Category Archives: Real Estate

The Look

The Look-1Today wasn’t the most eventful, yet for some reason the hours seemed to take flight from the time I arrived at my office.   I think what created it was my having been side-tracked by another Realtor calling and wanting to show Prairie Place on 1st at 9:00 a.m. this morning.  Since he’d never been in the complex, I had to make sure to give him a quick guided tour before his buyer arrived.  I’m still wondering how he thought he was going to be familiar enough with all the features being offered to have any kind of educated showing.  It would’ve been similar to the blind leading the blind.

I’ve just begun working on an ad campaign for those units with our surrounding county newspapers.  There are far more people living in our “hinterland” that likely don’t even know Prairie Place on 1st exists.  There’s no question Mason City offers some of the best senior oriented services in all of North Iowa.  Perhaps I’m going against the grain of what our City fathers consider to be Mason City’s future, but as far as I’m concerned we would have an even better opportunity to grow if we were make our City all the more attractive to retirees.  With the numbers of our seniors growing nationwide, it only makes sense to gear our goods and services towards them.  Like the “Field of Dreams”, if we build it, they will come.

Late this morning a prospective client called and asked if I would have time to take a look at his home which he’s been toying with the idea of selling.   Since I had some free time, I agreed and drove to the address given.  Since I’d never been inside it before, I just considered it one of our City’s standard two story homes built around the turn of the century.  I walked up the front steps, crossed the porch and knocked.  Since the door was ajar, I could hear him calling, “Come on in. The door’s open.”  I walked in and to my near jaw-drop surprise, I found myself having entered something one would only see in the movies.

Everywhere I looked there was something all the more breath-taking.  The carved pillars, the numerous built-ins, the tall ceilings, the grander than grand open staircase, and of course oodles of gorgeous wood floors.  He smiled and said while I was still looking a bit pie-eyed, “My home seems to have quite the effect on people when seeing it for the first time.”  It seemed I couldn’t stop saying, “Oh my! Your home is beautiful!”  He seemed impressed that I appreciated the interior craftsmanship that looked as good as it must have when first built.

He gave me the whole tour and when we finally sat down to visit about the listing process, I proceeded to inform him that if he should decide to sell it and not ask a king’s ransom, there’ll be many young professional or semi-professionals standing in line to purchase it.  Since he’s owned it for quite some time, I could sense a bit of resistance on his part as far as setting a timeline for placing it on the market, so we left it where he’d call me when he’s made up his mind to sell.

The tour  of that beauty was today’s visual treat for me.  There’s no question in my mind whomever had that home built definitely had money and not afraid to let people know it.  I know of many sleeping beauties in our City, but after today’s surprise, I think there are even more than I suspected.  It’s a good thing the seller didn’t take a picture of the look of wonderment that must’ve been on my face while surveying the detailed work of a late 1800′s finish carpenter.

2831 – 4th St. NW

2831 - 4th St. NWwww-1Today was one of those days where nearly everything I had originally planned to do was side-tracked by phone calls from buyers, sellers, and other agents who were all in need of assistance.  One of the agents calling when I picked up said, “I wasn’t expecting anyone to answer.”  I always consider such a statement a little odd to where I’ve been tempted to respond by saying, “So would you like me to hang up so you can leave a detailed message?”   Some people really don’t think before they speak, which is why far too many have created rifts with their families along with the general public.  I’ll not forget incidents over the years where one or two of my familiars would later back-peddle after saying something totally in-appropriate.  The most memorable one was when I would at times hear “Oh you know me.  I’m always saying something before thinking.”  Hmmm.  I’m still wondering if that particular person is still proud of such an “ability” to insult someone and get away with it.

One of my appointments today was with a young couple who came to my office to sign transfer documents on a closing coming up this week.  They had their son with them who’s just turning a year old.  Such a handsome young man who would give me a bright smile whenever I would say something to him.  His parents are very proud of him and I couldn’t help but say, “You’re very lucky to have such a beautiful as well as happy child.”  That little man had the brightest blue eyes I’ve seen in some time.  If I’d thought of it I would have said to them, “With such eyes, he’s telling us all the window to his soul is filled with great goodness.”

