Category Archives: Real Estate

Druid Priest

Druid PriestIf only we could have days like today up until the first of the year, and then start warming up.  Sounds a bit scary when considering the official 1st day of winter doesn’t start until the 22nd of this month.  At least we haven’t had any of that evil white stuff to contend with thus far.

One of my late morning appointments took me out to a home that’s a bank foreclosure.  When I arrived, I warned the buyer as we were walking up the sidewalk that from what was told me by a neighbor, the home had been vacant for more that a few years.  Empty homes that are continually sealed for a long time, tend to have build-ups of mold and mildew–especially when the utilities have been cut.

Well it happened.  When I opened the storm door to get into the lock box, I could already smell mold, and made a knee-jerk comment about it to my buyer standing behind me.  When I finally got the door unlocked, I was shocked to find furniture and personal belongings still there.  The first thing I noticed was a leather chair in the living room that was covered with mold.  Yuck!  We then noticed that the roof must’ve been leaking in the dining room for a very long time because the ceiling plaster and insulation was on the floor.

If you could only imagine the smells that house was saturated with from top to bottom.  The creepiest were the dressers, chests of drawers, bedding, clothes, and all the other items one would consider very personal still there.  It certainly gave us the impression that the owner simply vanished, and nobody payed any attention until the bank took it back for non-payment.

While driving away, I was thinking how fortunate I was that one of the neighbors alerted me about it many months ago.  Whomever ends up buying it, is going to either camouflage all the mold and mildew that’s likely entered every crack and corner, or they’ll be doing some major tear-out of flooring and plaster.  Today’s experience was another example of what I teasingly refer to as “Realtor abuse.”

Looks like I’m going to have a long day tomorrow with late afternoon showings.  Not that I’m complaining, but I’ve always thought it interesting when people want to look at homes long after the sun has set.  If there’d be any bad first impressions, I’d say looking at something in the cold and darkness would certainly be a “top of the list” candidate.  Oh well, we just do what we have to do and move forward.

I’m very surprised 1415 – 9th St. SE hasn’t sold yet.  We’ve had one offer in it, but couldn’t come together on price.  I know it’s the Season, but considering the shortage we have of newer ranch homes, it should’ve been sold by now.  Tell friends and relatives!

One of my dear friends who was teasing me today about things I should do to get more home sales under my belt, mentioned something about gifting religious articles.  I bristled and said, “Before doing that, I’d rather be considered an apostate who’s looking into becoming a Druid priest.”  I think he got the general drift of my thoughts regarding such a suggestion.  In these times, many in marketing are looking all the more for gimmicks, and it seems religion is making its way into the arenas of their marketing.

A Little Fun

320-1st-St.-NE-306-3It certainly wasn’t one of those days I’d write home about.  If I didn’t know better, I would’ve sworn it was as if our City was transported somewhere on the coastline of a Scandinavian country during an overcast winter day.  The air was exceptionally damp where it was almost fog-like, while certainly happy I was inside most of the day.

My public open house at Prairie Place in 1st was a great success and hopefully there’ll be another sale or two soon.  I arrived there about a half hour early so to make sure all the lights were on in the units and get the flyers and treats laid out for the visitors.  I was glad to find a good mixture of age groups which as far as I’m concerned, is really what there should always be in senior housing.  About three or four of the groups showed real interest to where I made sure they had all printouts with them before they walked out.  There were some left-over homemade cookies, so I made sure to leave them with one of the residents for their weekly Monday morning coffee that takes place at 9:00 am.  With there still being people there after closing time, I didn’t get all the units locked up, signs pulled, and back at my office until around 4:00 pm which is a rarity for being that late.  All I can say is that the more I’m there, the more comfortable I am with the whole concept of Prairie Place on 1st.  Once the remaining units are sold, there’ll certainly be a waiting list for future vacancies.

