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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Some Dollhouses Can't Be Found At Toy's R Us

My name means 'little girl' in Italian.

Like most young ladies in my day, I had the standard dollhouse on the left to play with.  Furniture, little plastic figurines.  I added my own touches with odds & ends that I collected from gumball machines.  My fav was the little hot dog...not exactly to scale but I didn't care.

In spite of my shoes, I'm not much taller today than I was back then.  The daughter of one of my clients told her parents to send her picture to the 'little girl that looks like a big
girl'...that was a first for me.  I kind of liked it.   I may be on the petite side still but my dollhouses are bigger these days.

I am hoping to list one in the next week or so. Every listing isn't eligible to be a dollhouse.  Not even all MY listings are dollhouses.  They are unique, hard to find properties that bring out the 'little girl' in this agent.   Properties that I make me feel like staying. Every square foot is utilized to it's utmost potential!  The furniture and dishes are eclectic, pillows you can't help but pick up and look at, a listing to linger in. 

You schedule a showing and arrive earlier than your buyer so you can walk through and look around some more. You just LIKE being there.  (NO, I don't riffle through the closets and dresser drawers...not that kind of behavior - I PROMISE).   A home that FITS, regardless of the size or style makes me say..."I would buy this house".   They come in
all sizes just like the dollhouses of my childhood.  Some are bungalows, some are mansions.  Remember Barbies Dream House?  I eventually upgraded from my tin version to her two story mansion with elevator.   I loved them both.  CLASSICS.

Dollhouses are rare finds today.  Too many short sales and foreclosures on the market.  Deferred maintenance on one hand or 'flipped' properties that all have the same flooring, paint colors and fixtures on the other.  No creativity.   Yes, I knoooow they are safe and sale-able, but they lack imagination.  They don't get much more than a casual nod on the Tuesday Morning Mandatory Tour.  I enjoy listings that make the wheels in  Ms. So and So Agent's pea brain start turning.  I can see it in her face!  She is wondering how I got this listing, and who
My buyer HAD to have this DOLLHOUSE
can she sell it to so she can have a piece of my dollhouse.  I understand, I am closing on one this week.  I have the buyer, not my listing.  But I LOVED the dollhouse - so I simply HAD TO $ELL IT!  At least five different buyers heard me say..."I have the best house!  You have to see it!  It's a DOLLHOUSE!"  Eventually, someone agreed with me.  Mark it sold.

Flocking through the house like a gaggle of geese, clucking and squawking!  Inevitably one will say, "I have someone for this...".  Then it's...'Isn't this Mr. or Ms. So and So's house...didn't Mr. or Ms. So and So used to live here?  Everyone wants to play in my dollhouse.  

Of course, some will ask...'Wasn't this listed with Mr. Discount Broker?'  They will make noises about the price, try to disqualify it in some way.  I know the deal.

Kiss my grits.  I'm getting paid on this one, and we all know it!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I'm Frightened Auntie Em!

I love scary.

I was raised on the undead.  Drive-in movies with the latest Vincent Price offering! Vintage Bela Lugosi on Saturday afternoon television. Lets not leave out the Saturday matinee movie remakes of Edgar Allen Poe - I could quote Poe at 8.  No clue what it meant but it sounded creepy and my mom liked it, so I quoted.  Poe is lost amongst the Freddie Kruger and Michael Meyers youth of the world today.

Poe spent 13 months in the low country on Sullivan’s Island – the island  had quite an effect on him; providing the setting for at least three of his stories: “The Gold Bug,” “The Balloon Hoax” and “The Oblong Box.”  I bet I could go around this office and not one agent would know Poe had ever resided in South Carolina. If it ain't Carolina or Clemson, it don't matter. 

I bring up scary to address the loss of a $599,900 sale.  A seven thousand sq ft, 6 BR 6 BA chunky slice of commi$$ion that should have been mine.  The buyers contacted me about previewing the home when they were planning a trip from Atlanta, they asked the right questions.  I scrambled around printing disclosures and looking up lot lines.  You name it.  Spent a week setting up the showing, chasing hard to reach sellers and listing agent. Then at 9:30 pm; the night before their arrival, they email they have changed their mind.  So sorry, we checked the crime stats.  We are scared to live in Orangeburg.  Seriously?
Try and find THIS in New York City!
The year is 2013 - the world is at your fingertips via the Internet and yet you send someone dancing around for a week and THEN check for community stats?

