Monday, November 9, 2009

Extension of Tax Credit

With great expectations the house and senate passed the tax credit. This is now up to an $8000.00 dollar credit ($5000.00 less than the old one) for first time buyers with higher income limits. It also passed a credit of up to $6500.00 for the move up buyer. You have to have lived in your present home for 5 years within the last 8 years and be under contract for either credits by April 30th and transfer by June 30 2010. Did this cause more activity in the Real Estate market? Not yet! I am hoping that there is a delayed response to this. I know I plan to put my house up in February. I practice Real Estate in Ohio. It is November and while we have had incredible sunny and warm weather the market still feels kind of dormant. Here in Ohio from November to March traditionally the market slows down. With this new tax incentive we may have a better sales season this winter. As long as the weather holds out I have hope. When the snow gets going and there is a foot of snow out there motivation to look at real estate become pretty low. You can't see what you are buying for one thing. It seems that every winter I have a buyer who drags me out to look through all sorts of properties and they never buy. I have had these people call right after blizzards! Usually they are going through a life change like divorce,death of a loved one, bad break up or adjusting to an empty nest. No matter how long I have been in this business I still get had by one of these at least once a year. The point is We have a great new tax incentive right smack in the worst season for my location. Hope it has the same energy as the last one. I guess I will buy some UGGS (those ugly warm boots) this year and watch out for the emotional buyer who just really needs attention and not a house.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Free Real Estate info

There is a lot of real estate information out there. Recently I got a first hand look at how harmful this information can be in the wrong hands. I had a customer who was looking for a rental property. Instead of calling me to show her the properties that I was sending her she thought she would cut out the middle man -- "Me" and go direct to the properties that she was interested in. The thing about this is she wasn't paying me for my service! The seller pays the commission. This person knows that she isn't new to the business and her mother is a retired Realtor. Well anyway on a drive by for one of the properties she noticed a condo that might be perfect. She had the listing agent meet her at 7:30 am at the property. This guy is working for the seller. He told a great story and before you know it she was not only renting this property but buying it!! She went on the various websites the give estimates of value like Zillow, Trulia, Hometrends. She saw that the average sale price was $174k. The property that she was interested in was selling for $162,900. The agent told her that he just listed it in August. He failed to tell her that it was last August 2008. She negotiated a wonderful sale price of 158k having them professionally clean it and replace the carpet. Well she was so proud of herself she called me to brag about what a great deal she got for herself without my help. I am still baffled by this because my input would have cost her nothing!! As she was going on and on about it I kept thinking why is she calling me! What is the point here. As I listened to her I realized I knew the property. I can remember showing it twice over the last two years. I asked her if it was the one I thought it was and sure enough it was. This is a unique property in a development. Every other property built there is a townhouse style with 3 bedrooms and a lot more sq ft. There are only a few 2 bdrm ranch style units built here I think two. So when she went to the website she got an average number of 174k. The problem is the she bought the smallest unit in the development. That average number is going to be high. You can not replace a good appraiser and a good Realtor. We have information and experience that the novice home buyer does not! When it costs you nothing to use a professional for advice over a website why would an educated person do this? Ego ! I have to believe she just wanted to show me that she didn't need me. This is like talking to a friend that lets say sells cars. Getting all sorts of info about a certain car and the cost of that car and then going to the competitor and purchasing it. Then calling that friend to brag about it. I don't understand this behavior. It happens over and over again to me and my fellow Realtors. Maybe it is the lack a respect the general public has over this industry. All I know is she paid about 13k too much, will probably decide it is too small and now be stuck with another property that has a higher mortgage than you can sell it for without taking a loss.Before this decline the rule of thumb was you need to live there for 5 years to be able to get out even. That is in a good market. All I could say is it will be a good rental property. I'd love to hear your comments!

35130 Sullivan, North Ridgeville, OH | Powered by Postlets

35130 Sullivan, North Ridgeville, OH | Powered by Postlets

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Aging Why do some people do it better than others?

Recently I have been noticing that some people just don't seem to be aging as fast as others. Now that I'm fifty this is something that I am paying a lot of attention to. The other day I went to a Real Estate mini convention. I have been in this business for 25 years now. So over time I have gotten to know a lot of Realtors. When I was at this mini convention I saw an agent that I have not seen is maybe 10 years. She looked better than when I saw her ten years before. I told her "you don't age"! She laughed at me. I asked her if there was something special that she was doing? Like being a vegetarian, or using a new face cream ect. She just laughed me off saying oh you know I drink and smoke all the time. Then she said no she doesn't smoke. I know smoking ages you and I know drinking is supposed to do the same. Could it be that simple? Just don't pollute your body? Now here's the really odd thing. The class that I took with Miss fountain of youth had a speaker. His name is Hal Becker. I have seen him 3 times over 25 years.He fought a really tough battle with stage four cancer. This guy is energy on steriods. Now usually when you fight a fight like that you look like you've been through a tough time. He looked great!! I sat there wondering what was it that Miss FY (fountain of Youth) and he had in common. They both had great looking skin, their hair wasn't thinning but vibrant! Miss FY had the body of a high school girl without looking sickly skinny. Hal was in great shape bubling with energy and fit as can be!I don't think it comes down to just good genes. The one photo at the top of this article is of a woman aging from 20-70 She is a doctor that believes in skin therapy and sells a product for that. I think it has something to do with diet and exercise. I'm going to bug Miss FY and find out if she works out and what her diet is like. I think I might bug Hal too. Does anybody have any ideas here?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Issue 3

