Category Archives: Real Estate

A Fistful of Change

A Fistful of Change-1After many months of endlessly searching, and near the point of giving up, a buyer of mine managed to close on a home that exceeds every expectation.  I’m just glad I was able to be part of it all, along with having no bumps in the road during the whole loan process.  If the buyer makes the improvements I’ve recommended, it’ll be a sound investment that will work as a near maintenance-free home for many years to come.  It’s just another example of how sometimes good things do happen for good people.

After looking at my weekend schedule before leaving the office today, I can see I’ll be busy from the time I hit the ground in the morning.  Since I’m having two open houses tomorrow, I had to squeeze several appointments in early in the morning before my first public open house.

That first open house tomorrow will be at 2831 – 4th St. NW here in Mason City.  I just received a price reduction on it today which brought it down to $299,500.  There’s no question in my mind that if I were looking for a well built home on the edge of the City, 2831 – 4th St. NW would be my first and only choice.  It is exceptionally well built, and just recently had well over $200K worth of improvements made.  The garage alone must’ve cost upwards of $60K to build.  The floor plan is very open and the room sizes are much larger than one would expect.  There’s someone interested in it, but they have to sell their home first, and we cannot wait because it must be sold more sooner than later.  Stop by tomorrow between 10:00 and Noon and have a look.

The second open house will be at 1031 – 10th St. NE.  It’s another home that’s on the edge of the City where across the street there’s a green area.  It’s a one-owner home that’s been meticulously cared for along with some attractive updates.  My favorite room is the  den off the kitchen with its free-standing gas stove.  I can imagine how cozy that room is  on cold winter nights.  There are 3 bedrooms, oak floors, a finished basement, and a huge 2 car attached garage.  It’s comfortably priced at $92,500.  You can own this home cheaper than what you’d pay for rent in a comparable home.  Make a note to stop by and I’m sure you’ll agree it’s well worth the money.

Realizing I had a few groceries to pick up for a dear old home-bound friend, I stopped late this afternoon at Fareway to pick up a few things she wanted.  Of course her favorite is chocolate ice cream and has to be purchased in the gallon tubs so it lasts longer.  Yes, she does like her ice cream.  Since the freezer is near the express check-out, there was a young man standing in the longer line.  He didn’t realize I was trying to get into that freezer, so I tapped him on the shoulder and said, “I’m not trying to cut into your line, I just need to get into that freezer.”  He blushed and stepped aside.  I went to grab a tub of chocolate and when I pulled it out, another gallon fell out and went rolling on the floor.  The young man reached over and picked it up and put it back in the freezer for me.  I thanked him along with saying, “All this ice cream isn’t for me.”  He smiled again.  While standing there waiting, I noticed he had only one item which was a package of instant Rice-A-Roni.  By the looks of him, he must’ve just left work because he looked as if he put in a long hard day’s labor.

I couldn’t help myself by saying, “Is that all you’re having for supper?”  He blushed again and nodded.  I then said, “You really should have more of a balanced meal.”  After I said that I was suddenly struck with a very sad thought.  He likely didn’t have any more money that what that package cost.  It made me all the more sad seeing him pull out of his pocket a fistful of change and counted out the exact amount needed, and then sadly glanced back at me while walking out.

As I was driving out of the parking lot, I couldn’t help but think of how many struggling young people there are living in the shadows of our so-called robust economy who’re simply trying to stay alive. Seems those who have so much have become blind to those who have so little that sometimes it’s nothing more than a fistful of change at the end of a hard work week.

Gooey

103 27th SW-2Nearly my entire day was spent taking care of loose ends concerning listings and closings that’ll be taking place soon.  Another new listing came on board which is located at 103 – 27th St. SW here in Mason City.  The current owner has done a great deal of updating on it to where it should be attractive to first time home buyers.  I really like the family room which has sliding doors that leads to an upper deck.  It’s high enough off the ground to where it feels more like a balcony.  We have it listed at $99,500 which I believe is a good buy for someone looking for a 3 bedroom home that needs little or no work, and of course it’s located in the popular southwest side of our City.

One of my dear friends called today to share some things that’ve been happening in her life of late which saddened me greatly.  The story she told was reminiscent of similar ones I’ve heard many times before.  It took a great deal of internal strength to admit the fact that her children have been taking advantage of her financially, but thankfully she’s decided to dig her heels in and take a stand by saying, “No more!”  She went on to say how she raised them the best she could, they all make more money than she does, and yet they continue to think she owes them. I couldn’t help but say, “Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?”