The one and only showing I had today took me to one of our not so delightful districts of our City.  While the buyer and I were out in the back yard, we heard a very loud male voice yelling, “Were the “f” are your “f’ing” socks?”  We turned and looked and there stood a burly man appearing to be in his 30′s glaring down on a boy likely around five or six years old.  Believe me, that wasn’t all the filthy language being spewed out of his mouth and directed at that little boy who by then was sobbing.  The “big boy” finally noticed us across the alley and must’ve decided he’d better stop with is abusive language.  He turned and went stomping back into his house while slamming the door behind him.  And many continue to wonder why we have so many naughty teenagers in our midst.  That showing was definitely a waste of time because my buyer was quick to mention as we were walking back to our vehicles, “Who in their right mind would want to live across the alley from that guy?”   I couldn’t help but agree.

The above photo is the new one I took yesterday of my listing at 2831 – 4th St. NW which I had open this weekend.  We’re now getting some solid interest in it since being reduced, and considering it about time buyers are realizing it’s an excellent buy.  There’s not one major thing that hasn’t been done to it.  The owners recently paid over $190K for it several years ago and went on to spend over $200K in improvements.  It’s just like a brand new home!  There’s no way anyone could even consider building a quality home like it is unless they’re ready to spend close to $500K to get similar quality.  Believe me 2831 – 4th NW offers more bang for the buck than any other ranch in its price range.  I’m still hoping my customer from out East who’s looking at re-locating here pulls the trigger before it gets sold to someone else.

Stacked Decks

Stacked DecksThis is certainly going to be a September to remember with these endless days of heat.  Hopefully we will get the rain that’s been forecasted.  North Iowa is exceptionally dry to where I’m sure the reason our trees are shedding their leaves so early is because of the lack of moisture.  The oak trees around town appear to be in very sad shape.  I did take about three hours off this morning to get some menial outside labor done ahead of the projected rain along with me being booked solid with appointments tomorrow.

I was out in the countryside showing an acreage late this afternoon, and while driving there I could see how quickly the corn and bean plants are drying.  The acreage was a possibility for the buyers, but there’s going to be some necessary updates they’ll be making more sooner than later if they should purchase it.  When looking at the overall square footage, I knew it was going to be tight.  It sort of reminded me of something you’d find on a river or lake which was originally built as a weekend get-away.

Speaking of acreages, I’m having 305 N. 1st Street in Fertile open to the public tomorrow afternoon from 1:00 – 3:00 pm.  Now that the price is so low, any ambitious young person would be crazy not to jump on it.  I’ve been on many acreages over the years, but this one’s setting is about as good as it gets.  The 5 acres of timber protecting the building site from the north is a real plus most don’t consider.  By just painting the exterior cedar siding would make a world of difference.  The home has great bones and will work for the new buyer for many years to come.  I only hope whomever purchases it will bring it back to its original glory.

The public open house I’m having tomorrow morning from 10:00 a.m. till Noon is located at 2831 – 4th St. NW here in Mason City which is now reduced to $295,500.  This is yet another home that’s way under priced for the amount of dollars that have been recently spent on it.  I don’t even want to mention how many thousands were invested.  It’s just like walking into a brand new home.  And don’t forget, the garage is so big, it’ll easily hold four cars.  This is another home that whose new buyers will be ever thankful in time for purchasing it.

Since most of the general public in Mason City know that Philip Chodur is my brother and being the one our “powers that be” decided to dismiss in favor of this new proposed plan being overly-promoted by a group of our “special interest” citizens.  I’ve held my tongue for a very long time concerning what’s been reported by the media to the general public, as well as truths that’ve not been shared which have created skewed impressions by our Citizenry from the very beginning.  Irregardless Philip being my brother or not, anyone knowing the rest of the story would walk away like I did and say, “This changing of horses in the middle of the stream is craziness especially when his loan for the hotel did get approved!”