I sat there and GOOGLED so I could see what they saw.  Yup.
There is was. In all its black and white and 'It's on the Internet so it must be true' glory. Gorey glory.  I so scared glory.  You can compare Orangeburg to New York City if you want...the website will show you are safer in New York City, Los Angeles, even Washington DC than Orangeburg, SC.  Not Boston though, no one is safe in Boston.

People, you have to take into account what crimes are being committed, and well hello...apples to apples.

I tell my clients straight up whats going on in the Burg.  Theft/burglaries. Vandalism of vacant properties and HVAC thefts stack the numbers against us. Check out earlier BLOG regarding all that. Nothing new here.
Friendly Kwest Mortg candy giver
No shock, no surprises.
Try and find a lender like sweet Ms. Caroline in D.C., Los Angeles or New York we so special City.  She brings us candy (makes an awesome loan for our buyers too).  You can weigh the risk vs the benefits;  CRIME FREE ATLANTA as opposed to small town living where your neighbor will call you on your cell phone while you're picking up milk at the Piggly Wiggly cause they see someone suspicious just knocked on your front door.  To which you can reply 'just call Jeff' (local police officer who just happens to also have his number logged into every cellphone in the Burg).

The reality of the whole crime scenario dawned on me the other night while watching the updated version of Fright Night. I can't believe it didn't occur to me before.  Our company has a serious problem with missing signs.  Been going on for years.  The final scene in the movie where the vampire is killed was the revelation!  The vamp is killed by a Century 21 sign! Stabbed right through his cold non-beating heart.

Countless missing signs = how many DEAD VAMPS?

Dare we ask how many of these vandalized homes were actually the scene of our valiant, vigilante VAMP killers taking back our community from ruthless blood suckers?
What better use for a Century 21 sign?
There you have it.  Orangeburg in all its gorey glory.  CRIME?  We got it under control. Our company will suck up (no pun intended) the expense to keep you safe.  Gladly sacrifice our brand to cleanse our community.

Don't let those deceptive stats scare you away if you are looking for a close knit community with excellent home values.

Poe was inspired by South for me too.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Is Your Television Looking For A New Home?

It is our responsibility to educate our clients.

Potential buyers call with the understanding that we will provide assistance in the selection and purchase of a home.  The expectation is to address what types of homes are available at a particular price point, financing, amenities, negotiations and marketing trends.

Sadly, just as teachers in today's society are required to teach behavioral modification and social skills when parents are negligent in the home, as parents push to obligate schools to build a faith in God within their children rather than instill it in the home, REALTORS are finding they have to educate their buyers on the importance of defining and establishing core values.   If they don't already have them, or you are unable to help them define some, the home buying process will become a long, tiresome, and probably unsuccessful endeavor.

E.F. Schumacherm said:  "I'm not at all contemptuous of comforts, but they have their place and it is not first."

 I go over as many of those key areas at the first opportunity (makes the home selection process so much easier), buyer presentation folders and stats on hand at  first contact.  Inevitably, after the first home preview and 'so and so said we should...',  their character comes shining through.  Priorities come to light following a consistent trend with home buyers that I find dismaying.  The best value, location and condition will slam
 up against a brick wall when a suitable spot is not readily available for the almighty television set!

The property is everything they asked for and were dreaming of.  I knew, like I knew, like I knew...this would be the house.  Incredibly the wheels screech to a stop when the husband turns full circle and says...'But where will we put the tv?'   And the conversation goes on to the size...the GLORIOUS SIZE of this technological beast... (manhood issues?)  Seriously!  This is NEVER brought up by  single women buyers (theirs run along another vein entirely).  But, couples and single men inevitably bring up the television set.  And to allow (charming and alluring as she is) the tv to influence such a critical choice is beyond me.  Are they unable to grasp the concept of value?  The price of a home to a television set?  Seriously gentlemen, bigger is not always better.

