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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING (By Francie Baltazar-Schwartz)

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Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!"

He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?"

Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.' I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life."

"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested.

"Yes it is," Jerry said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live life."

I reflected on what Jerry said. Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant business: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers.

While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center.

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.

I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my scars?"

I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place.
"The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," Jerry replied. "Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live."

"Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked.

Jerry continued, "The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read, 'He's a dead man.' I knew I needed to take action."

"What did you do?" I asked.

"Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me," said Jerry. "She asked if I was allergic to anything. 'Yes,' I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Bullets!' Over their laughter, I told them, "I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead."

Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.

Attitude, after all, is everything.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Eights Steps Toward The Front Door of Your Beautiful New Home!

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We know how exciting it is to be planning for a new home.  Everything should be perfect and there is no room for anything to go wrong.  Armed with the expert knowledge of your experienced and friendly Realtor, following the eight steps mentioned below, in conjunction with our previous blog post “Five Things You Need to Know When Buying a Home”, you will be in the best position to be in the best home for you and your family.

Work Up Your Wish List

Understanding exactly what it is that you need in a home is a huge step.  Without realizing it, many potential new homeowners have no idea what they want or need when it comes down to looking for the perfect home.  Through working with your Realtor on a needs breakdown, you are shown the areas that are most beneficial for the needs of your family and lifestyle.  Finding the perfect home can only be done if you know what the perfect home for you is.  

Do Some Home-Searching

Looking for the home of your dreams is not a matter of poring over real estate magazines or searching endless Google searches; it’s a matter of having access to the latest and greatest listings that are relevant to you and your needs.  We provide you exclusive access to our MLS system that will accurately and quickly show you the results with hundreds of potentially perfect homes.  The information remains updated, with current property listings maintained on a regular basis.

Let Them Know You’re Interested

Once you have identified what your perfect home is, have searched high and wide for the one that fulfills your dreams and have centered on the ideal property – the next step is to make an offer on the property.  With our guidance, you will be shown the best ways to manage this aspect of your transaction.  Important advice will be administered that will help you to be sure of your decisions and then the proper assistance will be given to follow through with the decision and offer-making process.  

Dilly Dally With Dollar Amounts

Unless hardcore buying and selling transactions come naturally to you, it can be difficult to negotiate with the existing homeowners.  Using your agent as a buffer, the negotiation process can and does become an easy one, managed entirely through liaison communication, putting the burden of results on the agents negotiating the sales on their clients’ behalf.

Ensure Smooth Sailing Within All Services

As soon as your offer is accepted, there are the tedious procedures that involve vendors.  For services from anything from termite inspections and building code checks to title insurance or other vital steps along the way, having someone who is experienced and has managed hundreds if not thousands of such transactions, is ideal.  Not only will this remove the burden of the stressful aspect of a new move from you, it will clear up the way for you to start planning on the fun stuff like registrations in neighborhood schools, signing up for utilities and getting to know your potential neighborhood.

Get The Documents Lined Up

One of THE most daunting aspects of buying a new home is the mountains and mountains of paperwork.  Ok, so it may not be that much, but it seems that way for people who are unfamiliar with the language in those documents and the meaning behind what is written.  Preparing documents prior to the closing process is an important part of the entire thing and it requires meticulous attention to detail and a working knowledge of the contracts.

Finalize Everything Flawlessly

While closing on the sale of your new home is the most exciting part – especially after having gone through weeks and sometimes months of getting to this point – the closing step is a crucial one and has the potential to slow things down if not handled flawlessly.  Your Realtor will work to ensure smooth sailing during this stage so that you can focus on the prize – your new home!

Wrap the House Up In a Neat Bow

Now that everything is said and done, the real fun begins.  During post-closing time, it’s time to move in your furniture, acquaint yourself with the ins and outs of your new area and complete the package.  The support and assistance you will get from your partners in real estate will be pivotal at this junction since they will have seen you through all stages of this exciting venture.  Being the biggest purchase in their lifetime for most people, this last step is the most fun.  

When you trust an agent to help you with all the steps mentioned above, you KNOW you can focus on the more exciting parts of moving in to your new home.  By leaving the tedious things like poring over long documents and tiny fine print, you can enjoy the process of looking for your home using our services such as exclusive access of the latest listings.  At the end of the day, you can look forward to years of lasting enjoying in your new home!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mecklenburg and Union Counties – Market Status Update

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There’s no better way to understand the real estate market than to understand what is happening in your own local marketplace – that’s why each month, I am going to share key and relevant statistics with you.  The information you receive will help to shape your real estate plans and also prove to strengthen your understanding of what we are experiencing in our own neck of the woods.

Below are the market stats in terms of some key areas that highly impact where we are headed in the coming months.

Mecklenburg County

With 6,697 homes on the market right now, at the present time we are reporting 2,220 pending sales and 4,477 active listings.  The pending sales ratio is 33.1%, indicating the beginnings of a balanced supply and demand market.  The higher the ratio, the more that listings are in demand.