Just as I was driving home, I realized I needed to stop at Menards to pick up a few supplies.  That store is on a par with Walmart in my book to where I get in and get out as fast as I can for fear I’ll see something all the more shocking.  I have no idea where those people come from, but some can appear to be off-worldly by the way they dress in public, the way they’ve let themselves go, and above all, what comes out of their mouths.  I may sound wicked, but some of them remind me of characters out of the movie “Idiocracy”.

Only five more days and counting when the sun will alas starting shining a little bit more until we’re back on track to having at least some normal daylight hours. I mentioned to a dear friend this morning how much I dislike this time of year.  The cold and darkness seems to not only enter our bones, but also creep deep into our psyches.  There’ve been numerous times when I’ve told people who’re feeling a bit down these dark days, to turn all the more lights on in their homes so to counter-act those fleeting symptoms of light deprivation that nearly all of  have to one degree or another.

Not sure if anyone noticed them at my public open house today, but I decided to wear my vibrant red socks that came with a package of dress socks I purchased several months ago.  I thought they looked rather flamboyantly charming with my blue suede shoes and beige slacks.  One of my relatives who I ran into today may have thought I was starting to steer away from my more conservative dress code or possibly having become a little touched.  In spite of our cold and dark days, we still gotta have a little fun. Don’t you think?

In the Wrong Hands

In the Wrong HandsAlas I was able to get one of my more difficult sales of this year closed today.  Isn’t it odd how sometimes you almost “know” what kind of merry-go-round you’ll be on from just a first encounter?  All I can say is I’m glad it’s sold and hopefully everyone’s happy, but I don’t want to have another one like it again any time soon.  If there’s one thing I find the most tedious and time consuming, is dealing with the dramas of others.

Just this past week, I was beginning to wonder if I’ve become a beacon for a handful in our universe who’re hell-bent on keeping me pulled into their senseless “look at me” dramas.  I’m convinced there are those who intentionally kick up dust so to get attention.  Like what’s been said for centuries, “There are always those who if they can’t get attention in a good way, they’ll get it in a bad.”  Since we’re in our Christmas Season, I had my own wicked thought today of sending a handful of certified return receipt requested Christmas cards to some “pot stirrers”, where inside the card I would simply write without signature, “Thinking of you.”

Late this afternoon we had our once a year Chamber of Commerce appreciation gathering which took place on the third floor of our Chamber Building.  I arrived about 15 minutes late and certainly surprised to find so few people there.  I mentioned that fact to one of the gentleman, and his reply was, “Don’t worry, the crowd will be getting bigger as the minutes pass.”  In just those 30 minutes while there, I found him correct when seeing the numbers had rapidly grown.

There were several people in attendance whom I’d not seen or able to visit with for some time, so having time to play catch-up was well worth my making an appearance.  Someone asked me earlier today why I don’t go to all the regular functions that take place throughout the year, and I truthfully replied by saying, “I’ve never done well in large crowds because there’s usually too many people in such small spaces to where it becomes stifling to me.”  I’d rather be perched somewhere above quietly watching all the interactions below.

A dear friend of mine called this afternoon just to see what I’ve been up to.  Since he’s not an easy one to make laugh, I had to tell him about a visitor I had yesterday whose sentences were filled with “me’s” and “I’s” to where I was convinced that the “all about me” mentality is pan-generational.  It saddened me a bit when realizing that person has some really deep insecurities going on to where it’s become a crusade to get others to help acknowledge an illusion of self-worth.

Today I scheduled a public open house for Prairie Place on 1st for this coming Sunday along with having a large ad placed in the Globe Gazette.  As chance would have it, there was a similar sized and aged unit just listed over in Clear Lake in the “Gardens” condos that’s about $50K more than the most expensive one at Prairie Place.  I’m going to be sure to take a printout of it with me on Sunday for the buyers to compare.  It won’t take a rocket scientist to realize the great values being offered.  Do tell all the people you know who’re 55 and older about Sunday’s viewing time from 1:00 – 3:00 pm.