The reason I’m speaking now, is that there’ve been four different times this past week where people from the general public have stepped forward and asked for my opinion on this business.  I said to each one of them, “If you want to hear the rest of the story, I’ll tell you, but keep in mind, I have nothing to loose or gain by telling the facts.”  I told each one of them, and they all said something to the effect, “Why wasn’t that in the newspaper?”  I quickly replied, “Because we have reporters who are bias in their reporting which is why I rarely ever read articles written my one person in particular.”

In the game of life, how can we ever make sound decisions for ourselves and our community when we’re playing with stacked decks in favor of our special interest groups?  I’m growing all the more tired of half truths and skewed impressions put forward by people who’ve never owned their own businesses where they had to be on the front lines every day of the week.  Ignorance is not bliss.  Everyone wonders what’s wrong with Mason City to where they can’t get it right.  My take on it is there’ve always been a handful of special interest people who think they’re the power brokers in our City along with knowing they can feed spoonfuls of questionable information to our uneducated public and make them run with the hook in belief.  “Shame on them!” I say.

Lone Feeder

Lone FeederWith the temps hovering around 90 degrees this afternoon, I’m sure everyone must’ve been having flashbacks to July.  It’s certainly a much drier heat and by the looks of the trees, they’re also struggling with this late drought.  It’s not surprising to hear how wild and crazy some of our general public have been these past days.

I mentioned to someone today how in years gone by, days like these were referred to as “dog days”, which referred to the time of the year following the rising of the star Sirius which was considered the “scorcher” star.  The Greeks connected its arrival with heat, drought, lethargy, biting dogs, and bad luck.  When a youngster, I remember the old ones telling us children never to tease dogs during days like these because they’d be more likely to bite. So here we come to the end of another dog day.

Two different times this week I was stood up at scheduled appointments.  Both times the people called or text back hours later with feeble excuses.  As far as I’m concerned it’s becoming all the more common to where one can almost “sense” a no show before it happens.  Perhaps it’s the timbre of the voice on the other end of the line that offers a subtle hint of carelessness.

Another caller today was arguing with me about the price I have on a home to where he’s convinced he’ll be buying it when the price gets reduced down to his range.  He didn’t hear a word I said when saying, “It’ll be long sold and closed before it gets down to the price you’re thinking.” After I said that, he simply resumed chattering about why it isn’t worth anywhere near the price I have it listed.  He then started bragging about his motor home which he believes is worth every penny he paid for it.  I couldn’t help but turn a little wicked by saying, “I’ve always considered them nothing more than mattresses offering curb service.”  He actually laughed thinking it was a joke.  Oh well, perhaps after thinking about what I said, he’ll realize it was a punch below the belt.

After a good many months of working with a customer, I finally managed to sell her a home today. It’s funny how there are times when a buyer tells you he or she is interested in mid-century ranches, but then end up buying a grand two story filled with gorgeous woodwork and floors.  I’m convinced it’s not the changing of one’s mind, but more so the evolution of tastes.  It’s almost like saying you don’t like tapioca pudding when you’ve never eaten it, but after eating it, you find you like it better than your plain old vanilla pudding.

Speaking of beautiful woodwork, I was in a home yesterday that’s filled to the brim with absolutely gorgeous oak and maple floors and woodwork.  Now that’s a home worth writing home about.  I nearly had a jaw-drop looking at the amount of detail contained within.  Yes, back in that century, finish carpenters were craftsmen who were exceptionally proud of their work.  Without question, its main floor is a work of art.

I’ve already posted online the three open houses my office will be hosting this weekend.  There’ll be two on Saturday, and one on Sunday. I’m just glad we’ve got more listings coming up in the near future because our inventory is shrinking.

Open Houses

The above photo is one I took of a charming little bird feeding all by itself in a tree.  I’ve named him/her the lone feeder.

