years, I’ve listened to countless horror stories from first-time buyers who purchased homes for more than they should have, along with inheriting problems they were too naïve at the time to recognize.  If only someone had taken the time to educate and guide them on their home buying journeys, their lives would have been far less financially burdened.  There are people living in our community who’ve intentionally sold pig-in-a-poke homes to ignorant buyers, and likely laughed all the way to the bank with their fat proceeds checks.  Why is it there have be people who just don’t want to play fair?  Nobody wants to hear about “us”, but rather all the more about “me”.

This coming Sunday, I’ll be hosting a public open house over at Prairie Place on 1st from 1:00 – 3:00 pm for seniors over the age of 55.  We’re still getting activity and sales on them, but yours truly’s perfect world would be having those remaining available units already sold.  There’s no question in my mind that it’s the best of the best senior housing complex in North Iowa.  If you don’t believe me, ask each and every one of the current residents.

A late appointment took me out of town this afternoon.  The country landscape has certainly changed to where I was beginning to think it was late November instead of October.  The particular buyers I’m now working with want something either in a small town or an acreage and don’t want to pay much over $100K.  Sound like a tough order, but with winter on its way, there’ll be a seller or two wanting out before the first of the year.

My suspicions have been recently confirmed regarding yet another wild animal population on the rise in our area.  We’ve now got a growing problem with coyotes.  Just recently around sunset, I’ve seen them running out in the fields.  It wouldn’t surprise me if most would think them to be mid-sized dogs.  Between the exploding population of deer, the multiply number of squirrels, and now the coyotes, I’m not sure which group I consider to be the most vile.

If you have time, do a little research on what has been happening out West in their suburbs regarding the chronic problem they’ve been having with coyotes.  I personally despise them because they’re finding our area fox dens and killing and eating their pups.  I know there’ve been coyote hunts in our area in the past, so I hope they’re planning others in the very near future. It seems all the more like we’re being invaded from every side by unwanted creatures of the day and night.

My Fish Bowl

My Fish BowlSomehow the day seemed to fly by with all my little “to do’s” I had on a list. Some of those chores entailed making sure those vacant listings of mine have their furnaces turned on and working properly. With the weather soon to be turning much colder, is creating more concern on my part. Most people have no idea how quickly a home’s water pipes can freeze when it gets well below freezing. Over these long years, I’ve seen some very costly damage occur when pipes freeze, and then when it warms up enough to thaw, there’s water spraying everywhere.

One of the reasons I refuse to have an ice maker on my refrigerator is knowing even the slightest leak in one of those small hoses can eventually water-log an entire first floor. I’m still convinced many of those plastic hoses and fittings are not strong enough to withstand a city’s water pressure over a long period of time. I’ll just continue using my old-fashioned ice cube trays.

Another one of my little jobs today was to change a light bulb at the bottom of a basement stairway on one of my listings. The bulb that was there was an energy-saving bulb which takes a long time to brighten. I didn’t think it wise to have a bulb like that at the bottom of a stairwell. When showing a home, one should always have instant light. Have you noticed how hard it is to find regular light bulbs that are more than 60 watts? We can thank our Government’s intervention on that. I fully understand saving energy, but there are situations when stronger lighting is necessary—especially when a home is listed for sale. You can’t expect someone to buy it if they can’t see what they’re buying.

A seller called me this afternoon to let me know he’s decided to not have his home for sale any longer. I’m sure he thought I’d be disappointed in hearing I’ll not be able to market his home any longer, when in fact I was relieved. The on-going communication problems with his tenants was enough to wear nearly anyone down. I’m sure his tenants think they’ve won and likely now smiling and laughing over the number of times they refused their house to be shown. I wish that whole landlord/tenant relationship well, and even more so if I’ll never see them darken my office door again.

I moved like greased lightening to get my sign out of that yard today, and when I pulled up, I noticed it laying flat and muddied on the ground. It must have been the last unspoken message to me from those “delightful” tenants. Without a second thought, I went and picked it up and placed it in my vehicle while quietly saying “Good Bye, and Good Riddance” to that prolonged drama. I’m certain I’ll be all the better for it tomorrow because knowing fully well, the universe has a way of setting wrongs aright.