First of all What exactly is issue 3? I looked it up on smartvoter and this is what it reads like:

To adopt Section 12 of Article XV of the Constitution of the State of Ohio.
This amendment to the Constitution would:

Permit up to 31,500 slot machines at seven horse racing tracks and at two Cleveland non-track locations. Permit expanded gaming in the four Cuyahoga County locations if approved by the county's voters. Distribute the revenues as follows: 55% to the slot and casino owners and operators. 30% to the Board of Regents for college scholarships and grants to eligible students and administration of the program. The remaining revenues to be divided among local governments, race tracks for purse money, gambling addiction services, and The administration of the Gaming Integrity Commission comprised of five members appointed by the governor and the majority legislative leaders. The moneys provided by this amendment are to supplement and not supplant existing and future constitutional obligations to post-secondary education and local governments.

All these Ads about 34,000 jobs coming to Oho. Then we have the ads that state these jobs won't go to Ohio people because the Casinos will hire out of state professionals. Now lets look at this. First of all if 34,000 people move to Ohio for a job that is going to bring growth to our state. I know if 34,000 people move to Ohio I will probably be selling a few homes. The banks and grocery stores will get more clients. Restaurants will have more business well you see where I am going with this. The statement that all these jobs will go out to out of state workers is just crazy. First of all how many professionals are left out there. Every other state has opened casinos all around us. Seems to me they will have to do some training to get good help. Also if you were really a good professional in the casino business wouldn't you be in Vegas, or St. Marrten somewhere with better weather than Cleveland Ohio. So the claim that it won't help us is just wrong. Then there is the moral issue. Gambling is dangerous and a sickness. Do you really believe that people who have this problem aren't doing it because we don't have a Casino? Do you really believe that we are drug and crime free because we don't have a casino? Do you really think we don't have prostitution? Come on get real!!! The thing that bothers me in this bill is that the revenues from gambling won't go the city or state. I understand that to encourage new growth we have to give a little. I understand that all these workers will be paying taxes and boosting our economy. We need a Casino in the Flats! They have the Green light to get started with the development. Along with the Medical Mart and Convention Center we may have a shot at an economic turn around. If you have been to Windsor or Detroit you will see that the only thing going is the Casinos. Well we have theaters, the Rock Hall of Fame the Science Center. Wonderful museums and a botanical garden that is absolutely beautiful. We have Fabulous restaurants and neat little sections of town like Tremont, Little Italy to name a few. All this with a lake view!!Come on Cleveland so what if every tax dollar doesn't go to the City and State , so what is some people move to Ohio because of this. Lets vote for Growth and change that can make a difference for all of us!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Rant about health care

Recently if you read my blog you will know that I had the opportunity to experience our health care system in action. I went to the hospital thinking I was having a heart attack. The doctors decided to "ADMIT" me overnight for observation. I have highlighted the word admit because it is wrong. They commit you. Once they do this you can not leave on your own free will. They threaten you with your insurance company telling you that they will not cover your bill if you leave without getting "released" from the doctor. With that in mind, that is how the system starts to treat you. You are no longer a person with rights. Any rights for that matter. They will poke and prod you all night and order whatever tests that they can. Now take the same person with out health care. Chances are they would take a blood test to evaluate the levels of whatever it is they look for I think enzymes and release them once they see the blood levels aren't jumping with bad enzymes. Why I am writing about this months after this experience? This big fight regarding health care is insane! No one is saying what really needs to be said!! The price of health care has gotten out of control in this country. My one night stay in the hospital billed out to a little over $10,000.00. That is insane!! The hospital that billed this is "non profit" I have never seen a more profitable non profit in all my life! Then I went for a follow up stress test. Between the observation (I saw the guy once when he let me out) Echocardiograph and stress test that bill came to over $1500.00 of which I had to pay $230.22. My total patient cost was around $2000.00. I have insurance!!! This is the problem. I am afraid to make appointments to go to the doctor for "well" visits.I think of insurance kind of like a car insurance if I get too many tickets or have and accident or two then my rate goes up. I can barely afford my rate now. Let alone the deductible payments. To top that off can anyone understand the billings that they send you? I went to see my regular doctor who I see maybe once every two or three years. Thought I should follow up. The bill that came in the mail said she charged $330.00 for that visit! The insurance company paid $169.69 of it. I paid $25.00 when I got to the appointment. Somehow $133.22 is not charged because I went to the right provider! Once she sent me for a test and I went to where she asked me to go and it was the wrong provider! I had to pay out of my pocket $800.00. Not only is it too expensive but it is too confusing!! If I had my health care paid for me and my deductible was nothing I wouldn't understand what all the fuss is about either. I am a middle class hard working self employed citizen that at any minute could be put into bankruptcy if I get a catastrophic illness! Why don't we hear that costs are out of control and Americans have the right to basic health care. Who are these people that are against trying to fix a system that has gotten so far out of whack? I've talked with Canadians and they don't complain about their health care. We do!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