425 – 1st St. NE

425 - 1st St. NEAnother sale of mine came to a very soft landing to where the buyers made mention more than once that it was all because of me they were able to purchase the home most don’t even dream of owning.  While doing our final walk-thru today, the buyer mentioned how she could see herself living in it for a very long time, and I can see why.  I has some of the most breathtaking views.  They worked very hard for what they have and certainly deserve to have a home they’ll be proud to own.

I’ve been busy of late with first time buyers whom I’ve taken under my wing so to make sure they’re not buying something they’ll regret owning in a real big way. I’m finding many do-it-yourself sellers who “think” they know what they’re doing, when in reality their updates are weak at best.  Just these past five days I’ve noticed some real flaws that most would’ve missed.  I blushed a little when a buyer said to me this afternoon, “I’m so glad I have you as my Realtor because I would’ve never noticed the problems you find in the homes you’ve shown us.”   All I could say was, “It’s my job.”

This extra warm weather we’ve been having reminds me of how it used to be during the  last part August in years gone by.  I’m really not complaining, but this late season heat has a different “feel” to it.  I can’t explain the difference other than it is definitely real.

Since we’ve not had rain in several weeks, our flowers are showing signs of stress.  I’ve had to do some extra watering to keep them smiling.  I pointed out the buyers a huge clump of Sedum at the rear of the home I closed on today.  The honey bees were scurrying about gathering nectar from the flowers.  I’m always happy to see honey bees in the wild. They are Nature’s pollinators and we must safeguard them.

The conversion 4 plex I listed on Monday has got me pumped up to where I’m going to really work at finding a buyer who’s not afraid of a little work and can see what that structure will look like when it’s converted back to a single family residence.  Whomever converted it to apartments didn’t butcher it like I’ve seen done to others.  The above photo is of the grand oak front staircase which commands the foyer.  On the opposite wall is a set of pocket doors which would normally lead into a parlor.

What I found all the more appealing is that much of the oak woodwork has not been painted.  Stripping paint off doors and woodwork is extremely tedious and time consuming.  Believe me, I’ve spent countless hours over the years stripping paint and varnish. Varnish is a cake walk, but paint is the real patience tester.

If it were me buying it, I’d keep the third floor apartment intact while converting the first and second floors back to their original state. The wiring, pluming, heating and air conditioning is up to date.  The roof and siding look good, and the sidewalks aren’t all broken up.  I would create another driveway on the west side of the home that would lead back to a newly constructed two or three stall garage, and lastly, I’d install a high-end privacy fence and call it good to go.  Now that’s my proposed plan for 425 – 1st NE and I’m sticking to it.  By the way, it’s located not even a half block from the newly built high-end condominiums I have listed which is telling us that neighborhood is evolving in a very good way.  Let’s keep the momentum going.  425 – 1st NE would not just make a great family home, but also become a long term and high yielding investment.

An Illusion

cafe-wall-bigHopefully everyone is enjoying these last days of summer to where they’re seizing each day to it’s fullest.  As a matter of fact, the last days of summer from years gone by hold for me some of the most precious of memories.  Speaking of them now bring back visions of the gathering of produce from our gardens.  These were the days when the raspberries were growing heaving with fruit and buckets of them picked to be sold to waiting buyers.  It was always the race against time to get as many picked before the frosts arrived.  Some years were bountiful while others not.

Whenever out picking with another, there’d be jokes told, stories weaved, and crazy songs being sung. Whomever worked those rows during those years still have vivid memories of the light, the sights, the sounds, and smells. We always had the company of the honey bees going from flower to flower and paying absolutely no attention to a human’s hand or arm.  Truth be told, no one was ever stung by one of them. It may have been tedious and time consuming, but there was always the essence of something special taking place while out there.  Perhaps it was due to being as close as one could get to having a real communion with our Mother Nature.

Please don’t forget to check out the two public open houses I’ll be hosting tomorrow.  The first one is a charming 3 bedroom bungalow located at 107 S. Rhode Island which just today received a price reduction.  It’s a beautiful home in a great neighborhood.  Even the appliances are included.

