Category Archives: Story

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.

A.M or P.M

A.M or P.M-1One of the homes I spoke about last Sunday along with mentioning it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if it gets sold before the week is out, just received an accepted offer on it.  No, I’m not a clairvoyant, but there comes a time when I feel there’s been enough activity on a particular property to generate an offer and subsequent sale.  The sellers are happy, the buyer is happy, so therefore I’m happy.  Now it’s time for the other one to get sold.  I’ll have to work a little harder on it the rest of the week.

My listing bank is starting to run low since a number of my existing ones have accepted offers on them.  I noticed several days ago a home being listed that I was called to give a “quote” of estimated sale price.  It’s not surprising another agent got the listing when seeing how much more it was listed for.  I hope that agent hurries up and gets it sold before a competing listing arrives on the market very soon.  I told the sellers today about the newly listed over-priced one, and now they’re even more on a burn to get theirs listed.  It’s way nicer and much bigger and will offer more bedrooms and a bigger yard.

Hopefully next week I’ll be getting another listing on the market that’s going to be priced to sell quickly.  What I found to be the most interesting about the home is that it was moved onto its site many years ago.  When I inspected it more closely, I found it to be built out of square nails and of the “balloon” construction style which was popular back in the 1870′s and 1880′s.  It’s much larger on the inside than it appears and offers the most charming open staircase.  It wouldn’t surprise me if one of the historic purist who’s renting right now would happen to purchase it.  It’s had modifications done to it, but the floor plan is pretty much still intact.  It has a circular front porch which could be a real head-turner if someone would spend a little money and time by installing round pillars on it instead of the 4″ x 4”s a previous owner installed.  It’s going to be priced in the lower 40K range and certainly worth it since it has three bedrooms along with a family room.

Someone mentioned today how she just couldn’t understand why nearly every family has a black sheep or two in it.  I couldn’t help but bring up the subject of morphic resonance and how oft times we may not take on the personality traits of our parents or grandparents, but could possibly have triped back to blood related aunts, uncles, great grandparents and great aunts and uncles.  If you were in the know with all of your old ones, you’ll be surprised to find striking similarities with the younger ones.  I’m not convinced it’s environmentally driven, but rather more genetically.  I’m not so sure she agreed with me, but at least she listened.

How many of you know what a.m. and p.m. stand for?  I would say over 90% of our population hasn’t a clue.  It is Latin for ante meridiem which means before noon, and post meridiem which means after noon.  So the next time you confirm an appointment or dinner date for say 6:00 p.m., why don’t you say, “I’ll see you at 6:00 post meridiem., and then you’ll possibly get a real conversation started over a.m. and p.m.

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

Humility and Charity

Humility and CharityFrom early this morning, yours truly was on a near non-stop timetable of appointments an errands.  The appointments went well, and my two public open houses had more visitors than I’d expected.  After thinking about it, the two that were open which was 107 S. Rhode Island, and 2040 Hunters Ridge Drive, are both priced to sell and in great neighborhoods.  I may be sounding overly confident, but I’m looking to have them sold before the end of this week.

Yesterday I was thinking about a past customer of mine whom I run into from time to time, and always seems to get me to smile and laugh when giving his opinion on random topics.  He doesn’t know that I fully understand the struggles he’s having after his recent divorce and now forced to balance shared custody of children.  I give him credit for staying outwardly “up” with his added responsibility along with greater financial burdens now there’s only one another bread winner in the household.  Since I’ve known him for a number of years, I can sense there are inward fears building.

The next time we cross paths, I’ll likely be ready to repeat something my Grandmother used to say which goes:

 

If you keep your nose to the grindstone rough,

And keep it down there long enough,

In time you will forget there are such things,

As brooks that babble and birds that sing;

And only three things will all your world compose:

Yourself, the grindstone, and your poor old nose.

 

Those words will be a positive and laughable way to tell him to stop worrying about his new burdens and re-open his hatches to happiness.  I know too well how split families with children can be filled with anxiety and more sooner than later transfer onto their children.  I do wish the best for him while continuing to hope he and his children will be all the better going forward in their lives.