While working at the front desk of my office and seeing the stream of non-touristy people walking up and down Federal Ave. in our Historic District this afternoon, I’m wondering if the big promoters of their proposed Mason City Renaissance project have special magic wands or genies in bottles to where they’ll be able to instantly change the most apparent socio/economic and meta-physical state of those many I happened to see walking past my office in just one hour’s time. I felt like a little fish looking out from the other side of the glass of my fish bowl. Believe me, it wasn’t a pretty.

A Bowl of Chili

A Bowl of ChiliHaving finally dressed for the weather, I wasn’t nearly as chilled as yesterday.  That relentless wind felt like one of winter’s Alberta Clippers moving thru.  Good thing we didn’t have snow or we would’ve been having white-outs.  Just get yourselves prepared for the end of this week because it’s gonna be well below freezing.  I think Daylight Saving Time will be coming to an end in a couple of weeks which I’m not happy about, but what can we do other than bear down and endure it?  I’m already envisioning the short days and dreadfully long nights. But remember, once we get past November and December, the sun will be quietly marching back north.

Having been out of my office on appointments most of the day, it was a welcome relief to be in while the sun was shining brightly thru my office windows.  While at my office, a colleague asked me several days ago how I liked working in my office building.  I truthfully said, “Of all the offices I’ve worked in which included several banks, I’d say without a doubt my current office is my favorite.”  He then asked why.  My condensed response was, “Its layout, the abundance of wood, and above all, the bushels of natural light that filters thru the tall windows at both ends.”  After saying that, he took a closer look around and said, “I’d have to agree with you. You’ve got a lot of natural light going on here.”

One of my well knowns stopped by for a chat late this afternoon just to bring me up to speed on where she is in her life.  She’s one of those quiet people whom you’d walk past in Walmart and not have even the slightest clue of the depth of her intelligence she has contained.  It’s always a delight visiting with her because of her broad understanding of nearly everything.  Having known her for a very many years, I’m all the more convinced that far too many people get promotions based more on their chassis’ than what’s between their ears.  There’ve been more times than I dare recall the number of both male and female employees who were raised up due to their “eye candy” exteriors.  Yours truly have so badly at times wanted to say, “Oh I see you’ve given “eye candy” a promotion, but you forgot to replace the cotton candy between those ears.”  Yes, I being a little wicked, but it happens more than anyone would dare admit.

Several of my new listings are getting showings already which is telling me the buyers are still out there, but being a little more choosey.  If only there’d be one who’ll take a look at 422 S. Tennessee Place.  The owner of that condo is highly motivated an wants it sold before winter arrives.  So please, spread the word and help me get it sold.

Early this morning I delivered to my office some chili pepper plants that I pulled up last night so to hang them upside-down and naturally dry in my basement.  It’ll take about three months before they’re fully dried and subsequently coarsely ground.  There are a number of my clients and customers who are always delighted to get a small jar of my naturally grown and ground chili peppers.

The above photo is one I took of those that had fallen off their plants, so I’ll have to dry them separately.  You are now seeing a bowl of chili peppers which may someday be part of someone’s spiced up bowl of chili.  As Julia Child would say, “Bon appetit!”

Remembrances of Faith

Remembrances of Faith-1The weather has suddenly turned for the worse beginning this morning.  I was shocked to find it getting colder instead of warmer as the day progressed.  I understand it’s supposed to get down in the 20′s later this week, so I guess just about everything green will be soon turning brown.  I’m not looking forward to the days of cold and darkness again.  Those who work inside most of the year really don’t have that much to worry about during the Winter months other than getting from home to work, but the other poor devils that have to be out in it are those I pity.

Without looking to see what the weather was going to be like, I soon found I hadn’t dressed warm enough for the day.  Fortunately, most of my day was spent in the office doing some much needed sorting and arranging of files.  It’s amazing how quickly papers can pile up to where they cause annoying clutter.  After about five hours of sorting, filing, shredding and cleaning, I’d say I’ve got pretty much all of it back under control.

All of these signs I’m seeing around town with “vote yes” on them, and knowing many who live in those homes, is just another confirmation that this “vote yes” business is being pushed by a very select group of people in our community.  I keep thinking to myself, “What’s really in it for them?”  I’m wondering if they’re being pressured by high-up business associates. What do you think?

