Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My experience with prejudice

There will be a positive impact against race and prejudice with the next President being the first black man to fill this role. My own experience with prejudice was in elementary school in the 60's. Back then your ethnic background your religious choice were what defined you. I am a mix of Polish,Dutch,and German. My mother was a rejected Catholic and my Dad a Methodist ( I thought). Turns out he was raised Lutheran but referred to himself as just spiritual. The reason I thought I was a Methodist is, my grandparents would take me to church once in a while. That church was a Methodist church at the corner of their street, so that is where I went. My family as it turns out were kind of ahead of everyone else in understanding that all the Christians were really in the same group or at least focused on the same goal! My mother was rejected from the Catholic church because she married a Lutheran. This had a huge impact on her and it carried over to the way she raised her three daughters. I was brought up to have a curiosity about all religions and view them as an outsider. My Catholic friends would take me to church. They would try to teach me their prayers. They always reminded me that "you know you are going to hell because you are not a Catholic". As a child that can really give you nightmares! Growing up in a primarily Irish/Italian Catholic neighborhood was to say the least a challenge on my self esteem. They were the majority while I was the minority. The most negative thing that I had going for me was that out of all three ethnic backgrounds somehow I was The Pollock in the neighborhood.I don't know how this happened because my name didn't end with "ski". Back then one of the first things people would ask you was what your ethnic background was, then what religion. I must of innocently answered the question to someone and it stuck. My mother was pure Polish. Whenever I would come home and tell her how the kids called me a Pollock she would say, be proud! We are good and strong people that have suffered great indignities. (sounds like the Jewish people,African Americans,Chinese ect.)Well everything changed for me in elementary school when the Italian Pope died and they elected to every ones surprise a Polish Pope. Even though I wasn't Catholic this meant so much to me. How can you pick on me for being Polish when the Pope is Polish I would say. I would say we are good people!I didn't even grow up with other Poles or speak the language and here I am speaking on their behalf. This Pope turned out to be a great leader. Thank God!! His leadership gave me self esteem and pride. My group had a place in this Society because we had one of us in a great leadership role. I wasn't less than the others or the dumb Pollack anymore. I was still going to hell but now I could do it with pride! I think about this and see Barack Obama as this same kind of leader for not only the black community, but all those that have felt less than because they aren't white. As time has gone on, my lack of religious affiliation isn't important anymore. I think Pope Paul did that too. He brought his brand of religion together with the other Christians. Most important, he also reached out to all the other religions beyond Christianity. He stood for people to be good to one another no matter what their views were.He stood for Humanity and civility. My school mates that picked on me didn't do this because they were exceptionally mean children . They did it because they didn't know any better. Raising the consciousness of how our actions have a negative impact no only on us but the people around us should be our priority. We stand for Freedom and Democracy, doesn't it begin here with simple humanitarianism! I have high hopes that Obama can do this too for our culture to make us one people as we should be. My experience is nothing of what the Black American has struggled through. They had to raise themselves from slavery over two hundred years of struggle. In 1863 when President Lincoln signed the Bill of Emancipation giving them freedom they rejoiced. Their rejoice came to an end as they were held down by lack of education,employment and the simple right to vote. I will never compare my simple ethnic and religious struggle to the plight of the Black American. This is a monumental moment for them. I do understand from my little experience with prejudice the pride that they are feeling. They have a great role model in Barack Obama along with many others like Colin Powell and Condolessa Rice. I hope this can be a new beginning in a more civilized America. With that said I will talk about being a women in a male society during to 60's and 70's another day. You can contact me at