My second open house is located at 1031 – 10th St. NE which is a one owner 3 bedroom ranch with a main floor den with a gas fireplace. It also has a big 2 car attached garage with a large storage room attached.  If anyone loves nature, this is the place to be.  It’s located on a very quiet street with great views of a green space across the street.  You won’t find any better than this.

We have another purchase contract signed on Prairie Place on 1st this week which should give a signal to everyone over 55 years old that this is the “Place” to be.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s not just a great place to call home, but an investment that’ll continue to grow in value.  If you’re having even the slightest of interest, please give me a call and I’ll schedule a private tour of the complex.  There’s no question in my mind that after they’re all sold out, there’ll be seniors in North Iowa who’ll be kicking themselves for not buying one.

Just recently I visited with a person who seems to believe the world is out to get him.  There’s likely not a day that passes where another question is raised and a suspected conspiracy taking place in his midst.  For some time I refused to listen to his innuendos regarding people in his family and/or those in the general public.  Not long into the conversation I said, “You’re well over 70 years of age and I believe it’s time to stop this craziness.”  I know he didn’t like hearing that, but sometimes people like him need to wake up and realize the world is not out to get them.  It’s all an illusion they’ve created in their minds.  Now please, if I start acting like him, I want someone to give me a good slapping back to reality for which I’ll later be gladly thankful.

Soft Transitions

Soft Transitions-1If one would ask me what work days I dread the most, I’d say the Tuesdays following a three day holiday weekend.  Today was likely one of the worst due to not only sales calls coming in, but also calls for rentals.  Some of the callers for rentals can get almost belligerent with their questioning which causes me to bristle all the more.  There’s no question in my mind that the numbers are rising in our general public who have exceptionally weak phone skills as well as manners.  Perhaps all the voice activated answering systems many of the corporations have in place are creating people who treat real-life phone answers like machines.

Yesterday I spoke about a handful of offers that seem to be going nowhere.  After the close of today’s business, I see possibly one of them coming together on price while the rest of them will quietly fade away as missed opportunities, and later be looked back by those involved saying, “I should have, could have, and would have.”  Just today someone mentioned something about a missed opportunity he had about five years ago, and still kicks himself for not buying the home.

People really do get bent out of shape over amounts without looking at the entirety of the purchase price vs asking price.   For example if you use the rounded amount of say $100,000.00 and a particular buyer and seller are at what appears to be a great distance apart when stuck at say a $10,000.00 price difference between what’s being offered and what the seller is willing to take, that amount is only 10% more the buyer would have to pay, and 10% less the seller would have to take to get the deal done.  When you look at it in such a light, what’s the big issue over 10%?  Whenever we go shopping for bargains, we see items selling at 20%, 30% and even 50% less than the original prices.  Too many are stuck on numbers instead of percentages–especially when it comes to housing.

Oh Mercy!  Did I ever have a real eye-opening experience today when visiting an apartment where a young couple is living who’re expecting.  First off, they can’t be any older than maybe 19 or 20.  The apartment appeared as something you’d see in a television documentary about life in a 3rd world country.  There in the corner was a raw mattress on the floor with no sheets or blankets on it along with no pillow case covers.  I shuttered even trying to imagine sleeping on something like that.  I don’t believe there was even a couch or upholstered chair in the unit.  All I could see were clothes on the floor, that mattress, a TV blaring, and dirty dishes in the kitchen sink.  And to think there’s baby coming!  I have a feeling I’m going to have a nightmare tonight.

On a positive note, I showed one of our historic homes today and decided I’m falling all the more in like with it’s charming staircase.  I’ve always been a pushover for open staircases.   They always seem to set the mood of a home when walking in, as well as creating a pleasant transition between the general living floor and the nighttime floor.

If you think about it, there are a multitude of reasons why builders over the centuries created open staircases.  I consider their primary jobs to be ones creating soft transitions.