Just to let you all know, I happened to read a news feed several days ago where the German government has discovered Chinese spies setting up bogus Linkedin accounts and getting people to connect with them so they can then gather information about their contacts.  Scary isn’t it?  As was said back in my high school days by an aged yet exceptionally intelligent instructor, “Knowledge is power and information in the wrong hands can be deadly.” With that said, be sure you know who you’re connecting with on Linkedin.

Christmas Vacation

Christmas VacationBeing unable to put my finger on it, I’ve come to the conclusion that today was just one of those strange ones that arrive at random without rhyme or reason creating quirky, yet memorable happenings as I’m living thru them.

Thank goodness the snow flurries were just that, and left nearly as quickly as they arrived.  Certainly without complaints, I’d say the longer the snow stays away, the shorter our winter will seem.  Each year, I’m seeing more clearly the signs of our growing Zone have been changed from 4 to 5.  With that said, we should be experiencing two weeks warmer weather on both ends of Winter–a later Fall and an earlier Spring.

My public open house at 1415 – 9th St. SE had a good turnout today with not much of a down time while there.  There’s been a greater than normal number of people circling that home with there being 2nd and 3rd showings to the same buyers, but there seems nobody ready to pull a trigger and make an offer.  I think part of the problem is our being in the midst of our Holiday porthole which is creating too many other important things on people’s plates.  Whatever the reason for it not being sold as of yet, someone’s going to get a great home for the money.  I absolutely love its main floor family room which includes a gas log fireplace.

Speaking of fireplaces, most people have no clue how expensive it is to have a good one professionally installed.  Even if you’re doing a gas insert on an existing wood fireplace, the prices normally start in the thousands.  Of course they’re worth it if you spend more time at home during winter’s early mornings and extended evenings.  There’s nothing better than a gas log to take the chill out of a home which quickly creates an added ambiance.

With my late afternoon being free, I decided to run off to a church service out of town. The experience I had there was just another episode of the funky day I was handed.  The sermon was flat, the readers hadn’t practiced, and the church was a bit chilly.

There was a young man with an OK voice up front leading the congregation in song.  I’m sure he was wondering why so few people were singing which included me, because whomever picked the bulk of their sung music must’ve did a random pick-thru of Advent music.  Oh Mercy!  The syncopation and exceptionally wide voice ranges abounded to where I think their song leader was the only person in church that was actually singing all the lines.  I felt like I was in some sort of wanna-be new age church where you’re supposed to feel like getting up and rocking in the aisles.  You may think all ages are capable of freely singing such music, when actually it takes practice, practice and more practice to get it comfortably right.  And that’s if they have seasoned voices capable of singing such pieces.

Oh I have to share with you the funniest sight I had last night.  Just as I was walking to my car out at Hy-Vee West, I noticed three people attempting to place a real Christmas tree atop their low-slung newer vehicle.  The Hy-Vee worker was saying something to them as he was backing away after helping them with it’s hoisting.  Believe it or not, there those two were getting in their car with that tree just sitting on its rooftop with absolutely nothing holding it down.  Now you know where my thoughts were going.  A quick stop would send that tree flying forward and possibly hitting another car.  A rapid acceleration would send it careening in the opposite direction and possibly going thru the windshield of a following vehicle.  And lastly, even the slightest of turns would give it a good roll off and into a ditch or curbside.  Now just think how many hundreds of scratches there’ll be on the roof of their nearly new vehicle when they finally notice them.

That whole visual was reminding me of several episodes when watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  I’m still wondering how many times that Christmas tree hit the ground before they got it home.

Swinton’s Word Book

Swinton's Word BookOh Mercy!  The wind was back at it again today to where I really didn’t want to go outdoors any more than I had to, so I made sure to consolidate my errands into two runs.  I certainly wasn’t happy to see the snow flurries, but after looking at the weather forecast, there shouldn’t be much if any accumulation to worry about.