Political Excitement

I can't remember an election that held so much excitement, enthusiasm and interest. My 23 year old son called me from Nevada at eleven o'clock (my time) with such excitement to tell me the news about the new President. His enthusiasm is just an example of what this election has done for the American public. My son was a voter but really didn't feel that his vote counted. This election brought hope and tears of joy and relief. After placing my vote I found myself getting all choked up as I left the voting booth. This is the first time in my life that I watched every debate and stayed up to watch the final vote and the speeches from the candidates. John McCain showed his best side as a hero full of grace in his speech last night. It takes a strong and dignified man of character to stand in front of the public and gracefully take defeat. I hope that in the coming year that Obama will find a position for John Mc Cain to help in our struggle to over come the obstacles ahead.
I had such fears for our future if Mr. Mc Cain was to be elected. Even though he has fought congress and the senate for change I still felt he stood for the "Old Guard". We need to make greed a thing to be ashamed of. The current culture in the white house seems to celebrate greed and deceit. I was afraid for women's rights with the Rowe versus Wade act. I fear too much religion in politics. It is going to take a lot of work on behalf of all of us to keep this momentum moving forward. It is time to stand up against corruption in all facets of our lives. I remember when I was a little girl and John Kennedy was president. I loved him. I remember when the president made a television announcement we all watched with great anticipation of what he had to say. This was on a black and white television with really poor reception by the way. As a six year old child I would listen to his speeches and repeat different slogans like "It is not what our country can do for us but what we can do for our country". I feel the same excitement now! I have hope that we can rebuild and make this the great country that we all love. I also like to the idea of not being afraid to criticize something about our country. That we should be in a constructive state of mind. The past few years you were afraid to speak out against certain things. I was even afraid to speak out loud that I was voting for Obama because "Old Guard" was so guarded and made you feel like a communist, socialist, or a liberal. I have to say I just couldn't take it anymore! My business has been trampled by the economy, my lifestyle diminished but most important my hopes and dreams had been shattered. I have new hope that maybe I will get to retire someday. That I might even pay off my bills and mortgage. That health care isn't out of reach for me. That my retirement account could come back to what it once was! I sell real estate for a living and have for the past 24 years. Hopefully the market will start to rebuild it self starting with one step at a time. At least we are moving forward now!! you can contact me at

Friday, September 26, 2008

My trip out West with my 18 year old: Cleveland Ohio real estate, Politics

My 18 year old graduated from high school this June. He decided to join his brother in Las Vegas while he is trying to figure out what he is going to do with his life. He bought himself a 1993 Cadillac De ville for $1800.00. It had 168,000 miles on it. We set out for Las Vegas from Cleveland Ohio. It was a very comfortable ride but expensive at every gas stop. We got as far as Evergreen Colorado before the radiator blew. Luckily I had one of those cool GPS gadgets that let me know where to closest repair shop and hotel were located.
We called AAA and within a half hour we were rescued from the mountain side highway where we broke down. The tow truck driver was wonderful and even dropped us off at the hotel after dropping our car at a service station that he recommended based on the mechanic. We had our car fixed at Big O Tire store in Evergreen, Colorado. I have to say they were wonderful. They fit us in and fixed the car in one day. We only had to stay over one night and were on our way the following day. Thank you Evergreen Colorado!

The reason I am writing this blog is on our way out west we stopped at a diner in Illinois. There was a young girl who was pregnant that was our waitress. She was having a conversation with another patron that seemed to be a regular. What was disturbing about their conversation was she had no idea that Hilary Clinton was not still running for office. The guy she was talking with told her that Hilary dropped out of the race and was now backing Barack Obama. She was very surprised! She said she was going to vote for Hilary anyway. What I found to be so disturbing is that no one had a clue of our basic political system. They were unaware that Hilary and Obama had a primary election and that Obama won! This is what is referred to as the dumbing down of America! I truly fear this coming election. If you watch Mc Cains advertisements they are focused on this group of somewhat illiterate people. Maybe we should have a test before you have the right to vote! Should everyone, even the illiterate really have this right. Don't you think that maybe this should be an earned right. something that you are not born with but have to pass a test of competence! Kind of like a drivers license but a voters license! By the way i am pro choice!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Uncle Sam's bailout of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac from the trenches;Cleveland Ohio realestate

