Something they Know

It was finally warm enough this morning, along with the pavements being nearly dry, to where I could actually get my vehicle into a car wash and not have it dirtied in less than an hour from all that nasty splattering my car gets every time a big truck or SUV drives past me.

It’s too bad that Iowa doesn’t have some sort of law where cars and trucks of certain heights, must have mudflaps installed behind their rear wheels. I know that certain European countries have laws regarding that very same thing. It certainly makes sense whenever following one of those “big buck” pickup trucks, and no matter how great a distance one is behind one of them, you can be sure your windshields and front-ends are going to get splattered.

It was a bit of a slow day at the office, so I went ahead and paid some bills that had come in, along with doing some additional market research on several properties. It seems the more I try to get some sort of understanding on valuations, there are all those many more past sales that just don’t make sense to where there’ve been those which I believe were under-sold, along with finding others which were showing clear signs of having been over-sold. There’ve been a small herd of “lipsticked pigs” sold this past year, and I wish those buyers the absolute best when having to deal with updates that have nothing to do with the cosmetics they bought into, because oft times structural and mechanical issues are the big ticket items that get over-looked.

I had a soulful conversation today with one of the buyers I’m working with which centered around buying something cheaper that’s in need of cosmetics, and possibly new concrete poured along with some serious kitchen and bath updates. The home we were talking about is about as plain as it gets, but the location is good, the square-footage is adequate, and the structure is sound. I’m sure the reason it’s been a “fly-over” for buyers, is because of the weak updates the sellers have done which actually makes the home look more tacky, and in these times, and especially when working with young buyers, it’s an up-hill battle to get them to see past the cheesy tastes of some homeowners.

While at the office this morning, several of the bankers from Farmer’s State Bank stopped by with a little gift which came as a big surprise. They really are very nice people and I hope their banking business continues to grow here in Mason City. We had a good chat about the happenings in our Downtown as well as our City as a whole. I couldn’t have stressed how important it is to get all the vacant storefronts and empty offices filled in our Historic Downtown.

Speaking of spaces for lease, I was shocked to hear that Petersen Plaza still has vacant office spaces. Now that’s one heck of a nice building which should be at 100% occupancy, but I guess if there’s nobody looking for space, then that space will remain empty until we get Mason City’s economy kick-started. You can have all the recreational activities you want, but if there’s no jobs to be had or commerce to be created, where’s the discretionary spending going to come from? And no matter how many so-called “tourists” we have visiting our City, that’ll never be enough to sustain.

One of my colleagues who’s been in real estate nearly as long as I have, is pretty much of the same mindset, and also of the belief that there are the many more people struggling in these times with their increased taxes, higher utilities, and bloated insurance premiums. Being the realist, one can’t help wondering where the breaking points will be with some of our young families. As I mentioned today, most of our City’s residents don’t realize that the increased taxes they’re paying this year, are NOT based on the recent spike in the assessed values of their homes, because come next year’s tax billing period, that’ll be the time we’re going to be hearing many of our homeowners squealing like piggies, and I won’t blame them a bit. That may be another reason why even some of our City workers have purchased properties outside of our City and County. Do you think there’s something they know that we don’t.

What makes me a little inwardly angry, is when those who were directly or in-directly responsible for some of the decisions that were made which became long-lasting in our community, have moved on to other cities and even States with either job opportunities or retirement. I think to myself, “So, you were vocal enough to press your agenda onto others, but you couldn’t remain here and live with those changes.” As I mentioned this morning, “The real long-time natives of North Iowa are the ones we should be more closely listening to when it has anything to do with long-range planning.” As always, I want the absolute best for our community, but we must continue being realistic when listening to the expectations of others.

I’m still in a bit of dis-belief when remembering having walked past Carl Miller a number of months ago when I made a quick trip over to La Crosse. And to think he was a die-hard proponent, as well as the spearhead in getting all those millions spent on that money-bleeding albatross we have around our necks which never should’ve been built in the first place. Now that he’s been gone since 2003, I’m now wondering what his thoughts are regarding the so-called legacy of the “Music Man Square” he so “generously” bequeathed to all of us. Ouch!

Tonight’s one-liner is: Seize the day, and put the least possible trust in tomorrow.

Joe Chodur

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