Category Archives: Story

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.


FrankenhouseIt was so much a beautiful day outside to where I found myself working at savoring each moment of it while out of the office.  Since I had some desk work to get completed early this morning, I did get a glimpse of the glorious sunrise as I was driving Downtown.

Most don’t realize how early a number of people are on the highway before 6:00 a.m who’re likely on their way to work.  I was reminded of that while stopping for a small cup of coffee at one of the convenience stores.  There are more people than we realize who have to be at their jobs at 6:00.  I’m sure it’s no problem during the summer months, but during the winter, it’s certainly a different story when having to endure the darkness, cold, and snow.  Many of our residents have no idea how early some have to get up and be at their jobs irregardless of weather conditions.  I consider them part of that silent working class we’ve been hearing much about lately.

I took a quick trip up to 305 N. 1st Street in Fertile this morning to put out my public open house signs for this coming Saturday.  It couldn’t have been a better time to enjoy the countryside.  The corn fields are filling up with green stalks, and some of them are even starting to sprout tassels. The recent heat and humidity has certainly been helping their rapid growth along.  I’ve also noticed “workers wanted” signs for de-tasseling this season, and I hope many parents with teenage children get them signed up and out working in those fields.  As far as I’m concerned, those children need as much exposure as possible to a little hard work and the great outdoors.

Once again, I found myself on my soapbox when visiting with someone today.  I couldn’t stress enough how important it is for the citizens of Mason City and North Iowa  to work diligently at maintaining and improving what we already have going for us in our communities, but also to guard ourselves against the evils of greed and selfishness.  I mentioned how disturbed I’ve grown when finding all the more people trying to emulate some of the bad business practices that being conducted by a few living in our midst.  I scratch my head and think, “Why would anyone like to set such standards for themselves?”  I hope this is not another by-product of the selfish ideas people are getting after watching those popular reality shows like “American Greed”.  It appears self-respect is falling all the more out of favor in our world.

The highlight of my day was when I was driven to excessive laughter by a customer who somehow always manages to get my opinions flowing when showing him homes.  It all started while in a home that must’ve been a hodge-podge of two or three pre-existing homes that appeared to have been “sewn” together to make the strangest of residential structures.  The more I looked, the more I realized it truly must’ve been the end product of used home parts.  I shook my head and pointed at it saying, “It’s a Frankenhouse! They joined it together like Frankenstein was created out of miscellaneous body parts!”  Oh Mercy! The belly laughs started to roll.  Sometimes you just gotta have fun while standing in the middle of widespread dysfunction.

The Chills

The ChillsIt seemed nearly all I did today was perform follow-ups and get emails returned. From the looks of it, I’ll be busy the rest of the week with showings. Now that the inventories have dropped, we’re seeing more sales of those less desirable homes along with the continued spiking of prices on those that are the most popular with buyers.

As I’ve mentioned before, I only hope we’re not going to have a market correction like we had in 2008. I can’t believe we’re nearly ten years out from those dark days of real estate, and we’ve yet to see the very end of the foreclosures coming out of that financial mess. Thank goodness I’ve seen far fewer of those nasty things hitting the market this year and I’m personally all the happier for it.

Once again, I want to shine the spotlight of value on a home I have listed at 323 – 6th St. NW here in Mason City. I’m actually a bit shocked it hasn’t yet sold, but then again, most buyers aren’t that concerned with craftsmanship, but rather buying a cheaply built home in one of our cookie-cutter neighborhoods like Stone Pillar. Speaking of that subdivision, I happened to get on the subject of that particular one with a customer over the weekend. I was delighted to find we both share the same opinions of it where there-in resides too many people trying to make too big of an impression, and left to be financially struggling as they work at keeping up their facade of supposed wealth.

Now if you’d compare all the features and workmanship that’s contained in 323 – 6th St. NW with any other homes you’ve recently previewed, you’ll agree that it’s certainly a true hidden gem that’s fallen under the radar. Having been in more homes than I want to admit, 323 – 6th St. NW rates in the top ten percent of design, appeal, and workmanship. I dare you to take a peek at it, because I know you’re gonna fall head over heels in like with it.

Since the arrival of July, I’m seeing a number of our residents taking their vacation time and traveling up north into Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Canada for what’s become an annual event for most of them. It amazes me how many go to the same places year after year to where it spans decades and generations. After hearing a story today from one of my clients who just returned from Canada, I’m beginning to get the itch to take a week off and head for the highlands.