There must be some sort of genetic flaw in me to where I couldn’t imagine looking for a free handout from my parents.  Every time I see or hear of people taking financial  advantage of their parents or grandparents, I have to tie my tongue down.  Don’t ever think it’s just a fluke because I’ve seen it happen in even the most upstanding families. There’s always one or two within a familial cluster who are the ringleaders of greed, and usually the ones who’ve done the least, but certainly the first to be holding their hands out for their inherited portions.  I read on a t-shirt once some years ago which gave me a good laugh which said, “Legacies should be abolished.”  When you think about it, perhaps many of our greedy relatives would treat their oldsters differently.

On a lighter and perhaps a bit devilish note, I happened to be visiting with a well known over the weekend and the name of a guy came up in conversation whom we’ve both crossed paths with over these long years.  I discovered both he and myself are of the same opinion of that aging gent.  I went on to say, “The first time I met him so very many years ago, I didn’t care for him enough to where I’d go out of my way to avoid entering into any sort of dialog.”  His response was a classic when saying, “Every time I’ve been around him, I’ve always considered him gooey.”  I got a good laugh out of his comparing him to something “gooey”.  Just before we finished, I said, “I’ll continue to thank you for giving me a new word to use whenever I encounter another similar to him.”  I’m sure you know a few who’re syrupy, icky, gloppy, sloppy, schmaltzy and slushy.  So there you have it, you’ve got one or two gooey acquaintances too.

The above photo is of our new listing located at 103 – 27th St. SW, Mason City, Iowa

Sterzing Potato Chips

Sterzing Potato ChipsFor a while there this morning, I thought we’d be getting some rain, but after Noon arrived, the cloud cover was replaced by sun.  I’ve been noticing the smells of summer are subtly being replaced by those familiar earthy Fall perfumes.  I’m still scratching my head wondering where May, June and July went.  I’ll certainly have to pay more attention to those pleasant months when they arrive again next year.

Since I didn’t have any real estate appointments today, I changed my clothes and went back to some menial labor that’s been patiently waiting for me.   Knowing I’d be outside in the grass, I made sure to spray my shoes and pant legs all the way up to my waist with Off insect repellant just in case I would unknowingly find myself again in grass infested with fleas.  I’m still not completely healed from those 15 bites I received over two weeks ago, and hopefully I won’t be dealing with multiple bites like those for a very long time.

One of my dear clients called this afternoon just to see what’s been happening on my side of the fence.  It was a welcome call to where we must’ve talked for over 45 minutes while covering joys and concerns with each other’s lives.  Since I’ve known this person for a very long time, we rarely mince words when sharing our thoughts. I believe everyone should have a circle of friends whom can be trusted without resign due to reciprocal selfless respect having been built over a number of years.  I did share an idea I have about a business I believe will do very well here, and not at all to my surprise, my client felt the same way.  So now I have to bring the business person and a building owner together.  I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

Looking ahead at my work calendar, I already know it’ll be a busy week, and I’m staying confident there’ll be several of my listings being sold.  What I believe is driving the activity in our market at this time, is the desire of buyers to be completely settled-in before our cold weather arrives.  Keep in mind, if a buyer is going to be getting a loan, the closing of that loan could be 45 – 60 days out from the day a purchase agreement is signed.

There’ve been a handful of exceptionally annoying happenings this summer which convinces me all the more that there are many people who are either way too busy with bigger projects, or just plain lazy.  I’ve called people about giving me bids for work I want completed, so they show up, I explain what I want, they tell me they’ll get back to me, but never do.  For sure we need more tradespeople in North Iowa who possess incentive and want to better themselves via an earned living.

About a week ago I stopped at Fareway here in Mason City, and noticed a new brand of potato chips in boxes near the entrance of the store.  I’d not heard of them before and when looking closer, I noticed they were made by a family owned company in Burlington Iowa.  They were more expensive than regular chips, but I thought I’d buy a package and give them a try.  Oh Mercy!  They were the absolute best chips I’ve had in many years.  They’re not as salty as nearly all others, and have a taste that sends me back to my childhood when eating what was considered a delicacy at the time.  They’re called Sterzing Potato Chips and made by Sterzing Food Company out of Burlington, Iowa.  Give them a try, and I’m sure you’ll agree they’re a cut above the rest.  And of course, buying Iowa made just makes sense.

Sterzing Chips

Pride at 645

645 S. Pierce Ave-1I was glad to finally get off my “rocking horse” of a day.  From the time I arrived early at the office this morning, I found much of my first hours had to be consumed by the requests of another agent’s email that was sent to me at a quarter to one this morning.  I can understand dedication, but really?   I don’t even want to think about being immersed in real estate that late because everyone knows humans must have their “down time” to function properly.  I did get my day back to normal after fulfilling those requests and then moved on with my already scheduled appointments.