In the trenches look at the current Market

The 8k stimulus at first appeared to be doing just what is was supposed to do. I was so busy running as fast as I could to sell as many houses as I could while the going was good. I don't feel like the stimulus has done what it set out to do. It was a quick flash in the pan stimulus. The market has settled back down. Homes are still selling but the hot market is anything under 140k. If your home is priced above 140k it has to be the best on the market in its price range, or have some other outside factor like special location,amenities,design etc.The problem is the stimulus was supposed to trickle up. Get the rest of the market moving. It has in some respect but not enough and not enough to take off on its own. The lending environment is tightening. Commercial loans are almost extinct. The seller has to be giving away a golden goose for the bank to lend on it and if they do lend on it, It won't be on very good terms. You will also need a very large down payment. Cash is king in the commercial sector. The problem is the sellers still don't realize just how hard it is to finance a commercial property right now. There are several great loans out there for first time home buyers. If a buyer has good credit and verifiable income they can even qualify for a few zero down programs. Yes that's right zero down is still out there for a chosen few who have stellar credit and very verifiable income.

I think as the lending market tightens it is going to get uglier out here. City revenues are down 30% because of lower property values and lost income tax. Cities are looking for money and trying to shake you down for taxes even if you don't owe it. I have had this happen so far myself. I recently moved my office to Lakewood from Rocky River. Lakewood is trying to get me to pay taxes for 2008. My office didn't move until 2009. My accountant has written three letters so far. They came up with some figure of what I owe. I have no idea where they came up with this number! My accountant said they are going after everyone trying to shake as much money out of people as they can. This tells me we are in for a very hostile few years with the government. I have always taught my children that you should always pay your taxes. The government is the worst entity to owe money to. The government can go into your bank account and take your money. It can freeze your assets and garnish wages. You are better off owing the local loan shark than our government.

Now we are stimulating the car industry with cash for clunkers. I fear it will be the same thing a false economic growth. There are reports out there about the market getting better. These reports are from sales that happened two months ago. In two months we will see it all fell back down again. Now this car thing will be the same. The good part is everyone in that industry will get a reprieve like we did in the real estate industry. I was able to pay off a lot of debt from the last good run. So hopefully the people who are connected to the car industry can do the same.I am thankful for the last band aid in the real estate industry. Most of us were on the brink! I don't believe that these give aways are going to save us. We need some real industry with jobs attached to get the economy moving. Until we start putting people to work all the fake money give aways won't do anything more than a band aid affect. I hope that this electric car thing will help in creating a industry that can help add jobs and create a product that is in need and easily marketable. If they keep the price point where they say they will it should do just that. It is almost like Ford and the assembly lines all over again. The idea of making the car more affordable. Between insurance and gas onwing a car has become just a dream to a lot of hard working people out there. My son gave up a car (well they took it because of parking tickets downtown) 3 years ago. He rides his bike 7 miles to work and 7 miles home. I worry about him because he works downtown late into the night. He is saving for a car and and has hope to own one by next year.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 5 end of trip

I can't believe we got all that stuff on the bike! We packed up and drove to Niagara on the Falls. We went to the old Casino. The guard at the parking garage let us park by his booth and we have locks for the cases. Jacks new favorite machine is the penny and nickel. You bet $1.50 to $3.00 each time. He really kept winning but only $20.00 at a time. Better than losing! We had lunch at Monticellos right behind the old Casino and it is one of those old restaurants that have weathered time. Frank Sinatra music playing good menu with a New Orleans accent. We were the only ones there. Dave the waiter was great. Jack got a roast beef Po Boy. I had a salad. I took a bite of Jacks sandwich and it was soo good! We went to the Harley store and I got a great sweat shirt. We probably stayed at The Falls a little too long . We got started for Geneva on The Lake at 3pm. We arrived around 6pm. I was exhausted! We had to unpack the bike. At a gas station stop Jack suggested we get out that damned GPS. I refused. He said do you know where the next Hotel is . I said no, we'll find it. Sure enough there were signs everywhere we drove right to it. If we had used that damn GPS thing we probably would have arrived at 8pm. I knew the minute we pulled up to the New Lodge at Geneva I had made a mistake. This is a family oriented place. Nothing wrong with that when you have family but when you are two 50 years olds coming off a bike and having stayed at the Lap of luxury in a Serene Tranquil setting like the Oban Inn, the last thing I want is a circus.This was a big atmosphere adjustment! We got checked in right away and our room had 5 kids and two adults across the hall and next to us. I hoped that they would be to worn out and go to sleep. It was fine until 3am. My room didn't have any shampoo. I was supposed to meet some of Jacks friends and here I am all haggard with no shampoo. I did my best. I was a little cranky at this point. The friend is Kates' best friend that is Jacks deceased wife. I really want her to like me. I was a little nervous. My sister Cheryl called and i told her about meeting Mary. she warned me not to drink too much wine. God knows I might say something wrong! Thanks for the encouragement! In my family I take after my mother who had a knack for saying just the wrong thing at the wrong time. My friends are used to it and sometimes even a little amuzed by it. We went down for diner and decided to sit at the bar. Grown up area! The bartender was great. The poor guy tried to take good care of us but the food service was not great. Jack got his burger about 10 minutes before I got my order. I tasted his burger ans spit it out! It tasted like sawdust. I'm like his taste test canary. This has happened before. He'll just add more ketchup and then wonder why he has stomach ache. Now he lets me taste it and sure enough not good. The manager said this was not the first complaint today and took it off the check. We split my pasta diner it was great. Jacks friends Mary and David came right when we finished diner. They have three kids. Two girls 8 and 2 and a little boy 3years old. They liked the bike. They were very nice and we had a good time. They told us of some of their friends that are dong the Lake Erie thing on real bikes! Back packing all their stuff.
Camping when they need too. Wow, and they are at their last leg of their trip too. They started out last Saturday and were in Toledo last night planning to be back in Euclid today or tomorrow. I thought I was doing great on the back of a motorcycle. This girl who just rode over 600 miles on a bicycle in 8 days get a trophy of some sorts. I think the guy should marry her right on the spot. I mean how many women are going to do that! Back to Geneva on the Lake Lodge. If you look at the pictures it kind of looks like a prison from the outside. Our room was clean and large. We had a view of the pool and the lake. It was funny to notice that the headboard was bolted to the wall. The room did not provide real glassware. It had Styrofoam cups for coffee with a machine and plastic glasses. We went from luxury to just okay accommodations. The bar had Labatts for Jack. He is not a big drinker he'll have one or two beers after riding all day. It is just nice when he gets to have what he likes. Now we have to figure out how to get all this stuff packed back on the bike again. It is only 50 miles home so this will be nothing.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Niagara on The Lake Day 4