What I’m very thankful for, is being able to go to several key people in our City who know the rest of a given story, or possess the missing pieces to a mental puzzles.  They usually don’t hesitate to share information because I similarly share mine with them.  It’s nearly always funny whenever we speak about a given person or subject because there’s almost always something we both bring to the table that wasn’t known by the other which creates an even more clear picture of a given person or situation.  For me it’s a great example of genuine people wanting the best for each other along with a willingness to help whenever possible. With those few, there’s never been that “What’s in it for me?” whenever giving or gathering information.

Late this afternoon there was quite the creepiest of happenings.  While I was busy with gleaning in my office of needless paper, a young man stopped by to drop something off that belonged to his father who passed about 6 years ago.  The item really wasn’t much, but he thought the person that purchased his father’s home would want it since it was part of the house. The kicker of this story is that not but 10 minutes earlier, I’d found a file containing funeral pamphlets.  I flipped thru them and noticed one which I felt compelled to re-read regarding the deceased father of today’s visitor.  Now that was a very creepy coincidence wouldn’t you say?  I made sure to tell my visitor what had happened not but 10 minutes earlier. Sometimes things happen that defy the laws of chance to where you say, “What the heck was that all about?”

Several people called me today to say how much they liked yesterday’s article about St. Paul Lutheran Church here in Mason City.  Rest assured, my comments and observations were agenda-free.  It really is a wonderful community of Faith and hopefully more people will take the time to pay St. Paul a visit some Sunday morning in the near future.

During one of those conversations today, I intimately shared my feelings about the beautiful carved wooden Cross that hangs in St. Paul’s Sanctuary.  It’s not only a great work of art, but also invokes in me a great sense of reverence to where I’m always compelled to bow my head a bit and bless myself whenever walking past it.  Don’t you think places of worship should always contain “best-work” artistic remembrances of faith?  Believe me, that Cross was someone’s best, and likely meant to be hanging in St. Paul’s Sanctuary.

Smile While looking Back

St. Paul Lutheran today-1We certainly had quite the beauteous day unfold after that pounding rain storm we had last night.  I was getting a bit fearful of the lightning that seemed to pack all the more punch when seeing it strike in the distance.  One of the bolts that struck looked like something out of Star Wars.  I hope whatever it hit wasn’t someone’s home.  Too many take thunderstorms for granted, but in reality, they should be all the more careful in protecting all those electrically powered peripherals contained in their homes.

My best advice is for everyone to unplug electric appliances as well as everything else that contains components which can easily be fried by a close lightning strike.  When our office was in another building Downtown many years ago, we had computers fried by a nearby strike.  It wasn’t a pleasant surprise when arriving and the office the next morning.  A great lesson was learned and remembered.

Having agreed to play over at St. Paul Lutheran today, I went over about an hour early to do a little warming up for their 9:00 o’clock Service.  Their new Pastor is exceptionally well educated and has accomplished far more than most.  Since he’s new, I went to their webpage and read his bio.  This morning after practicing with him I soulfully said, “I can see your religious career has been centered around helping others in great ways–especially in the area of social justice.”  He seemed surprised that I managed to understand his “core” after reading about him.

He felt it would be better for me to play the piano for the service music he would be leading.  Since I played for him before, I could tell it was easier for him to follow me when playing the piano versus the organ.  At first he thought I was making some great compromise, so I assured him it wasn’t a big deal for me to switch from organ to piano during the Service.   After I finished playing their last hymn on the organ, I was happy that he’d asked me to switch back and forth.  It seemed to add more musical texture to their Gathering.

I do wish there’d be more people attending St. Paul Lutheran Church here in Mason City.  It’s truly a place that offers a more contemplative spiritual setting.  I’ve never been one who gets off on church “performances” because I don’t believe it’s a place to show off talent, but rather a sacred place to share talents.  Believe me, I’ve been around far too many over the years who work at being “center stage”, along with those who’re sure to appear overly-pious in their outward signs of faith.  As a whole, I’ve never found that to be something living in St. Paul’s community, which for me is a breath of fresh air.

The remainder of my day was spent listing two homes along with playing catch up with yesterday’s menial tasks that I had to dispense with due to the rain.  Please take a look at my two new listings which are located at 217 – 6th St. SW and 326 – 15th St. SE.  I’m already getting calls on 15th St SE which doesn’t surprise me a bit.

For a Sunday, I’d say I had quite the broad range of duties which seamlessly moved from one to another until I was able to call it quits and smile while looking back.