Since I did have some time after my last appointment, I decided to take a long drive to one of my favorite churches in North Iowa.  While driving there I couldn’t help but notice all the more Queen Anne’s Lace and wild parsley in ditches and pastures. There’s no question the green areas of our Counties are becoming over-run by those nasty plants.  Not only are we at battle with European Buckthorn, but now there are two more battle fronts being opened by those invasive plants that don’t belong here.

There was a new minister at my favorite church who gave a thought provoking sermon regarding humility and charity.  He was quick to mention how true humility has no negative connotations, but closer to someone who is willing to serve, teachable, and lowly of heart.

His take on charity was similar to mine in that  true charity has no strings attached and given in a quiet and non-prideful manner.  Just think about how many along with familiar organizations in North Iowa who set themselves out as being charitable, but ever-quick to let everyone know what they’ve really not so freely done because they’re driving attention to themselves and their businesses.  More than once I’ve sent “thank you” notes to be passed on to anonymous donors at area churches and charities.

My drive may have been long, but it was worth being re-introduced to those two nearly forgotten words–humility and charity.  I believe they are words all parents of young children must work at learning, understanding, and sharing within their households.

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!

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.

Prairie Place on 1st

320 1st St NE-1Someone mentioned today how humid our summer has been this year when saying, “I moved back here from a State that’s normally very humid, but I don’t ever remember North Iowa being like southern Missouri.”  I couldn’t help but agree that it’s been exceptionally humid lately, and after the heavy downpour of rain we had this morning, we’ll be experiencing all the more humidity these next days unless we get some cool drying wind out of the north.

One of my colleagues called today on another matter, but we later found ourselves on the subject of all the fears homeowners have been alerted to over these past ten to twenty years.  I totally “get it” that people need to be made aware of things that are hazardous to their health, but sometimes I believe those fears get blown way out of proportion.

One particular failed acreage transaction I was involved in several years ago centered around the well water test.  When the well test came back, it was discovered its water contained a higher arsenic level than what the Federal Government recommends as being safe.  Keep in mind, its arsenic level really wasn’t that much over the limit.  The seller agreed, at her expense, to have a reverse osmosis system installed for the drinking water at the kitchen tap which we figured would be the best remedy for everyone involved.

After the buyer had done extensive reading online regarding the subject, he insisted that the seller have a new well drilled, or was going to walk because he was not going to subject any of his future barnyard animals to well water containing higher than acceptable amounts of arsenic.  After much back and fort negotiating, the sale fell thru, and the owner decided she was going to remain living there and deal with the arsenic as she saw fit.  I’m nearly 100% certain she did not have a new well drilled and is likely still drinking the water from the well just as before without a reverse osmosis system.

After telling my unfortunate story about arsenic to my colleague today, I added, “Why is it we’re not seeing all the cows, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, geese, cats, dogs, and any/all other barnyard animals dropping dead of arsenic poisoning?”  Shouldn’t we keep in mind, arsenic has been in the ground for hundreds of thousands of years which was long before we feeble humans fell out of the trees?  With that said, I believe we all must be careful and cautious regarding carcinogenic/poisonous materials, but also to keep all of those very same fears in perspective.  Don’t you think that makes sense?

The highlight of my day was spending about three hours or more bringing myself up to speed with the condominium units that were recently built which are located in the Crescent of our Historic Downtown.

I took oodles of photos and many notes so that when I list five of them for sale tomorrow, I’ll be able to intelligently answer any and all buyer inquiries.  Believe me, that complex is the best I’ve ever seen built in this City, and as far as I’m concerned, they’ll all be sold more sooner than later.  The above photo is of the street-side entrance to Prairie Place on 1st.

Tomorrow, I’ll have the new listings posted online so everyone can get a better look at that exceptional condominium complex.  I did meet a handful of the current owners and they all love their units, so don’t forget to look online tomorrow for my new listings of Prairie Place on 1st.