With the damn GPS safely locked in the safe we planned our day the old fashioned way. The goal was to relax and rest today. After a very healthy breakfast of fruit, yogurt and pastry we set out for the Harley store. It was a really pretty ride to the store and interesting location. I lost my sunglasses so we had to buy a new pair. Then we found a winery with a restaurant and cooking school. Strewn Winery. We had lunch there. The setting wasn't as pretty as the last place and the wine wasn't as good. The food was excellent but Jack was busy through most of the lunch working out a repair on one of the rental properties back home.Thank God for friends you can count on that are in the trades. Major plumbing problem so we got in touch with Lou. He came right out and fixed everything so we could continue to enjoy our trip. Got back to the hotel and rested until it ws Spa time. Massages and steam room and a natural spring hot tub were delightful.That wonderful pedicure that cost me a fortune didn't last long. My boots ruined the paint on my big toes. Rested up and had a super diner here at the hotel. Walked around Niagara and finally found a bar with Labatts for Jack and Glenlivet scotch for me. I am kind of tired of the wine for now. Would like some Australian Shiraz or California Chardonnay. Last night we tried to have diner at Prince of Wales Hotel. It is a stuffy place with a high end attitude. I love a good chef so I'll put up with it.Jack and I dressed nice. I had on a dress, he had a dress shirt. Well the girl said it will be a few minutes so we said we would wait at the bar. About 30 minutes go by and I watch her sit a dozen or so people. I asked Jack to see if she forgot us. When he approached her she did not recognize him or apologize for the mix up. She was down right unpleasant. He came back and told me what happened. So we decided our money wasn't good enough for them and got up to leave. We went up to this hostess to tell her why we were leaving and again she had no idea who Jack was. Now he is a really big guy. You don't forget him easily. This made Jack a little mad and of course he felt disappointed because I had looked forward to dining there. He asked to speak to the manager. He was the Sommilar (wine stewart). He tried to seat us right away but by this time we didn't want to dine there. There was another couple trying to eat there and the air head hostess told them it would be a few minutes and to take a seat in the lobby. I told them they should stand right there because she would forget about them and that the people who actually got a seat did the same. I have been getting emails from this Vintage hotel line for years. After this experience I won't be returning. The Hotel Oban Inn that we stayed at was wonderful. The rooms were small but lush. I have to say I think Canadians think a double bed is a Queen! The spa was great all the service providers were absolutely great! The rest of the guests weren't real sure about us with the Harley. Funny how people think! We are ready to get back on the road and head for Geneva. Rain is looming and I am sure it will be an adventure!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ingersoll to Niagara on The Lake Day 3

Before we started out today I suggested a route from the map. You know the old fashioned way to travel. We agreed on a route and set out.We took the highway for half the route. Hamilton was the destination and then we were to get off and ride the road along the lake again This time it was Ontario Lake. Well we got off in Hamilton and sat in a parking lot playing with that damn GPS. I finally said put that damn thing away. We always do fine traveling without that damn thing it is just spoiling our time. I said lets just head South and East because that is the way we are supposed to go. Lets just head in that direction and see what happens like the old days before that damn GPS. Well it worked out just fine we came up to a Travel Center I went in found out where the Harley stores are and where we could have a nice lunch at a gourmet winery. We took the wine route from this point on, to hell with the lake! It was beautiful, lots of neat and quaint spots. We found the winery it was called The Kitchen House Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery. We went into this old brick house and were seated out on the patio.Now this is vacation. To hell with that damn GPS! I ordered a heavy oaked Chardonnay and it was just fabulous! Jack got a Martini but only one. He likes Labatt Blue Light and Canadian beer. Before we left Jack said this is great I can get all the Labatts I want in Canada. They are cutting it out of a lot of bars in Cleveland. Well even in Canada Jack can't get his Labatts!
Her ordered a pork tenderloin with sweet peas on top of a blue cheese crusted bread surrounded by roasted cherries grown right there on sight. He moaned with every bite. I am definitely educating his palate! I ordered Salmon on top of mashed potatoes in a bur blanc butter sauce with caramelized cauliflower. Wonderful! This is what vacation is all about! Then we set out for Niagara on The Lake we are to stay at Oban Inn & Spa. We have been so prepared for rain through this whole trip. After that exceptional lunch followed by cappuccino we let our guard down and we got drenched!
After the soaking we made it to the Inn and got right into our room. Everyone was very nice. This is an artsy crowd and the Harley look is a bit upsetting to them.Brings the rebel right out in me! Especially when Jacks shirt says "There are no Rules!

