Category Archives: Story

1853 Springview Drive

1853 Springview Drive-19The highlight of my day was taking a new listing located a 1853 Springview Drive here in Mason City.  The photo above is the exterior shot, but if you want to see all the rest of the others I took, click on the address and you’ll see for yourselves how absolutely gorgeous this home really is.  It’s about as clean and maintenance free as one could ever imagine.

First off, the kitchen/dining area to the back of the home offers abundant natural lighting and fabulous views of the outdoors due to there being no homes behind it.  I’ve always liked homes with that feature because it offers more privacy both outside and within.

The master bedroom has a 1/2 bath off, and all the windows were recently replaced by triple-pane thermals with a lifetime warranty on them.  All the mechanicals are up to date as well, along with there being a recently added 3/4 bath in the lower level.

The home could easily be considered a “legal” four bedroom if someone would add an egress window in the lower level since there’s a room already set up for guests down there.  I was surprised by the size of that room, along with its closets. I was surprised to see how close the 3/4 bath is to that guest room.  There’s also a very large rec room in the lower with a bar in the corner.

At the rear of the home there’s a nearly new deck and a charming gazebo. With the back yard being fenced, anyone with small children or dogs, won’t have to be looking at fence installation so to keep their loved ones contained.

Yes, this home is about as move-in ready as you’d ever expect, which always makes it nice when new buyers who usually have full-time jobs and busy lives.  I would consider it more a home “sanctuary” where one spends needed time to relax and rejuvenate.  I’ll wager it’s going to sell quickly.

Another interesting happening took place today.  The mail person delivered an abstract on a property which contained all the original hand-written entries going all the way back to 1854 when that parcel’s patent was issued. Every time I’m given the opportunity to read an abstract’s cursive entries, my thoughts are carried back to those times.

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Can you possibly imagine how much work it was in those days before typewriters?  Those poor stenographers must’ve been fit to be tied while trying to transcribe legal notes during very cold and very hot weather.  Just remember, there was no central heating, fans, or air conditioners.  And of course just think of the more formal clothing both men and women had to wear. There were no “Freedom Fridays” in those times, and it’s no wonder white shirts had collars that could be removed from their bodies.  I’m convinced those shirts were likely worn more than a day or two between washings, but their collars were likely washed, ironed, and starched on a daily basis.  Sounds like something that should be done in our times so to save our precious water and energy. Don’t you think?

The above photo is one of the sheets I found in that package which is an affidavit signed by an Iowa Notary Public. After adjusting my brain to reading 1891 cursive handwriting, I was able to read it clearly, but couldn’t make out the exact spelling of the last names.

It’s not so far in our future where our young won’t be able to read writing like this.  There’ll likely be specialist who’ll have to be paid to transcribe handwritten, soon to be “ancient” documents.  Just one more example of how our world is rapidly changing.

Half Empty

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Hopefully everyone has arrived safely where they needed to be the day after Christmas.

One can only imagine all the left-overs that were being re-invented for today’s meal and possibly a few more forward.  Some meats actually taste better twice warmed.  I’m sure you’ve all had left-over turkey and standing rib roast sandwiches the following days.  Just now thinking about standing rib roast and how long it’s been since I’ve had it, that or leg of lamb will likely be my meat of choice when our next major holiday arrives.

It was a struggle for me when preparing to leave for the office this morning with it being -12 degrees outside.  Oh how I do hate our weather when it gets so cold.  When it’s that cold, it has a freezing sting of a thousand mosquitos.  In spite of the sun shining brightly, just walking that 1/2 block to the Post Office around noon wasn’t the least bit pleasant.

Most of my day was spent paying year-end bills along with sending out correspondence.  As these last days of 2017 approach, I’m beginning to wonder where those previous twelve months have gone.  Yes, I did have a productive year, but still wondering what happened to the time.  I’m still convinced some entity, ever so secretly, stole Summer from us.  Perhaps 2018 will bring us an even earlier Spring and later Fall.

As I’d feared, the sale of my listing at 20 – 9th St. NE  unfortunately fell thru the cracks today because the selling Realtor wasn’t able to get his buyer fully financed.  It’s too bad because all their inspections were done along with the appraisal.  It was the first time in very many months I’ve had something like this happen with one of my listings.  If any of you know someone looking for an entry level 3 bedroom home priced below 40K, then this one is certainly at the top of the list in its price range.  The most upsetting thing about this failed sale, is that I would have likely had it sold to another interested buyer during those weeks it was tied up.  Oh well, we just have to pick up where we left off before that Realtor arrived with offer in hand.