One man's television set is another man's fire pit.  The recent sale of one of my listings by another agent was hinged on a fire pit.  Mr. So and So Agent had already addressed the placement of the television (fortunately my seller displayed his own formidable set) and he was able to sail past that road block.  Apparently for this buyer, the deal breaker was his FIRE PIT!  There must be a suitable spot for the FIRE PIT.  Even with four acres, a party house and screen porch, large deck, workshop, swimming pool, the FIRE PIT took precedence.  They have one child and another on the way, I don't know if schools were mentioned?  My commission - i.e. mortgage payment off a $284,000 listing was held hostage by a FIRE PIT?  Fortunately, they discovered  it would place nicely on the expansive deck.

I will not leave you with the impression that I am a sanctimonious cow.  That I feel myself above the behavior
of today's home buyer.  I have fallen prey to the god of things as well.
I found a waterbed at a yard sale about 25 years ago and absolutely HAD TO HAVE IT!  Nothing would do but I have that was BIG, and GRAND.  And somebody slap me...a waterbed.  With a canopy and mirrors.  My own BEAST!  We had to re beam the floor (kitchen ceiling) to hold the weight of it in all its glory.  Which in turn necessitated the remodeling of the kitchen after we tore out the ceiling.  I have to say the end results were truly lovely.  I enjoyed the finished kitchen exactly 6 weeks before my husband lost his job and we were relocated to South Carolina.  Hence my new found wisdom in the elusive value in things, (it sprang a leak soon after it's relocation to The South and was replaced by a more traditional model). No water, canopies or mirrors.

What does this say about us ladies?  Our priorities lie pun intended!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sorry, no new home until we shovel all the BULLSHIT out (you can live out of boxes, right?)

I have said it before, I am saying it now.

If it looks like BULLSHIT, smells like BULLSHIT...I don't need to taste it to verify that it is BULLSHIT.

Real estate is a BULLSHIT business.  It is tossed, thrown and hidden from the unsuspecting every day.

YES, I am a tad TICKED OFF!   I called BULLSHIT weeks ago...and oh is BULLSHIT still today.  Buyers and sellers should never be jerked around over dotting an i, crossing a T, a misplaced email or fax.  Running from their jobs to rework addendum after addendum, sign and fax paperwork two, three and four times before some 'assistant' says 'oh, HERE it is'...duh

At some point (which should be ALL THE TIME).  The real estate deal should be about the BUYERS AND SELLERS.  Not the lenders, not the attorney, nor the REALTORS.

It is time for the clients to pick up the UGLY STICK and start whacking at the lenders, appraisers and inspectors.  Yes, even the real estate agents.  It's coming.  Mark my words.  They have HAD ENOUGH

I am going on record...right now, ...and offer a clear forecast so you can put on your boots and CYA.  The BULLSHIT is coming to and end!!!  Buyers and seller have been strung out, strung along and strung up for so long the entire home buying process is about to transition from BULLSHIT to a SHIT STORM.

I don't have the patience for BULLSHIT and I am going to start rousing the rabble to march in the streets, order a review and QUESTION, QUESTION, QUESTION...the status quo  that has become BULLSHIT!

It is time to get to work and actually WORK.  Stop pushing the BULLSHIT button.   It's been played one too many times.

John Q. Public is looking a bit closer at your credentials (?)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Taking Your Personal Fantasy To Personal Branding

The world of real estate offers the opportunity for real estate agents to 'recreate' themselves.  We can live out our fantasies, create an image of how we want the public to view us, market the crap out of it, call it personal branding and before you know it, you ARE it!

Goodwill 'Dorothy' Shoes
Want to work your life away in shorts and a T-shirt?  Sell ONE house on the lake.  Then identify yourself as the 'lake' man (or woman-though I think I would come up with something else if I went that route) put on some shorts, take a couple photos of your fine self smiling on a boat (a couple of nice fish on line)  - send out some post cards sporting a creative tag line.  Then USE IT, USE IT, USE IT.  Before you know it - THEY will be using it. Mr. & Mrs. John Q. Public will only know you as 'The Lake Guy'.  No one will raise an eyebrow when you show up at a closing smiling in shorts.  I promise.  Seen it all over Chapin, SC when I worked relocation in that market.   Just make certain there are enough properties ON the lake (or your chosen market) that are sell able so you can actually make a living doing that.  (and know HOW to fish)

I started about 7 years ago sending out monthly newsletters to my neighborhood.  Called myself 'Your Neighborhood REALTOR'.  But guess what?  I actually lived in the neighborhood.  Walked by their houses EVERY day, attended their yard sales, they saw me mowing my own lawn.  I don't market myself as the neighborhood REALTOR to the whole town for crying out loud.  That's just ridiculous, people know better. They know B.S. when they hear it, they don't have to smell it or taste it to know what it is.