Windsor to Ingersoll Day 2

Windsor to Ingersoll Day 2

Well we have been pretty lucky. We have dodged the rain everyday so far. We had a rough day today. Jack bought this GPS thing to hook on the bike. Our plan was to drive route 3 along the lake to St Thomas then go North to Ingersoll. First we thought we would go to a UPS store and mail our leathers back home. They take too much room and we realized we will not need them. This was a big mistake because it took us away from our plan. It rained a little but we were prepared. We could not find the UPS store so we set out for the lake. The damned GPS fought with us all day. We put 350 miles on the bike and got nowhere. I finally said the hell with the scenic route lets take the highway and get to our destination. It was a really tough ride. We were tired and the bike is heavy with all the luggage. I had high expectations for the Elm Hurst Inn. We have a Queen bed with a big Jacuzzi waiting for us. The place looked a bit run down. They checked us right in and gave us really big brass keys. They had knights of armor in the hallways and it looked like a big sandstone castle. They put us in the basement! No window just glass block. The Jacuzzi was big but the room didn’t measure up to Caesars! We were a little spoiled there. We showered and dressed for diner. It was a quaint dining room with other couples. The food was good and the service was excellent. After the long day fighting with the GPS the Jacuzzi was inviting. Jack fell asleep in it. He is a big guy and I was worried about how I was going to get him out of it. I should of let him sleep there. The bed was really a double bed and it was too soft and lumpy. It was really quiet but we both woke with back aches from the lousy mattress. Breakfast was included. We walked around the grounds and Jack went back 20 miles to London to get more Harley shirts and I stayed for a magnificent pedicure. When I got the bill I realized why it was such a great pedicure it cost $62.00!! The place was little Hokey but it had a personality. Everyone was very nice. Lots of people have weddings there. It was kind of weird because it felt like we were the only people there wandering the hallways. It was a Thursday, I am sure it lights up on the weekends. On to Niagara on the Lake.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Windsor Ontario at Ceasars

Well we didn't need any sun screen! Jack being the engineer that he is had the weather all mapped out so we left for Canada at 9am. Got all the gear packed onto he bike and started out. ten miles into the ride we had to stop and readjust the baggage. We were stopped at Lorain Park and this little old man came up to us admiring the bike. He said he has been riding for 30 years and it is getting too hard for him now. He has a "83" Harley. He was also checking me out which was a little creepy but he was cute with the strangest pair of sun glasses. Wish I had gotten a picture. We made good time and by Sandusky had to put the rain gear on. Jack looks like a clown in his rain pants! (see picture above)We got to the Hotel about 2pm and everyone was great. The bellboys, the front desk and the room has a fantastic view. We lost/won money in the Casino, had a great diner and on the way back to the room we got to share the elevator with Micheal Bolton and his bodyguard. Michael looked old and tired skinny with grey hair and a horse face. He was very self involved and didn't look at us.I think he was angry about something. The bodyguard had a cheap suit on and he was one of those heavy set Asians with long braided hair. I was pretty happy to find out that we were staying on a higher floor than he was, made me feel a little special. Anyway it is over cast and we are waiting the rain out to start our journey to Ingersoll Ontario. We are staying at a beautiful resort called Elm Hurst. We are taking the long way up rte 3 along the lake and then up from
St Thomas to the hotel. We over packed of course and are trying to figure out how to get our leather coats home so we have more room for Jack to buy Harley shirts! This time if we run into any crazy old men I am going to take their picture.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Trip around Lake Erie

Okay so I'm going to show you another side of myself. Yes at 50 I have joined the growing midlife crisis Harley crowd. Jack bought his motorcycle 2 years ago and we have been having a lot of fun riding around and going on short day trips. The great thing is he has this crazy thing for Harley shops. Where ever we go he has to go to the Harley shop and buy a T shirt. From the beginning he said anything I need to do with the Harley he will buy it for me! Good deal! So every time we go into a Harley store I get to go shopping. I have not taken advantage of this too badly. Got some great boots! Anyway we are planning this trip around Lake Erie. All this time of living here, I have never thought about driving around it. Of course he is traveling with the luxury queen so you know we won't be camping. I thought I would write about the trip as we go around the lake. We leave Wednesday and our first stop is Windsor Ontario. We are going to stay at the Caesars Casino resort. Sometimes when we check into a hotel all bikered up they don't react so well. Once a little girl refused to get on the elevator with us! We don't even have any tattoos!I guess the wind blown look is enough. So keep checking back I will keep you posted on this adventure! Right now I have to figure out how to pack 6 days worth of clothes in a saddle bag the size of a purse!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Update on Real Estate Financing