As a small broker in Cleveland Ohio my impression "from the trenches" of this latest government bail out is definitely a different perspective. What I saw in the industry before the Fannie Mae Freddie Mac bail out of the bank owned properties were selling for pennies on the dollar. It was like the wild wild west in real estate. A great big give a way! This had a huge effect on the regular market. The inner city and the first ring of suburbs are the ones that have suffered the most. High end markets are not feeling this as badly as our middle class properties. High end markets have suffered some losses in value but it appears that it is still moving along unlike the lessor priced properties. Why would someone buy a home on the resale market if it wasn't hugely discounted like many of these bank owned properties. The answer is few were. You could buy a double for 80k or less and put a few thousand dollars into it and end up with a huge equity savings. I have seen some of these bank owned single family homes in very good condition. You will see that they were on the market before the people lost their home. Then when the bank takes it over they put the property up for half the price. I have seen banks turn down offers on these properties only to turn around and put them up for far less than they would of made. I personally have been involved in three of these recently. The new buzz word in real estate is short sale. I have been doing short sales for 24 years. Sometimes you work out a deal but most of the time you get caught up in a bureaucratic web of who's on first base who's on second. Half of the people presently employed in the loss mitigation departments have no real estate background. They don't understand the dynamics of the industry. They just do what they are told and carry a huge work load. Since the bail out any bank owned property that was listed has had a really hard time getting answers on offers. I have had an offer in on one for over a week. Before the bail out anything in escrow seemed to be tied up. Now that the bail out occurred the properties that are in escrow are all getting cleared off the books and the deals appear to be set to close. All the brokers that I know who work the REO market are complaining that the listings are all dying out. Their sources of business continually keeps changing. Maybe this is a good thing! Maybe the slow down in the marketing of these bank owned properties will give the regular market a chance to catch up. I do know that "from the trenches" this last week made the phones stop ringing. It is the end of September and we have a long winter a head of us in Cleveland. Making a living in this continually declining environment has never been more challenging.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rant on Community Development Programs