I was wrestling with the idea of having a public open house this weekend due to the weather, but in the end, I caved and decided to have one at 1415 – 9th St. SE this coming Saturday from 1 – 3 pm.  With all the activity we’ve been getting on it, I’ll not be surprised if it gets sold before my showing starts. Given the amount of activity in our market, the likelihood is definitely there.

I spent several hours showing commercial properties this afternoon to a gentleman looking for a spot that’ll fit his needs.  It can certainly be a little creepy when out in large vacant buildings where the wind is howling outside and the inside temperatures are very low.  There was some definite interest in one of them, so perhaps those frigid hours weren’t a waste.

My late afternoon was spent showing several units over at Prairie Place on 1st to an out of town buyer.  He did mention that the complex offered much more than he was expecting–especially its quality of construction.  When I got back to the office after showing it, I made a note to write to a woman about those units who lost her husband about three years ago and still living alone out in the country.  I know for certain she can well afford purchasing one.  I’ll never come to an understanding of why so many of our elderly in North Iowa who have such large amounts of excess cash, continue to live embarrassingly modest lives only for the sake of holding on to their assets for their so-called legacies.

Having about a half hour free, I decided to take a break and run thru some Christmas music on the piano at my office.  I think it helped to get me kick-started into the Holiday spirit.  There’s only about 18 more days before it happens, so it was either now or never.

One of my dear clients who knows how much I enjoy old books, gifted me a delightful one several days ago.  The last copyright was in the year 1900 and the first being 1872.  After paging thru it, I came to a real understanding of how much our English language has evolved over these 117+ years.  There were words in use at the time which I’ve never heard of before, and perhaps I’ll have to bring a few back to life for good measure.

One word I found which piqued my interest was sobriquet.  Without making you look it up, it means nickname.  After reading it, many of the sobriquets I remembered from my youth came to mind like, Bubba, Cricket, Poke Eye, Slash, Dark Cloud, Grasshopper, Tricksy, Babe, Tweetie, Toodles, Oreo, and the list goes on.  I’ll have to share a few more words with you all in the future from that wonderful book gifted to me by my client.  The above photo is one I took of Swinton’s Word Book.

21 – 11th St. NE

21 – 11th St. NE-6Well, I managed to get thru the day without beating myself up too badly from my outdoor work today.  Thank goodness I had a two hour break with phone calls and an appointment to show one home.  At least I’ve finally got past a tediously long and daunting task, so now I can move forward with my little project without having to brace myself for another workout when I arrive there.

A Realtor brought in an offer on one of my listings, and hopefully we’ll be able to get it put together these next couple of days.  Seems the market is continuing to chug along even in this “between holidays” time frame.  I’d say our pleasant weather has something to do with it, but it looks like starting lateTuesday, the temps are going to drop down into the 20s and remain there.

The home I showed today brought back wonderful memories of times spent in one similar to it a number of years ago.  It was almost as if I was having de ja vu while inspecting each room and hallway.  Homes like it were built by monied people with more than a few children.  There were some modifications made to it likely in the 1930′s or 40′s by a previous owner who must’ve wanted to to look more like a new home that generation.  I’m certainly not a purist, but changes made to a home should aways be in sync with its original design and appeal.

I was in a home several weeks ago that possesses the most interesting floor plan.  At first look I thought, “What kind of cluster-funk is this?”, but after walking thru it several times, I realized that it must’ve been custom built by another family with money, and was likely personally supervising the contractor in every detail from start to finish.  Now where can you find a home that’s a combination of Cape Code, Prairie School, California Bungalow, and Four Square?  Well, I’d say that home has features of each one, yet they all esthetically fit comfortably together. I was wowed by its near 10ft. tall ceilings and hand tooled crown moulding. I’d wager there’s not another like it in all North Iowa.