When I emailed those newsletters I included a watermark so my 'work' couldn't be stolen easily. (by fellow agents)  I am flattered if they like it enough to copy certainly, but at least retype it or something.  Don't make a photo copy and keep as yours.  My watermark prevented such blatant theft.
My Yard Sale Pin
I found a cute pin at a yard sale, took a photo of it, and made it my trademark so to speak.  My website is and using those red shoes has been a cake walk to creative marketing!  Also allows me an excuse to purchase the much needed red shoes for myself as well.  Sparkly ones!

Friends are very thoughtful about finding 'Dorothy' items for me to use.  Some are helpful, some just make you roll your eyes but they ARE thinking of me and that is everything.

Creative marketing really isn't about the home.  It's about the agent.  Driving the business to YOU. Buyers
Dorothy In My Office
and sellers, so you can in turn make the deal.  Kind of like a matchmaker for real estate.  The days of one side against the other is soooo passe'. With financing and
Before NEW 'Dorothy' shoes
conditional issues as they are you will be dead in the water before you get started with that confrontational 'steal a house' attitude.

Personal branding keeps you geared up to a higher level when things are starting to stink, clients are a pain, lenders aren't getting it done and appraisers are begging for a beating.  You can regroup and focus on something positive, yourself.  Find your happy place and stay there for a few hours and before you know it, you no longer want to slam their face into the desk.  Trust me, it works.

A friend offered me the opportunity to set up a booth last Halloween and hand out candy at her daughters school.  That's me, in my Dorothy costume - purchased from Goodwill!   (I have since made some more fitting shoes) but it got the job done.  I gained a listing off that stint.  If you look closely you will see I am wearing the actual pin from my 'logo'.

As luck (?) would have it, our REALTOR Association performed a skit at our April Membership Luncheon for Fair Housing Month. Filmed and produced by our members and posted to YouTube.  Can you guess the theme?
See what has happened here?  I AM Dorothy.  A tad older to be sure, can't sing for squat...but DOROTHY nonetheless!

I think next year I would like to be Mrs. Nicholas Cage...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Who Do Voodoo?

Real estate is full of nefarious practices.  In these trying times stories of the professional and unprofessional abound. The levels to which buyers/sellers (and their agents) will go can be funny, frightening and occasionally... unethical and even illegal.

I want to focus on some of the things that make you go hmmmm.

There are agents in this market that bury a St. Joseph statue in the yard of their sellers.  Face down, in the front yard, to elicit a faster sale. Typically this is done AFTER the home has been on the market some 400 + days, so I don't think it can be deemed very reliable. Keep in mind we are in the Land of Baptists so whether it is a lack of faith or last resort (maybe the Catholics have a different pipeline so to speak) who can say?   I would categorize it under the old school way of doing real estate called Practice the THREE P's.  Put a sign in the yard. Put it in MLS, and PRAY!
Who needs a market analysis?

Seriously, there is a website devoted to this whole practice   It just doesn't sound right to me, they don't even call him a SAINT.   There is an agent in our office who buys them by the case.  She gave one as an award to another agent during our Mandatory Tuesday Sales Meeting a couple of months ago because the other agent had a listing with the dubious honor of the longest days on the market.  Ms. So and So Realtor doesn't grant every listing a St. Joseph statue, just the reeealy long overdue to sell listings.  You have to wonder why she wouldn't bury them right off the bat?  If she invests in that many of them, why would she wait?  Could it be she subliminally doesn't WANT them to sell quickly?  Does she like having ALL THOSE LISTINGS?  Is she a collector or (gasp) a borderline hoarder?  I have to wonder what her sellers think when she shows up with the St. Joseph statue.  Do they imagine she has just thrown her hands up in the air?