One of my clients told me a funny story today about her growing puppy having suddenly discovered a full length mirror in her closet.  Sounds like her overly-curious canine believes there’s a usurper living in her closet waiting to take its place in her household.  Since that happening, her puppy continues to growl and bark whenever near her closet door.  I told her she should be a little wicked and take a piece of good smelling meat, let her puppy smell it and quickly walk into her closet, then eat it before walking out again.  For sure her animal will be all the more convinced she’s hiding another who’s not only in competition for affection, but now for food!  Too funny!

I’m sure many of you over the years have noticed “Boxing Day” marked on certain calendars.  Well, it all began with the British aristocracy who had to be waited on hand and foot on Christmas Day, so therefore they decided they’d give their servants the following day off while rewarding them with bonuses, boxes of left-over food, and other items of thankfulness.  Sounds like the makings of another Thomas Hardy novel doesn’t it?

In these times, Boxing Day has been transformed into something similar to Black Friday here in the States.  It’s another day off where all the major retailers in Canada and Great Britain cut prices so to move their after Christmas inventories.  It looks like the Crown and her subject Canada now have two major shopping days–Black Friday and Boxing Day.

Once again, please put the word out to friends, co-workers, and relatives that Holtz Realty is on a burn to get 20 – 9th St. NE re-sold in a “yesterday” fashion.  And do stay warm during these blistering cold days and nights!

By the way, is my wintery photo I’ve posted tonight of our current Moon being one you’d call a half full Moon, or a half empty Moon?  Gotcha!

Waiting for the Day

Waiting for the DayAfter finding a light coat of snow on the ground this morning, with great dis-pleasure I went into the storeroom and pulled out the snow shovel which I’d hoped would remain there for a few more weeks.  It’s amazing how quickly we forget those many muscles that go un-used when shoveling until it comes time to do it again.  I’m sure I’ll be having a few aches and pains when I awaken tomorrow morning.

The home I was working on getting sold to a buyer these past several days, finally came together, so it looks like I’ve possibly made my last sale of the year.  There’s no question that in time, the buyer will transform it into quite the comfortable home.  As chance would have it, I sold that home about 10 years ago for an older couple who decided it was time to sell.  It’s happened many times over the years where I’ve sold the same home twice or three times.  There’s one in particular that was either purchased or sold thru Holtz Realty four times, and each and every owner thoroughly enjoyed living there.

One of my dear past customers stopped by the office today to drop off a Christmas gift for me.  When I opened the box, I was delighted to find a vintage tie clip with a design that’s most appropriate for my profession.  I’ll be sure to have it set out often so to wear it when showing homes.  Over time, it’ll likely become my talked about article of conversation.

It looks like the listing I have on 20 – 9th St. NE is coming back on the market Tuesday unless the selling agent can pull a rabbit out of a hat.  With that said, if any of you know someone who’s looking for an entry-level home that offers more that you’d expect for a home listed under $40K, this one fits the bill.  It even has a brand new $8,000 roof on it.  When doing the math, you’d find the monthly payment far less that what you’d be paying for rent, and if you’re an investor,  the rent received would provide you with a hefty rate of return.  If I were looking for either a first-time home or an investment property, I’d be all over this one.  It should’ve been sold right out of the gates, but just happened to get listed when our market started slowing before winter.

The rest of my day was spent returning emails and getting bills paid before the year’s end.  I’m still wondering where the year went.  Seems the days and months were moving all the faster this year, which was likely caused by me being exceptionally busy. But keep in mind, I’m not complaining.

There was an article in Time magazine today about the flu season that’s upon us and how much more difficult it has been for science to keep up with the evolving strains of the “bug”.  As I suspected years ago, those flu shots are a crap shoot when trying to guess which strain is going to affect the general public the most.  If you have time, look for that article.  It’s very interesting, but also a bit scary.

Starting tomorrow, it’ll be the count-down for yet another year for us to enjoy the company of friends and relatives.  Looks like a few of us are just quietly waiting for the day to arrive–especially those table scraps.

I Don’t Have To

I Don't Have To-1With Christmas Eve bearing down on us once again, I’ve found myself taking a different approach to the Season after all those many years of performing the same old rituals.  After looking more closely at the whole picture, my sudden change was likely caused by the unexpected evolution of my thinking.  Whether we want to admit it or not, we humans are in a constant state of change.  When we think of change,  most think it to be something of a geographical, financial,  employment, or physical nature.  The one form of change which is often overlooked and likely dismissed, is mental.

Several months ago I was given the great honor of marketing the remaining available condos at Prairie Place on 1st.  After much studying and familiarizing myself with their senior living concept, the time came for me to climb on board so to get them listed and sold.  My visits to the offices of Good Shepherd have been frequent since they hired me, and that’s been a good thing because I’m more familiarized with the concept of eldercare.