The highest number of pending contracts fall within properties in the $50,000-$100,000 price range.  The next price range bracket of $100,000-$150,000 has a relatively large inventory of properties for sale at 697 listings.  Mecklenburg County’s average list price for all price ranges is $349,999.

The previous six months have shown a total of 3,616 closed contracts with an average sold price of $206,356 – the most sold listings coming under the $100,000-$150,000 price range.  Conversely, 3,698 listings remain on the market and have remained so for the last six months for a multitude of reasons ranging from overpricing and inadequate marketing to properties shown in less-than-optimal condition.  The highest number of off-market listings at 692 properties falls within the $100,000-$150,000 price range.

The higher the number of Days On Market, the stronger a buyers market it is and in Mecklenburg County the current average DOM is 123 days, indicating a buyers’ market.  The average DOM over the last 6 months is 112 days with the fastest selling homes during this time frame in the $0-$50,000 price range. Evidence of a shifting market, the average sold price for the last 30 days was $226,783 with a DOM average of 106 days.

We currently have 7.4 months of inventory according to the previous 6 months sales figures.  Assuming that it would take this much time to sell all the current inventory if market conditions remained the same, this indicates a reasonably balanced market leaning toward buyers at the present time.

Union County

The total number of homes on the market in Union County is currently 1,981 with 531 sales pending and 1,468 active listings.  The pending ratio is 25.9%, indicating more supply than there is demand.  Homes available in the $100,000-$150,000 price range are experiencing a relatively large number of contracts pending sale.  Similar to Mecklenburg County, the price range of $150,000-$200,000 is reporting a larger inventory of properties for sale at 269 listings.  The average list price for all price ranges in Union County is $329,603.

The last six months have had 964 closed contracts with an average price of $244,799 – with the highest number of sold listings in the $150,000-$200,000 price range.  Conversely, 1,036 listings remain unsold during the last six months for the same reasons afflicting unsold properties in Mecklenburg County.  The highest number of off-market listings at 190 properties are in the $150,000-$200,000 price range.

The average number of Days On Market for property listings in Union County is 138 days, with the DOM during the last six months reported at 119 days.  The previous six months reveals an average sold price of $244,799 with the fastest selling properties selling in the $450,000-$500,000 price range.

The Union County average sold price during the last 30 days was $235,410 with an average DOM of 116 days, indicating a changing trend toward a sellers market in our marketplace.

Right now we are looking at 9.1 months of inventory in Union County as per the last 6 month’s sold properties.  This would indicate a sellers market given that it would take that much time to sell all existing property listings on the market assuming conditions remain the same.
If you would like to explore your options, study the market statistics above in greater details or even just assess your current real estate situation – contact me and I will be glad to assist you with all your real estate endeavors!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

3 Ninja Tactics to Defend Your Price

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When it comes to selling your home, you're likely to get all kinds of advice from people who might be well-meaning, but do not have the knowledge necessary to really guide you on pricing your home.  There's no question that this real estate market is challenging for many home sellers, especially if they don't know the ins and outs of pricing their home to sell.

In this article, I want to go over my three ninja tactics to defend your price when selling your home.  Forget everything that you think you know about pricing your home, and implement these strategies.  You will be head and shoulders above your competition.

Tactic #1: Homework

The first tactic is to do your homework.  What I mean by this is that you have to know every available competitor in your marketplace.  You need to study and to view every home that is competing with yours.  Look at their price, how long they've been on the market, their motivation for selling, the price they started at and at the condition of the home.

It's important to note that you don't need to just look in your own immediate neighborhood.  You should go out to competing neighborhoods within 5 miles of your home.  This is especially true for new construction if there is any available that would compete with your property.

Tip #2: Perceived Value

Tip number two is that you need to consider your home's perceived value.  Think about when you purchase a certified pre-owned vehicle.  It's very likely that the dealership purchased the vehicle at wholesale prices on the auction block just a couple of weeks before it's sitting out on their lot for sale.  However, they can often ask 25% to 40% more for the vehicle than they paid simply because they certify the vehicle.

They clean it up, do a thorough inspection and fix the problems with the vehicle before they put it up for sale.  This gives potential car buyers some peace of mind when looking at the vehicle.  Buyers will pay a premium price for this kind of service.

The same can be said for home sales.  You should get an inspection before or just after listing your home.  That way you can go ahead and do repairs on the property in advance.  Instead of waiting for a buyer to find problems, take care of the issues before they even see the home.  You should also offer a home warranty and stage your home so that it puts its best foot forward.

Tip #3: Good Pricing Strategy

My final ninja tactic for defending your price is too learn a good pricing strategy.  Most inexperienced agents will tell you to leave room in your price for negotiating.  My advice is not to leave room, but to hire someone who will hold on to every dollar that it's worth.  A good agent who is also a good negotiator is worth their weight in gold.  We have a free report about pricing that you are welcome to download.

In closing, realize that 60% of homes in our market are not selling.  Of the 40% that are selling, 20% of those have required price reductions.  They take three times longer to sell and are reducing their prices by an average of 12%.

You want to be among the 20% of home sellers in our market who price right at the beginning and use these ninja tactics to get as much money as possible out of their home.