The other day I had a client that I sold a home to in 1995 come into my office for advice on investing in real estate. A lot of agents would listen to this persons situation and figure how many homes they can sell them. This is what I call making a fast buck. I explained to this person the good and bad of owning rental property. Call me a Buzz kill but until you own it outright there really isn't much profit. You used to be able to count on inflation to help make the profit grow. By this I mean as value went up you could raise the rents and try to pay off your loan quicker or use that money as extra income. I own rental property and I haven't raised rents for 4 going on 5 years now. My taxes have gone up and the cost of repairs,services, gas, water and sewer have gone up. As I sat there I realized that this person has a great background in Human resources. I suggested starting a non profit community development program. My idea is that you get some government grants and funding, or find private benefactors to finance people in depressed areas of town. This community service would be like an old fashioned bank. The goal is to teach people how to purchase and own a home. It also would have programs on simple home repairs along with how to balance a check book and even open a checking acct.,write a check and avoid penalties. This service would also look to develop businesses in the area to support the neighborhood. A dry cleaner, florist, funeral home, grocery store, shoe repair, ect. Isn't this how banks got started? Isn't this how we started the American dream? The problem is there are all these community service organizations collecting funds to do just this but not delivering the goods. Yes a few people earn a paycheck and some people benefit. We need to revamp the system and make some huge changes and hold people accountable when they get these funds. All I see as a Realtor is a bunch of smoke and mirrors. Lets have a housing fair put a few homes on tour and serve lunch! We need a grass roots campaign that starts with educating those who want to live in a community and help build one. We have to start making opportunities for these people instead of just handing them a house or free rent. Everyone feels better when they have earned something and can be proud. There is an organization called Habitat for humanity. It gets a bunch of do gooders together to build a new home that they turn over to some lucky family. This is what I call a hand out. It is not teaching them how to survive.there is an old statement about teaching a man to fish.when you teach how to fish you teach him how to eat for life. Give him a fish and you only feed him for one day. We need to pull together as a community and start teaching the people in these lower valued communities how start being a part of a community with home ownershipb usiness, and pride. Cleveland magazine just had an article about beigna true suburbanite. You took a quiz and it was funny but it said a lot about values and neighbors. A great example of one man making a huge difference is Clint Williams who owns a small real estate company in Berea and Olmsted Falls. About 30 years ago before I got into real estate I went on a job interview to be a decorator. The man I met was Clint Williams if my memory is correct. I didn't know him or of him in any way. I was young and he was trying to explain to me his vision. I met him at his commercial development in Olmsted Falls. Back then it was a couple of old buildings. They didn't have anything but shells. They were kind of old looking like frontier land at an amusement park. I don't know if it was because I was young or if he just couldn't explain his vision to me but quite frankly I thought he was crazy. I left the interview not wanting the job and went on with my life. Many years later I got into real estate and again crossed paths with this man. Now I am not saying I like this person, we never could see eye to eye. He beat me out of a couple of sales because I was working in his area or neighborhood. The man was shrewd and and good business man. I never take getting beat out of a deal well so I can't say I like the guy, but I respect him. If I ran into him he wouldn't know who I am. My response to him has been to stay out of his way and kind of fly under the radar when operating business in his part of town. That was back when he listed and sold property. Now I think he is into developing commercial deals more. Back to how he is a good example of developing a community and making a profit too. He took what I thought was a bunch of ugly buildings and built a old western style outdoor market with cute little shops and restaurants some of which I have blogged about already. This one man created what I believe is the core of what makes Olmsted Falls charming and quaint. He was working in this town before anyone else thougth it was worth while. When I was new in the business he ruled. You couldn't compete with him on his turf. He has moved on to bigger things and is not such a formidable force now but he has left behind a community that he shaped and formed to be a viable community. He had a vision which I couldn't see 30 years ago but today I marvel at it. I remember that interview and how I thought he was crazy. I bet a lot of other people did too! I don't believe he did this because of great community spirit. I know from my meetings with him it was for profit. Good old fashioned American greed done the right way where everybody wins. Kind of like Legacy Village and Crocker Park but on a much smaller scale. This is what we need to do. Congress just passed a bill to give our community some funds for revitalization. We need to hold these people who get these funds responsible. I am tired of smoke and mirrors and bullshit. Maybe they should stop giving this money to non profits and start letting some dreams come true with old fashioned entrepreneurship.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Return visit to Quince in Olmsted Falls

Jack and I went back to visit Quince this past Friday June 20,2008. Well I only get the plain dealer on Sundays so I was surprised to see how busy they were. I said to Jack do you think it is because of my blog! Of course it wasn't Quince was in the Friday Magazine that Friday. It was packed! We got a table on the second floor and I actually liked the atmosphere better up there. There is a bar with stools and the decorating is a little more comfortable. You could tell the staff was really working hard to keep up. I was a little worried that we might be in for a bad experience. I am delighted to say that the service was excellent. Gregg Korney the chefs parents were there helping out. They are not shy and you could tell that customer service was nothing new to them. His father was charming and his mother adorable. The poor parents were running up and down the steps making sure everything went smooth. Thanks to their helping hand it was seamless. The food came promptly. Jack ordered the steak special. It was seasoned to perfection and set on a cloud of garlic and horseradish mashed potatoes. I actually moaned out loud when I tasted his. I ordered chopped steak in a mushroom ragout and roasted vegetables,only eleven dollars! It was fabulous. The flavors were so satisfying like eating comfort food. We decided that this is one of our favorite restaurants for now. We are looking forward to our next Quince experience!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sandusky Restaurant Find

Recently I got to visit Sandusky Ohio, Okay I'll admit it I went there for bike week! Call it a mid-life crisis. Amongst the street fair of deepfried cheese, corn on the cob and elephant ears I found a jewel of a restaurant. It is Zinc Brassarie located at 142 Columbus off E Market. Right downtown. This precious little find had an excellent wine menu,try "Show" a great cabernet. Everything that came out of the kitchen looked soooo Good!The salads had a wonderful light but tasty dressing. Good bread with flavored butter. Dinner selections for every palette. You can tell the owners put extra care into everything that came out of the kitchen. The service was even great! The owners Audrey and Ceaser are really friendly. They met in Hyde park while going to Culinary school there. This is their dream to have a great little high end Bar restaurant. Thank goodness because Sandusky really needs this gem. After a tough day at Ceadar Point or one of the many fun attractions in Sandusky stop by for a nice relaxing dinner or lunch.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mid June Activity Report Cleveland Ohio