Fortunately I did get another gnawing project finished to where all the doc were signed and everyone happy.  We have new residents to our City which I consider to be a much needed addition.  Their two teenage sons couldn’t have been more charming to where I almost asked their mother where they managed to acquire such good manners. What surprised me the most, was they weren’t playing with any electronic gadgets while quietly seated for well over a half hour.  After they left I thought to myself, “Please don’t allow yourselves to be pulled into the bad habits of many of our resident teens.” I have a “feeling” I’ll be crossing paths with that family again, and in a very good way.

One of my clients dropped off an abstract of title for a home I sold of theirs which contained two parts.  The first 21 entries were on a separate 100+ year old sheet of paper and exhibited the most beautiful cursive handwriting.  Before I deliver it to the abstract company for continuation, I’m going to take a photo of it and post it on a future article.  Since those entries were made in various years way back when, the styles are different due to the entries being made by more than one man.  Keep in mind, back in the 1800′s, nearly all abstract of title entries were made by male clerks.  I’d sure like to see a young man from our times being able to freely write like that.  He would certainly be in great demand, don’t you think?  Oh, and remember, those entries were made with pens dipped into ink wells, so all the more care had to be taken against making a mistake.

Since I just received full loan approval on three of my sold listings, I spent some time driving around and placing “sold” riders atop my for sale signs.  I have to make sure the general public continues to see that Holtz Realty does sell homes.  It looks like August’s market is picking up earlier in the month than normal which makes me happy.

I just received a price reduction on a home I’ve had listed for about three months.  It’s in an estate, and must be sold to get it settled.  We’ve had a few offers on it before the Executor was able to get more of the personal property out which I believe affected those buyers’ perception of value.   After I walked thru it yesterday, I’m convinced it’s the best buy in Mason City under $30K.  I do hope an industrious and hard working young person buys it before it gets snatched up by one of our local “rental barons”.  It’s got good bones, a newer furnace, siding, and shingles.  As far as I’m concerned, all it needs is a good cosmetic face-lift.  The size of the lot alone would make me as a buyer want to pull the trigger immediately.  Click on the link and see opportunity written all over it.

645 S. Pierce Mason City

Once you get it beautified, you’ll be filled with pride at 645 S. Pierce.  Do not wait because it’s gonna sell!

Underground Parking

320 1st St NE-13Once in a while it’s good to be reminded that we’re all one group of humans who’re intricately connected with each other as well as the world around us. I just happened to be reminded of that ever-present fact several times today.

The first reminder was while checking on a vacant building today and finding that somehow a stray half-grown cat managed to get inside.  Oh Mercy!  Don’t even ask how by the strangest of luck I managed to get it back out the front door without being scratched or bitten.  Judging by the lightening speed it ran out, I doubt it’ll be back any time soon.  I’m still wondering how in heaven’s name it managed to get it.  That cat should be sending me a meow thank-you for deciding to check on that building today, and for no real apparent reason.

My second reminder started several weeks ago when visiting a client of mine and seeing a relatively new dishwasher out at the curb.  I said to him, “What’s the deal with that dishwasher?”  “It’s not going to fit the style of my new appliances so the first person that stops can have it.” he replied.  Of course he then went on to badger me about taking it because I was the first person to stop.  I couldn’t have said “No” enough times until I finally said, “Help me get it in the back end of my vehicle and I’ll put it in storage.” So off to storage it went while dismissing it as another cast-off accepted by yours truly.

Well, I guess my taking that dishwasher was meant to be because yesterday while doing a preview of a home that’ll be coming on the market, the owner informed me that the ancient dishwasher in his kitchen didn’t work and didn’t have the funds to replace it.  So guess where that dishwasher I placed in storage is now located?  You got it!  It’s in the kitchen of his home and working beautifully.  I didn’t realize how near-new it was until I went to pick it up and inspecting it more closely before I loaded it.

So there you’ve heard my two examples of how we are intricately connected and truly meant to be in tune to the needs of humans, animals, and everything else that make up the world in which we live.  I’m still contemplating on what made me the happiest today when thinking about my confrontation with that naughty little pussy, and the re-gifting of a much needed dishwasher.

My last appointment was over at Prairie Place on 1st which is the condominium complex near our Historic Downtown.  The more I’m in those units, the more I’ve become smitten by the quality of construction, the floor plans, the amenities, and of course the location.  The buyer activity is starting to pick up to where I’m remaining confident they’ll get sold soon once the interest in them starts snowballing.  I can’t imagine what could possibly turn the elderly away from those units because they’re safe, sound and secure.  Its underground parking reminds me of something found in a new high-end apartment tower in Chicago which faces Lake Michigan.

Guinea Pig

Guinea Pig-1This was again one of the most beautiful August days to where even the couple from out-of-State I’ve been showing homes to these past several days were in agreement.  Having pleasant weather while showing homes adds Nature’s extra touch of comfort.