This afternoon I was visiting with a client about all these letters and postcards that many of our City residents have been receiving from so-called “investors” wanting to buy homes they own sight unseen.  There’s no question in my mind they’re getting those addresses from Iowa’s Public Records along with the assistance of likely a computer algorithm that estimates the age of the owner by the number of years a given property has been owned.  Believe it or not, I actually received two of those postcards from one of them who knows I’m a Realtor.  He must’ve had someone else pull the names and addresses without looking at them before being mailed.  Why can’t people make money the old fashioned way by either working honestly for it, or inheriting it fairly and equitably?

My “spotlight” home tonight is being shined on 21 – 11th St. NE here in Mason City.  It’s truly a diamond in the rough, but oh does it have good bones.  I’m waiting for some industrious young person to buy it and transform it back to its original glory.  It would certainly be a win-win situation after it’s been brought back because it’ll not only make a great first home, but also an instant savings account when it comes time to sell it.  The above photo is of its kitchen that’s begging for someone to come sit in that charming breakfast nook.  Can’t you see the possibilities?

Moonlit December

Moonlit December-1Thinking it was going to be an instant 50 degree day, I ventured out of my office early this morning to do a little menial labor beyond my heated space.  Ouch!  After being out there for about 45 minutes, I thought my fingers would be frozen solid if I stayed out there but five minutes longer, so back in I went.  So much for instant an 50 degrees when it took past noontime to get there.

While out there working and feeling my fingers slowly freezing, I thought about Hell and how nearly everyone believes it to contain an unquenchable fire.  Of course yours truly believes the opposite.  For some reason or other, I personally believe Hell as we know it, to be a place of near pitch darkness where there’s a non-stop freezing cold which is the constant torment of those wicked souls who embraced the greatest evil of all–Fear.  For that reason only, they found the “essence” or “core” of their existence having been placed there after death.

Now keep in mind, I’ve told you all before that Fear is the Mother of all evil because from Fear sprouts all cardinal sins. While grabbing that door handle this morning so to get back inside with my icicle fingers, I felt like I was grabbing the door-latch of Hell’s gate.

My public open house at 122 – 11th St. SW this afternoon was a great success.  There were people coming and going nearly the entire time.  The things that impressed them the most was first off, it being located across the street from a public park, then its gorgeous near brand new custom oak kitchen, and lastly, the 3rd floor bedroom which could be used for many other purposes other than a place to sleep.  The big first floor laundry room with a half bath is also a great feature.  Be sure to keep an eye on this home because as far as I’m concerned, it’s a winner.

Since I didn’t have any appointments after my public open house, I drove to the gas station and got a fill-up and then headed out of town to a relatively far away church that I’ve grown to enjoy attending their services.   I arrived there a few minutes early which gave me time to quietly reflect while being surrounded by its beautiful, yet not overly decorated interior.  With the sun being so low in the sky, their stained glass windows were ablaze with color and form.  I’ve always believed really well designed stained glass windows give a church’s interior a greater feel of reverence and solemnity.

While looking at them and reflecting, I remembered an article about an elderly agnostic who on a weekly basis was discovered visiting a historic church in one of Europe’s crown cities.  The reporter asked, “Since you continually insist you’re an agnostic, why is it you go to a church on a weekly basis during their times of service?”  The old lady smiled and calmly said, “Even an agnostic appreciates beauty.  I go there to look at their beautiful windows, listen to their lovely music while continuing to marvel at their exquisite artwork.”  I guess she shut him down in a kind way for questioning her personal beliefs.

While driving back from their delightful Advent service, I happened to notice our near full moon rising.  It was one of the brightest I’ve seen in a long time.  Perhaps our atmosphere is more clear of “junk” particles which made for it to be exceptionally bright to where I actually had to pull down my visor so I could watch the road.  Compliments of those clear skies, there’ll be a moonlit December landscape tonight that’ll “wow” you.