Maybe, just maybe before pulling out the shovel one might take a look at the condition of the home and the list price?  Just a thought.

I started something totally innocent, but with intent, to be sure.  A GRATITUDE book.  It is actually a combination of gratitude and vision.  The intent was to help me to focus on the positive things in my life that are already in abundance, to express gratitude for them, but also to develop clear vision of  my goals - to draw the positive, joyful experiences I desire into my life.  Guess what?  I think it's working!

I just listed a home that is owned by someone who graduated from the same high school I did.  Three years behind me.  Now, keep in mind I lived in MAINE then, not South Carolina.  A town smaller than this one.  I had never even heard of this couple-didn't have the house they bought listed, and didn't represent them as buyers.   They just asked a colleague for the name of someone NOT local to sell their home, they were given mine.  They know all the same people I know back home.  Then a few days later I got a call from another man who found me on the Internet...wants to list some land in the area.  He doesn't live here.  He DID however live in Maine for 20 years.  And he is ITALIAN.  Almost no one is Italian here.  I can name one other person I have met in 22 years in Orangeburg that is Italian.  But he found ME.  And called ME.  We again traded stories about the lovely food we miss 'back there'.  REAL Italian food.  He was even wearing a ring almost exactly like one I wear every day (I think his is real gold - mine is silver).  All within one week.  Within days of my Tour of Italy and Real Estate gratitude pages.

I am sure there are people who would scoff at my 'Gratitude Book' as surely as people scoff at prayer ( I also practice this-goes hand in hand with gratitude).  Of course, I continue to aggressively market my
properties, monitor the sales in MLS, keep my market analysis up to date, investigate new trends and opportunities-all that good stuff.   But if something is's working.  We do what we do for that little extra 'edge'.  However, sometimes it may appear the agent has stepped over the edge of the cliff!

 What can I say?  

Friday, April 5, 2013

Picking a Scab

Scab?  Sounds gross, I know.

There is nothing quite as dismaying for a real estate agent as a scabbed house.  This is my own term.  Came up with it after a recent rant.  I had just returned from previewing an upcoming listing.  I sold the current sellers into the home a short time ago, they are moving again and called me since I helped them find the home.  It was a dollhouse when they bought it.

I LOVED this house.  Pushed it hard when it was on the market.  Agents do that.  Usually it's their own listing, but I will do it when I come across a property that I think is a particular value.  This home was that.  Was, it is no longer.  The warm fuzzy feeling has turned to cold terror.

The yard looked a little rough when I arrived but there had been a lot of rain and it was the end of winter.  I made excuses in my mind.  I couldn't uphold the delusion once inside though.  I am not a neat freak - not on any level.  And home maintenance is a chore for me too.  But seriously?  How can you completely trash a home in such a short amount of time? (less that 2 years)

From DOLLHOUSE to dog house.  Literally.  New puppy tearing through the house.  Cats, (don't let them out please) they only stay inside, AND eat on the counters (that's where their food bowls sit).  You can see them in the listing photos.  REAL special.

Keep in mind, just a short time ago, these sellers were buyers.  They picked apart homes left and right.  Opened closet doors, peered under cupboards and critiqued paint colors as viciously as a mad dog.  Now
the colors on the walls would send Martha Stewart into hysterics.

I can talk around most things.  I truly can.  But at a particular point a buyer shuts down, they stop listening.  Sensory overload.  The piles on top of the refrigerator, clothes (BRAS) hanging from door knobs, power tools in the family room.  They simply shut down, and walk away.  A buyer will suck up just so much and then will write off the house.  If the seller doesn't care enough about their own property to present it in an appealing fashion - why would they imagine that a buyer would find it something to invest their future in?  The buyer questions what is going on with the home that CAN'T be seen?

I have had to listen to 'feedback' from the showing agents  'Did they know we were coming'?  Buyers riding by to check out the location, 'It looks like rednecks live there'. The former owners (What happened? They were thinking foreclosure).  Even a call from an appraiser, 'uhhhh...did you price the home to sell while they were still living in it?' she asked.  'No', I said.  'I priced it to sell as soon as they move out'.  Somebody just slap me.