It is the old Chicken or the Egg dilemma, Catch 22. We are faced with a Real Estate crisis comparable to the Great Depression of the "30's" . So what does the Fed do but tighten all the loan products out there. They have put harder rules out to stop all these bad loans. The problem is common sense has gone right out the door with it.
Getting a commercial loan is like finding gold in the mountains. This is so stupid, because we have all these foreclosed homes that could become investments and retirement vehicles for those who still have a job. There are no investor loans out there that don't rob you blind. The banks that are giving investor or commercial loans want "A" property. New development. So what happens to all this foreclosed property? If you don't have cash you can't buy. I would love to take out my 401 k, whats left of it any way and invest it in one of these bank owned foreclosures. My goal would be to pay it off in the next ten years so that I might have a chance to retire and use the rental income to live on. The old days if you had 20 to 25% down on an investment property good credit,and a relationship with the bank you could get a loan on that property based on the income flow of the property. I just had a bank turn down a perfectly good loan because the bank decided they didn't like the property. The buyers had excellent credit and income. The property brought in more than three times the amount of the loan payment, the buyers have other income property, but no they turned it down 6 weeks after it sat on the banker desk! The terms were horrible. Either they were willing to give a 6.5% deal adjusted every three years amortized over 20 years but only a 15 year commitment with nasty pre payment penalties or a 4.25% one year adjustable with no pre payment penalties amortized over 20 year with only a 10 year commitment. Now I know some banks got burned,but the loans they were doing had no common sense. People with sketchy credit and unverified income got low down payment loans with nasty ARM adjustments. I am no rocket scientist but it seems to me that if we want to heal this housing crisis we need to put some loan packages together that are targeted toward getting rid of inventory. We can couple this with an incentive to buy the neighborhood foreclosure and use your IRA to fund it. This investment then becomes another investment tool for the future of the buyer.This will help fix the next crisis of a bunch of aging baby boomers with no income to support themselves in their golden years. Maybe we need to speak up and start a grass roots campaign before this crisis gets out of hand. If you can't finance these properties the values will continue to fall.
If you are going to buy one of these to live in you can get an FHA 203 k loan at 3% down and if you qualify you can get a 2% grant from OHFA so that you only need 1% to buy and then with the 203 k loan you can finance the repairs into the original loan. This avoids second mortgages and works extremely well. They should have this package for the investor but require 20% down. I feel if someone has shown good credit and the skill of owning rental property they should be able to qualify for an FHA 203 k investor loan. The problem is there isn't one. Maybe if we write our congressman and use the term FHA 203 K investor loan long enough they will make it happen.Kind of like putting the cart before the horse!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cleveland City workers freedom to move elsewhere

I suppose if I have a Cleveland Real Estate Blog I should put my two cents in on the latest news regarding city employees having the right to live where they choose. Just that sentence alone puts it kind of in perspective in my book. Isn't that the idea of being an American and living in The United States? The right to live where you want to? The reality is that you probably want to live somewhere else but you can only aspire to live on the lake or in San Francisco etc. That is what our country is made of Aspirations, Goals, and Dreams. The consensus is that now that the city workers some 8000 I hear can move anywhere they would like to, the city might implode! Well out of my last five sales in Cleveland on one of them "had to live in the city". The family that "had to live in the city " would of bought there anyway. They are members of a church in a community of people that draws them there. The other four sales three of them were in the medical field and they wanted to be closer to work and save on the extra taxes you pay when you work outside the city you live in. The fourth one just happened to find the house he liked best in Cleveland. No matter what you say or how you spin it. You still get a lot for your money in the city. Cleveland has pocket neighborhoods some stronger than others. Westpark,Tremont,Old Brooklyn and Ohio City are examples of areas that continue to thrive. When you travel to different cities in other towns I have found that the successful ones have these little niche places. China Town and Little Italy (which we have)can be found in New York,Toronto, and even Detroit Michigan. Taking our common interests and letting them shine attracts more attention,business and economic development. Whether it is culture,art, or religion focusing on what makes an area tick is what will keep these communities strong. Rules to make people live in certain locations may have an small impact on value but I believe it will even out. As long as you get more bang for your buck people are still going to live in the City.(picture by Hector M. Vega)