The real estate market took a slight slide the last few weeks. It is my opinion that the current gas prices are starting to take its toll on the general population. Showing activity is down. Even new listing activity is down. Nationally there was a slight spike in new construction prices. Again I think this is due to the gas prices and higher cost of materials. The spike in new construction prices isn't a sign of things looking up, maybe more bleak. In the beginning of the year I thought we were set for a rebound, this slight drop has me concerned that we are in for a far bigger set back then the economist predicted. The suburbs are stabilizing but the urban and first suburbs are feeling real pain in pricing. Maybe it is time for radical change. Maybe this Moral majority should step aside and let them build a few Casinos in Ohio. Redevelop our downtown lake front with some fancy Casinos and Hotels and shops. The flats could be a fabulous condo community with riverfront boat docks with restaurants.
Our goal should be to make Cleveland a convention stop. Gambling is the only way to compete with New Orleans,San Francisco,Orlando, and Hawaii, we have to utilize our assets. Then and only then will we start to see a real rebound.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Restaurant Review

The Moosehead No 3 Hook and Ladder

OLmsted Falls,Ohio

The owners of The Moosehead located in Westlake,Ohio hit a home run with their new restaurant. They are located on Columbia where Columbia does a little turn. It is on the East side just before the tracks. They are located in the old firehouse and spent some money. The decor is just a cute as the Westlake Moosehead but this is fresh, new and larger (so you won't have to wait for a table). It has two bars and dining areas. Two outdoor patios. One that overlooks a wooded ravine and creek. The other overlooking downtown Olmsted Falls. The menu varies just a little bit from the old Moosehead. There are more Vegetarian choices for one thing. They have a deep fried Twinkies dessert. Great sandwiches and salads.
Upscale casual. The service people all dress in adorable costume. It is bright and friendly and I strongly recommend it. NO liquor license on Sunday
Another great restaurant is Quince
just across the street from the Hook and Ladder in the quaint Olmsted Falls
shopping area. The chef has been with some of the top places in town such as Sushi Rock,Velocity,and Giovanni's. This doesn't have a lot interior pizazz but the food makes up for it. The menu is exceptional and very creative. I had the seafood mac-n-cheese and it was fabulous. I couldn't come near to finishing it so I bought it home. My teenager polished it off and he doesn't even like seafood. My companion had the special strip steak with bacon and Gorgonzola. I have never seen a more generous serving of toppings. Wonderful!! The salad was light but tasty. I will put this on my list of favorites. Get off the beaten path and try Olmsted Falls for your next dinner out.
Not open on Sunday

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Is your home still a good investment?

I sell real estate in Cleveland Ohio. We are in a declining market. That means values are going down. So what do you do if you are thinking of making a move? First of all some moves can't wait. If you are in the process of getting a divorce, settling an estate, faced with a relocation, etc.
The faster you get into reality of the present market and look at what the market is doing as compared to your property the faster you will see a sale pending sign in the yard. Homes are selling. The buyers are educated and armed with more information than ever because of the Internet. Gone are the days when some poor jerk happened into your open house and fell in love and purchased your home. Buyers look up your past history. I know when they are interested because they tell me what you bought your house for. They look at the neighborhood through websites like and Zillow. They can see what the average is for market time, sale price per sq ft, etc. for each neighborhood. Realtors are no longer the gatekeepers of information.
You have to be the best looking home and the best price. Price is the driver in this market. If you are trying to sell your home for what you think is a comfortable price then you are not priced right. The only clients that have a sold sign on the front lawn are the ones that sold for what they felt was a painful price. That is what happens in a declining market. If you are looking to purchase a new home and take advantage of this excellent opportunity to upgrade, than this is how your have to approach your move; 1.Realize that you are getting great price on your
purchase 2. Realize you have to give a good deal on your house. You are just trading assets. Hopefully, the new home purchase is in a more expensive, more stable area. When the market returns you will be fine. Decide which property you want to be riding on when the market starts to go back up. Realize the losses are larger the higher the value . You are going to have to ride this out where ever you are. You might as well take the opportunity to upgrade now instead of later. If you are happy with your home and aren't considering a move. Look at the foreclosure down the street from you and think about buying it for rental property. You can sell it when the market goes back up and in the mean time you have helped stabilize your own neighborhood.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Some good news in The Cleveland Real Estate Market