Speaking of fishing, I found it appropriate to share the above photo that’s out of the ancient photo album one of my clients so generously gifted me a number of months ago. On the back it reads,”25th Aug. 1937. 44 fish weighing 80lbs. Caught in the “Thumb” of Yellowstone Lake.” Those fish appear to be Cutthroat Trout which are native to Yellowstone. I was a little creeped out when upon a closer look, I found the woman standing second from left bearing a striking resemblance to someone I personally know, but hadn’t yet been born. Yes, we all have our look-a likes, but sometimes seeing a photo of a familiar out of place and time, can certainly get the chills started.

Saved Over

Saved OverLikely because the 4th of July was thrown into the mix of this week, I had to remind myself today it was Friday more than once.  As Friday’s go, it was a bit on the abnormal side to where I just decided there would be no rhyme or reason to it all.

I’m certainly glad the wind has changed to the northwest and bringing with it cooler and drier air.  These past days of high heat and humidity was certainly affecting the attitudes of many.  I was even becoming a bit short with people which certainly isn’t normal for me.  Just yesterday there was someone helping another move out of their apartment down the street along with a new tenant moving in.  I just walked up and introduced myself and wished the new tenant well, and as I was driving off, I had this “ping” of sorts that they weren’t the least bit happy I stopped.  Oh well, if we send out kindness to others and it’s not accepted, we just move forward and never look back.

If any of you are even thinking of an upgrade out of your current housing, please be sure to stop by the public open house I’ll be hosting tomorrow at 731 S. Monroe Court here in Mason City.  It’s a one owner home that’s been meticulously cared for from the time they move in.  I’ve sold other homes on that street, and believe me, every one of them love the area.  Out there you’ll find a quiet street, a parkland to the rear, and a recreation area only a short walk away.  It’s been getting a great deal of activity since I listed it earlier this week, so don’t delay because it may be gone by the time you decide it’s for you and your family.

Since I was running into the lunch hour with clients today, I decided to invite them for lunch at Z’mariks Noodle Cafe which most recently opened, and they agreed.  It was the first time for all of us which allowed for each to give our own critiques.  Since it’s located on the highly over-rated “golden mile” of Mason City, I’d say the parking and access is a bit weak considering how many people were trying to find a place to park.

The prices on the menu were acceptable along with the speed in which we were able to place our orders.  The wait time for the food was also within reason. I had a Greek salad which I’m sorry to say I’ve had much better at Papa’s.  My guests mentioned how they liked the noodle dishes they ordered which appeared pleasing to my eye.

We all agreed the echoing from other people’s chatter was a bit much.  I’ve always said, “When you have tall ceilings and no carpet or fabric furniture, the echo effect begins.”  I know people like tall ceilings because it helps to create volume in smaller spaces, but they must also incorporate sound barriers in those ceilings and walls.  All three of us had a terrible time hearing each other with all that amplified chatter about us.

I wish the very best of success for this new cafe, but I don’t believe I’ll be returning any time soon because I’m still waiting for something similar in size and ambiance to be opened in our Historic Downtown.  After today, I’ve decided to start focusing more on filling up the vacant storefronts in and around our City’s center.

I’m sure you all remember me telling my story about the geraniums I had hanging upside-down in a cool and dark area of my office’s basement over this past winter.  I also mentioned recently that I planted them once our soil warmed up.  I can’t be all the more happy to share with you the above photo of just one of many which are growing well and blooming profusely in my flowerbed.

I’m sure the plant sellers in our area won’t like me very much when more people start enjoying the beauty of their “saved over the winter” geraniums.

731 S. Monroe Court

731 S Monroe Court-1On the Eve of July the 4th, I found myself far more busy with real estate matters than I’d expected, but as I’ve known for many years, my occupation is one where the unexpected oft time becomes the norm.   At least today’s surprises were productive and positive.

Last week I met with a landlord to have some documents signed and while talking about the unit he suddenly out of the blue said, “Why do people not wash windows anymore?”  Oh Mercy!  Unbeknownst to him, dirty windows have been a pet peeve of mine for years.  I laughed while responding, “I’m not so sure there’s any one particular reason, but  my take on this whole business of filthy windows has become generational.”  With a questioning look he said, “Why is that?” I went on to explain how 20 years ago,  I was finding all the fewer people washing their windows maybe once a year.  Back in my young days we had storms and screens to be changed twice a year, and before changing them, the windows had to get washed along with the storms, and visa versa with the screens.  Remember, back then only the “super rich” had central air.