Monday, May 25, 2009

The state of our Health Care

I recently had the opportunity to see first hand how our medical system is doing.
Since the first time buyer market has been so alive I am running as fast as I can trying to be everything to all and get every possible sale. We don't know what the future holds here in Ohio . Well I guess I over did it a bit. About a week ago I had chest pains. So I took and aspirin and a very nice glass of scotch and settled into a nice hot bath. This worked very well. Then a week later I had the same feeling chest pains anxiety, sweaty shaky feeling. I just read an article in More magazine (magazine for 40 an up)about women and heart attacks and how the symptoms are tricky. Jack my fiance and Lynn my girlfriend who works for the clinic talked me into driving to the hospital. I was really scared. I started to cry. I called me oldest son just in case he was around. When he answered the phone (which is rare) My little voice came out. You now when you try to talk normal and you sound pathetic! He was at work and said he would be right there. Of course I told Jack to stay at work because we don't want him to lose his job. Sometimes when I look back at the way I think I find it strange. Amazing my loved ones hang in there with me.
Once I got to the hospital I kind of felt stupid. Here I am dressed for work in a skirt and high heels. When I went to park they asked me why I was there . To get past the guard arm and into the parking lot I had to tell the guard that I am bringing myself to the emergency room. That was just weird. If it was someone else who said I AM TAKING HER TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM! It just seems okay then. I get in there and have to wait for triage. I am standing there thinking I might faint! If I do will I split my head open too! Finally someone comes out of the door to talk with a man and I say excuse me I think I am having a heart attack!
She says come with me so I follow her her thinking this is strange. My legs are shaky, I am a nervous wreck and I think I might cry. She drops me in front of a desk of nurses and doctors and says to them can you take this she thinks she is having a heart attack. One guy says follow me. So I do and my legs are still there they haven't gone out from under me yet. I am shaking but no one really seems to care. He gets to a room and he says to me to wait outside he needs to clean it up. Great. No one offers a chair. I am still shaking and my chest feels tighter and I am now crying
My phone is ringing Oh, I have a business call, I let it go to voice mail. In fact I just turn it off at this point.I am feeling like I might just sit on the floor right there in the emergency room, high heels skirt and all. I am a germ Phoebe though and the thought of what is on that floor keeps my head busy enough to keep me standing. Finally they put me in the room and I sit down with relief that I am not going to crash down on the floor. These people act like I know my part here. Finally this guy says we need you to take off you shirt and bra, we have to hook you up. Oh okay and that's when their little party started! I am a real scared cat when it comes to needles. Before I know it I have a needle in one arm electrodes all over me. They had me aspirin. Give me Nitro. Shoot my belly with something that really hurts. I have oxygen. My blood pressure is very very high. They keep asking questions about is this normal for me. Of course not!My son gets there and shortly after that Jack arrives. They are concerned. It takes a few hours to get me blood pressure down. I have my blood drawn every three hours always from a different source. They admit me it takes hours to get a room. I am going to share a room with a ninety year old lady. She looks very nice and excited about the company. Oh no this isn't good at all. They tell me they are going to keep me for observation.I tell them that's okay I can go now I feel fine. The tell me that I am not allowed to leave on my own free will. I have been admitted which really means committed. I have lost all free will. They poke and prod and draw blood. The room next door sounds as though there is a party going on. People talk in loud voices at 2 am nobody is allowed to sleep. What happened to those lovely nuns who tiptoed down the hallway shushing people to be quiet and the gentle touch of a caring person. I am a human pin cushion. I haven't had a drink of water,or food for over twelve hours. Jack tells me I am not a good patient. He gets me a Walkman so I can plug my ears and not appear to be unfriendly. he brings me a book and recharges my phone/blackberry. What a wonderful man I have found! He takes really good care of me. Now it is my goal to get out of there. They schedule me for a Sono gram of my heart. Finally it is my turn for this test. I pass with flying colors. I talk to this very charming heart specialist with a beautiful accent. I tell him that I liked my scotch treatment a lot better then his. He laughs and schedules me for an out patient stress test and thankfully releases me from that mad house. The sweet roommate of mine is sad to see me leave as I can't get out of there fast enough. I get home and sleep until the next day. This whole time I have manged to do business via blackberry. The first day back I am up and running like a hamster on the wheel all over again. Lucky for me Memorial Day is coming and I can get a little break! Never once while I was in that hospital did anyone ask me my preference of treatment. They didn't care if I was a vegetarian or if I wanted holistic care. It was drug upon drug upon drug. The nurses would show up and administer what the doctor told them. The doctor spoke to me maybe 3 minutes total once I was admitted. The emergency room nurses and doctors seemed more human to me. The emergency staff talked to me like I am a person. I will never go to the hospital again unless I am carried in or kicking and screaming. That is an ordeal that I hope I am lucky enough to avoid. There needs to be changes to this system beyond billing and giving available care. We need to bring some peace and comfort through those doors. I felt like I was trapped in a horrible medical experiment. It is very clear to me that these nurses are overworked. The stress on their faces were apparent. There was a big management meeting the day I was there and everyone was talking about it. I think they have too many Chiefs and not enough Indians. Everyone seemed fearful of losing their jobs. I gotta say the place was packed they certainly were working at full capacity from my standpoint. Somethings gotta give. Unless you are a big money donor to the hospital the care is comparable to flying coach. They squeeze as many in, offer few choices and cut the staff to bare bones. Not my idea a quality care!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Spring Market