Having had several conversations with retirees today, I’m convinced the un-spoken reason we’re getting more elderly people locating here, is because of the rat race they want to get away from–especially the traffic congestion.  The nearly unimaginable daily trials people have to endure just driving to and from work is hard for me to fathom.  Imagining a two hour commute in the morning and two hours in the evening five days a week makes me shiver even thinking about it.  It’s no wonder there are so many health problems with people living such lives of quiet desperation.  Mental stress can trigger an array of health issues.

Speaking of health issues, I was in near disbelief reading about a week ago the percentages of people in the United States that are taking opioids on a regular basis.  If my memory serves me it’s 35 – 40% of our general population.  It’s no wonder there are so many off the wall and dazed-eye people running around.  I also heard that some of our States are now filing suit against many of the drug companies that are manufacturing and promoting the sale of them.  I hope Iowa is one of them because those percentages in our State need to go way down.

Please don’t forget about my two public open houses tomorrow.  My first one which is in the morning from 10:00 am till Noon which is the 8 acre homesite located at 305 N. 1st Street in Fertile.  Every time I’m there, I envision myself creating a real working mini-farm and living happily ever after.  The second one which will be from 1:00 – 3:00 pm is located at 323 – 6th St. NW here in Mason City which exhibits the epitome of a master craftsman’s labors.  It’s worthy of being the cover story of “This Old House”.  Try to make it to one or both of them–especially 323 – 6th St. NW.

The experiment I’ve been personally conducting since March and ended several days ago has given me a real understanding of how nearly all of us have become so accustomed to society’s ways where any thoughts of change would be considered near impossible.

My personal test which I passed with flying colors was “pretending” my driver’s side window was permanently sealed forever and thus being forced to change my daily habits accordingly.  I discovered there’s absolutely no way to order and pick up food at a drive-thru, no drive-up banking, no drive-up cash machine, and no waving or hollering at someone while driving.

Since March I’ve learned that drive-thru eateries are not that important because most of them aren’t healthy anyway.  I learned to be more social at the banks by having to walk in for deposits and check cashing, and above all, I learned that anything having to do with a drive-thru creates a greater distance between companies and customers. After my “experiment” ended, forevermore I’ll consider a drive-thru nothing greater than a cattle stall where you must wait until you’re finished being milked.

Now that my personal test is over, there’ll continue to be some good lessons learned and positive changes made. I’m glad I was my own Guinea pig.

For Generations

For Generations-1Today was near non-stop with appointments and showings, and likely tomorrow will be a mirror image.  I’m just happy I was able to get everything accomplished without having anything hanging overnight and staring at me come morning. For certain, there were a few houses shown today that were nothing more than walk-ins and walk-outs.  I’ve fine-tuned tomorrow’s to where there shouldn’t be anymore like that.

Several days ago I made a follow-up courtesy call to a gentleman whom I happened to see in his yard while out showing homes.  Since the buyer hadn’t arrived, and him being just a few doors away, I figured I’d walk down and have a chat.

We talked about this and that at the time, along with a little teasing on my part regarding the state of his yard.  I wouldn’t say it was a pigpen, but rather more visibly discordant.  During my follow-up call he interjected by saying, “After talking to you in my yard those weeks ago, I suddenly realized I needed to start focusing and get some things done around my house which I’ve now been working on this past week.”

The only reason I bring this up, is that it oft times it takes a few words from someone completely out of another’s circle to create movement.  It sounded like my little teasing did trigger his upward and progressive movement.  I was thankful he didn’t take my comments in a bad way and start holding a grudge against me for crossing the line with my opinion on the current state of his home’s exterior.  Too bad we can’t instill a sense of pride in ownership/residency with all those living in North Iowa who reside in rickety homes with yards that are exceptionally unkempt.

I just received another major price reduction on 2831 – 4th St. NW here in Mason City to where it’s even all the more a fabulous buy at $310,000.00.  From what information has been shared with me, there’s been nearly a half million dollars spent on it considering what it was purchased for and the cost of its recently numerous big ticket upgrades. Now that’s what I call a real BUY!

One of my long term clients called today to give me an update on a project she’s been working on these past months.  I’m sure you’ve heard the question posed when someone asks you to describe another in just one word.  Well, this client I would most freely and willingly describe in one word as being fearless.  Without a doubt I’d say the key to her success has been her lack of fear of failure–especially when taking on projects that most wouldn’t just walk, but run from.

People like her are those whom I believe make good and lasting changes that survive death and live for generations. Many believe they’ve become immortal by having bushels of children, while others create good and lasting changes that are enjoyed by the general populous for years.  Now think of something you can create that will be admired as a great accomplishment for generations to come and all to enjoy.