Now that we have permanent and  double hung thermal and casement windows, there’s no need to concern oneself with the twice a year change-out because most people have central air.  As we all know, time slips by quickly and what we believe we did perhaps a year ago, was more likely two or three. Since I’m personally such a clean window freak, my windows at home get washed at least twice a year simply because I dislike looking out dirty windows along with seeing them appear all the dirtier when the sun is shining through them.  In the end, I believe the business of dirty windows is a combination of laziness, forgetfulness, and its necessity being of a low priority for the average homeowner.

So you think I’ve forgotten something?  No, I didn’t.  It’s also generational because no matter what anyone says, children learn either directly or indirectly from their parents, and if parents are not setting good examples for them with their timely tasks of home care and maintenance, then their children grow up and become clueless adult homeowners.

I visited a home about a year ago which left quite the lasting memory by containing the dirtiest windows I’ve seen in years.  If you can imagine a combination of 20+ years of indoor cigarette smoking along with every sort of dust and grime both inside and out, along with my belief those windows had never been washed since those tenants moved in decades ago, then you get the picture.  All natural light entering transformed every room into an amber haze.

A call came in mid-morning for me to list a very nice one-owner home that I’d already previewed several months ago.  For a growing family, it’s in a great location and has the size required for expansion.  Without a doubt, there’s nothing a given buyer would have to do other than move in and perhaps at leisure, decorate to their particular tastes. The basement is a blank canvas and ready for the build-out of a lower level home sanctuary.

I’ve scheduled a public open house for it this coming Saturday afternoon.  The above photo is the exterior of this new listing of mine located at 731 S. Monroe Court.  Click on the link and take a good look. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s priced to sell, so don’t wait to give us a call.

731 S. Monroe Court, Mason City

Never Send to Know

Never Send to KnowOh what an interesting day I had, and for sure it will be long remembered.  It all started out with my deciding to do some menial labor since it was pleasantly cool outside early this morning. So off I went to work at my on-going project that’s progressing along nicely.  Not long after being back at it, I was reminded how good it was in not having to listen to a phone ringing or my cell phone beeping.  I managed to get a good three hours work in, and it showed.

While I was driving to pick up some supplies, I noticed someone cutting down a monster tree that must’ve been dying.  All that was left standing was the main trunk which the tree person was cutting in short sections; likely because of the tree’s diameter.  From what I could see, a big section of that tree trunk had been hollowed out by squirrels.  The size of their hollowing-out must have been for the whole neighborhood tribe of those “tree rats”.

Speaking of trees, I think something greatly wrong is happening with the black walnut trees this year.  Their nuts aren’t even half their normal size and they’re already beginning to drop.  The first time I noticed it, it was brushed off as possibly one sick tree, but after looking more closely at every walnut tree I’ve encountered thereafter, I found it’s happening to each and every one of them. The squirrels are going to be going “nuts” if they don’t have their normal supply of walnuts to hoard away for winter.  Their hunger will likely cause them to become all the more emboldened, so make sure you don’t find one trying to gnaw its way into your home.  Have you every had pan-fried squirrel?  It’s really quite tasty, and I’ve read of late where it’s become quite the rage with the British.

I do know that oak trees are bi-annual with their crops of acorns, but at least they do have a small one on their “off” years.  It’s also strange that I haven’t noticed any acorns growing in the oaks this year as well.  The strange weather patterns we’ve been having these past several years may be having an effect on all the more plants and animals than we’d ever want to admit.

I had an exceptionally good open house at 323 – 6th St. NW this afternoon.  Every person that walked thru it was delightfully surprised by its quality and beauty.  Anyone who’s into historic hardwoods should be hot after this home.  Tell friends and relatives about it.

After my open house, I decided to take well over an hour’s drive to a small community’s 100+ year old church.  I was speeding most of the time, but thankfully I found myself walking in just as they were starting to sing their gathering hymn.  There were several observations that stood out for me that I thought worth sharing.  The first was how many people with young families were there who were actually seated far closer to the front than back.  That congregation’s spirituality is a rarity when seeing the front half of pews being filled up first.

The second notable, were the stained glass windows which weren’t as one would normally find in a historic church.  The four windows depicting Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were very symbolic, and the one for John was something like I’ve never seen.  After the service, I went back inside with camera in hand and took some photos of those windows which I’ll share with you at another time.

The above photo I took while there is of that historic church’s bell tower.  I was surprised to see the bell and manual wheel still up there.  Too bad I didn’t get there early enough to hear it ringing. Looking at that bell in its tower caused me to remember the section of John Donne’s poem. “… any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee..”

As a footnote, my comments regarding what I’ve seen today  in North Iowa’s countryside is being saved for tomorrow’s post.  Be prepared.