As soon as The Obama $8k credit was issued the market thawed. I have been running seven days a week showing houses like it was 1985!! Thank you I am thrilled to be working hard again and selling property. It is still a tough market. The prices are still down and the homes that sell are either a rock bottom price fixer upper or the best priced and in the best condition. This goes across the board. All neighborhoods and prices ranges. The buyers out there wants a deal. If you find yourself thinking about selling the sooner you realize that you are going to take a hit on your price and make it up on the other end the faster you will get your home sold. I have seen pristine homes priced what seemed to be fair just sit there. If you are listed for sale and you are not getting showings the market is telling you that you are priced too high. I recently got engaged. My Fiance is getting ready to list his house. We have redecorated every room in the house. Added new carpet and a new roof. 10k later we are ready to put it up. Some guys don't get this( I'm lucky Mr Right got it) so I always tell them if you were going to sell a car what would you do? The first thing they say is clean it and shine it up. Well that is what you have to do to sell a house too. Remember when your house is on the market you are showing it, living in it is what you do when you are not showing it!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Stimulus plan and the current real estate market

I am feeling optimistic for the first time in two years. Since Obama passed the stimulus plan I have been showing houses like the old days! I am working a 7 day work week happily. Whether you agree with this new president or this stimulus plan, I have to admit my phone is ringing. I feel like the market is picking up and that I may actually have a good year. This feels so much better than the downward spiral my business was experiencing. The good news is that all the pencil sharpening I have done will help expedite my recovery.

I don't know if the worst is over yet. I do know that I have seen some changes in the real estate industry since this downturn began. Gone are the days when an agent would run a contract to close it at midnight. Brokers opens that used to be packed with agents looking to see the latest listings, have become an outdated method of selling. Along with Thank Goodness! Open houses. Yes, you still can get a few buyers through and yes you can still sell a house through an open house. Open houses also have a bad side in that it invites complete strangers into your home to wander through, and depending how busy it is sometimes unattended. If the home is vacant it puts the agent in danger as we have just seen two attacks on Realtors in the recent news. The Internet has made it easier to view listings on line helping to eliminate a lot of homes that just would not do.

The biggest change is the way the agents are doing business. They have also lost that urgency. It used to be you would write a contract and get it presented usually in person. Now you fax it off or email it to the listing agent and wait to hear the outcome. With the invent of cellphones, email,text messaging,scanning the real estate agent can handle the contracts anywhere. In the past I have missed my sons second birthday party, Left a dinner party or a picnic, that I was giving, cancelled a date with friends all just to close a deal. Because when that buyer decided to write an offer it wasn't closed until delivery. Delivery meant that like superman I would drive through a snow storm to get an initial on a contract(which I have done).No wonder I've been divorced twice! Now we simply email it off and fax it forward. This is good news.

With all this technology we have also gotten some lazy Realtors out there. This past weekend I was denied 5 showings! With all the news about how hard it is to sell a house in this market you would think that you would at least be flexible about getting people in to see your home. I talked with several other agents and they have complained about the same thing. Some of these homes have been on the market for over 300 days. Maybe they are just tired of showing it. One was removing wallpaper so we rescheduled. There are still some many houses on the market that you don't always get a second chance. If I try to show it a second time and they can't accommodate me I just take it off the list. One agent I talked with said, oh well my buyers wrote on something this weekend(lucky her) so whoever denied a showing lost out.

There have been big changes over the last ten years. I think that this market has made me a stronger agent. The thought of a seller having to write a check at closing to get their home sold used to be unfathomable. After losing money myself and taking the hit I can only sympathize. It just is, what it is! I have watched people pay off their credit cards with the equity of their home and live large off the equity and expect to sell with no consequence. I find myself saying frequently I am no magician! Hopefully this stimulus will get buyers not only out there but buying. That will help get things moving such as the banker and the title company, the movers and the carpet industry. When people buy new homes thry spend more money in decorating, and landscaping ect. Hopefully this will employ more people which starts the cycle moving round and round instead of plunging further down. I am no economist. I do believe if people are buying homes, that means people are spending money on other things related to their home purchase.
I'd love to hear your comments!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Our Political system

Is everybody crazy out there? I am so appalled by the corporate and political greed. There is no shame in what we used to call white collar crime. Not only have these large corporations robbed their companies blind but it as if they are raising the bar on white collar crime. They even have the audacity to ask our government to bail them out!! Then we vote in a new president whose entire campaign was around stimulating the jobs of the middle class. The republicans stood on the podium and took pieces and parts of the bill and made jokes about it. For instance there was some money appropriated toward wetlands in California. Part of this project was to get a certain rodent that is good for that environment back to a healthy number. This senator (I don't remember which one) called it a 3 billion dollar bill for rodents! That is not what it was but if you are a senator and don't feel like reading the 1000 page bill all through the night you might have believed him. This is not fair or healthy politics. I would hope that they would sit down and go over line by line of this 1000 page bill together and work out what is best for all of us. Instead they stood on podiums and picked things apart so that the truth and the problems were too hard to see. I don't believe this is what our fore fathers had in mind. I believe when Barack Obama talked about partisanship he meant working together. This wasn't working together on either side. How can you work with someone when they are taking pieces and parts of a bill and making a mockery of it. Maybe it is time for the common man to start having the opportunity to hear all these bills that are to be passed by the government. It is the computer age! Why can't we put a copy of this bill in front of the senate out there for all to read. Why can't we update it as things are negotiated. Why can't we cast an Internet vote about how we feel about these things. We are the ones paying for it after all! Let me know what you think!