I have never seen such opportunity to get into ownership as I have seen in this recent market. If you have ever dreamed of becoming a land baron this is the time to make your dreams a reality. If you have a stable income, good credit, some cash to work with and the ability to fix property it is time for you to get off the bench! The bank owned properties are selling for a substantially lower prices than normal resale properties. You have to be ready to replace torn out plumbing, update electrical and probably replace the furnace and hot water tank. Other than that some of these homes have really nice interiors. Years back when a bank owned property came on the market it was pretty beat up. With the pace of foreclosures and people just simply giving back their homes it has become and incredible opportunity for the wanna be investor. Some words of advise though, don't bite off more than you can handle. I have seen some really good people take on too many properties or extend themselves to far out just to find themselves in the same boat as the people they hoped to profit from.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Ohio officially designated as Declining Real Estate market

As of April 1,2008 the State of Ohio has been labeled as a declining market. This is across the board for the whole state. I have been told that the banks are now considering your real estate property values are now 7% lower than they were last year. This is an average. If you are in a more volatile market such as Cleveland proper you may be looking at lower even values.What does this mean to you? If you are using a line of credit on your home you may be hearing from your bank soon. They are very likely to lock your line at its present loan amount and lower your limit to what you have presently extended on it. If you are selling your home, the loan qualifications just got tighter। If you are an investor looking to make a good deal in this time of opportunity you will need more cash out of hand to purchase. Is this good? Not really this is going to cause more problems. Instead of the banking industry looking to take advantage of this market and find a way out they have just buried us into a even harsher environment.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cleveland Real Estate Crisis

I may not be a economist, but I am in the trenches selling real estate in Cleveland. I have never seen so many vacant and foreclosed homes in my 23 years of selling. I am a full time agent and this is my only form of income. The market is brutal. We need to reinforce rules of the industry more than ever before.
It is also very important to understand that there are two markets out there. The foreclosure market where you may get a really great deal or end up with a money pit. Many of these foreclosed homes have been sitting vacant for years. The plumbing has been ripped out. Electric has been vandalized. When you buy one of these you don't really know what you are getting yourself into. If the property has sat through a winter with no heat it is no telling what hurdles you will face getting the property to good condition.
The other market that is out there is the lived in resale that has been cared for and updated. Many of these are in absolute mint condition. These homes are selling! They just aren't getting 2005 prices!! If you buy one of these homes you are not missing out on the deal of the century. You are getting a home in prime condition that hasn't increased in value over that last 3 years. Maybe it even decreased as much as 10%. The important thing to realize is when the market rebounds. Historically values start to increase again. So whether you are buying as fixer upper that you will put thousands of dollars into or getting one that is in prime condition you will still come out ahead in the long run.
The other dilemma is selling a home in this market and then buying. If you are buying a bigger home you will take a small loss on the selling end of your home but you will make up for it on the purchase end. Like transferring stock at a down period but purchasing one that has a greater opportunity to increase in value.

It is a tough market. Hopefully all the part time nonprofessionals will get out. Real Estate is still the best investment. You can live in it,write off the interest and taxes, and earn money by paying down your mortgage and during times of inflation your value grows.

Sandy Maline