From my first time walking into the entrance of Good Shepherd where there are a number of seniors who are either in wheelchairs, putzing along with walkers, or seated somewhere in sight, I’ve always made sure to acknowledge each and every one of them who’ve made eye contact with me.  That simple little “Hi, how are you?” certainly brightens their day.  Too many of the younger ones don’t realize that even though the elderly have wasting bodies, most of them have razor sharp minds filled with heartfelt stories of prior generations.

One day while I was walking down a hall, I noticed not far enough ahead of me, a delivery person who was paying absolutely no attention to the residents he was walking past.  There just happened to be a woman slowly pushing her wheelchair towards him with her eyes focused on him.  He didn’t even bother to look down as he walked past, but the look she gave him was a piercing glare which likely would’ve translated as, “You just wait.  You’ll be NEXT more sooner than you think!”  You know, I didn’t blame her a bit for her visual chastising because he passed her off as a non-entity; just an old robot steering a wheelchair.  Seeing that made me all the more sensitive to the feelings of our seniors.  I wonder how many others who’ve been insensitive and/or dismissive to our confined seniors and recipients of those prophetic “you’re next” looks.

Some time ago, while on a quick stop at a client’s home, I happened to notice a nurse who was supposed to be “elder-tuned” a bit roughly examining the dearest oldster and not listening to one word being said.  A momentary thought crossed my mind that she must’ve been having a very bad day, or was in it for only the money, because there was absolutely no sign she was treating that senior with dignity or respect.  I’d say it appeared as though she was going thru the motions with one of those life-sized dolls they use in classroom nurse’s training.

So now back to change which is the subject of tonight’s thoughts.  The Christmas Season for me this year has been all about giving freely without any hooks or strings attached.  I’ve decided to give only to those who’re in need, along with others deserving of an acknowledgement of sorts for what they’ve done this past year.

I got a good laugh when one of those recipients said, “You really didn’t have to give me anything.”  I sternly replied with a smile, “I don’t HAVE TO do anything except pay taxes and die.”  Yes, I believe my gifting this year to those deserving is going to give me far warmer feelings, than had I given to those who’ve always be expecting.

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.

Carved in Italy

Carved in ItalyThe first and foremost little job for me today was to play for St. Paul Lutheran Church’s Service.  Before I arrived there a little after 8:00 am, I ran thru the pieces they selected for me play just one more time on the piano at my office.  When I arrived, I was glad the church was heating up because me fingers were exceptionally cold, and as most keyboardist know, when your fingers are cold, it’s all the harder to play, especially when there are pieces that move quickly.

I managed to get myself limbered up while running thru the service music and hymns again.  There was one particular piece that I’d never heard played before, and even after looking online and still not finding it, I was at a loss whether I was playing it up to speed  or not since the pages were not marked for tempo.  Fortunately there was an early arrival, so I went down and asked her if it sounded Ok.  Thank goodness she said I was playing it correctly.

Since I was downstairs, we spoke about the need for more youth in aging congregations, along with how standard and easily sung liturgical music is important for churches because it’s brings everyone all the more together.  By that time, another had arrived and joined in our conversation.  I went on to say how it’s terribly important for musicians and vocalists to remember when selecting pieces to be played, that most people–especially the older ones, don’t have very broad vocal ranges along with weak sight reading skills.

I most soulfully mentioned how over the years when accompanying different singers, there’d be times when I’d remind them that they’re not there to give performances, but rather as leaders of the congregation in song.  If I would start thinking back, I could name many instrumentalist along with vocalists who reveled in their so-called performances. If I found the vocalists I played for disregarding my advice numerous times, I would simply refuse to accompany them any longer.

Not long ago I mentioned something to a well known regarding some sacred music I happened to listen to at an area church which was being played by a newbie to our area.  I think she was a bit shocked when I mentioned how the keyboardist was adding too many “extras” to the music that was being played.  I not only noticed those little add-ons, but also a very noticeable and overly sweeping style.  I’m now wondering if that person would finally get the message if everyone in that church would turn around, look up, and start clapping after finishing one of those little “look at me” liturgical performances.

After the Service finished, I went walking thru the nave with one of St. Paul’s members and when I grew near their beautiful wooden cross hanging in its sanctuary I said, “Every time I see your beautiful carving of Christ, a great feeling of reverence comes over me.”  She smiled while saying, “It was added back in the 1960′s when there was some re-modeling done, and just so you know, it was carved in Italy.”  I quickly replied while looking up at it, “Whomever created it was a gifted woodcarver and likely filled with the Spirit while carving it.”  The above photo is one I took of it.  Isn’t it beautiful?

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.