Do the sellers realize what their home looks like?  Yes, they do.  If they didn't they wouldn't say things like 'don't take pictures of this or that room'.  They wouldn't make comments about how 'Down to Earth' they are (I just loooove that one).   They talk circles around me in my effort to 'improve' the marketability of their home.

The home is not SHARK BAIT ( see previous BLOG), but a scabbed house.  What you see is the result of an infection.  The house is infested.  And because of that infestation it has scabbed over.  You know how scabs are... REALTORS, buyers and even appraisers are picking at it.

My poor listing.  She can't help it if she is sick and wounded.  I shall do what I can to the Visual Tour photos with PHOTO SHOP; crop, clone, EDIT the crap out of them...just as soon as I finish my coffee.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

What's In A Shoe?

As a little girl I loved shoes.
As a big girl I still love shoes.

My mother made me wear black and white saddle shoes.  I remember as clear as if it were this morning a pair of shoes that set the course of my lust and desire for eye catching, show stopping, somebody slap me - gotta have them shoes!

I was in the first grade.  There was a girl (whose name I don't remember) in the lunch line wearing THE shoes.  Robins egg blue, patent leather, Mary Jane's.  I couldn't believe it!  I had never seen shoes like that.  And I coveted.

Even THESAURUS gets it
My mother was a practical dyed in the wool Yankee.  My shoes always tied, never buckled.  Once I was even forced to wear some grey suede oxfords (can you imagine the scarring to my psyche?)  I can't imagine how I might have behaved  had owned a pair of robin egg blue shoes!  I know I would have felt over the top special, whether anyone else thought I was or not.  Those shoes might have changed the entire course of my life!  I had worn leg braces when I was first walking but they were LONG GONE by the time I hit first grade.  That shy, runty child needed some confidence boosting style.

Ask anyone who knows me - those days are long gone and this woman has got the shoes!  I actually have a pair of bright blue patent leather flats (LUCKY BRAND) - look great with jeans.

Image, reputation, personal branding, and that ever important first impression are crucial to a REALTOR.  Being a REALTOR is a celebrity of sorts.  After awhile your name gets out there - people know who you are from magazine ads, the Internet, or whatever.  My daughter gets a big kick out of it when people ask 'are you Ms. So and So Realtor?'  (of course you kinda have to watch what you say and do sometimes).

So, in light of all that, a proper real estate agent must invest in appropriate footwear.  Remember the old fashioned thing about looking at the soles of a mans shoes?  It's become more persnickety now.  And I for one get it.  IMAGE MATTERS!  Do you portray success?  Do you look like you are in tune with what's going on?  Do you look like you even care what's going on?

Handbags must be included with the shoes.  These times necessitate a signature handbag the way the 1950's
Thank goodness for TJ Maxx
women were identified by their signature cologne!  I have enticed more than one reticent buyer to warm up and become BESTIES over my black COACH tote or my Michael Kors hobo (gifts from my daughters - Christmas and Mothers Day respectively ).  I was at a home inspection with the mother of one of my buyers and she broke the ice asking where I got my bag.  We ended up spending two hours bonding on the sellers couch for two hours.

With the men of course, it's my car.  I am not a car fiend.  I have learned that I DO prefer a fast car.  Doesn't have to be new.  My Mercedes is a 1999 - hand-me-down from my ex.  My son had the hood repainted when the miserable heat  fried the paint off poor Isabell. She wasn't used to this South Carolina sun.  But it's a conversation starter none the less.

We all portray a persona to the public.  Over time it helps identify you.  Anyone who says that is not so is lying or lazy and believes this business just lands where it lands.

On a particularly hot day last summer I met a buyer at a home inspection in a home with no air on.  It was HOT, averaging 110 degrees that week during the heat of the day.  I figured I would change thing up a bit and dress in a style untypical for me.  I wore shorts and flip flops.  Now the shorts were 'dressy', with silver shimmery threads through them.  Even had pleats and cuffs.  I wore a silk blouse.  The first thing my client said was, 'You off today?  Dressing down?' he said with a smile.  I spent as much on the shorts and silk blouse as I would have on a dress.  I didn't ever wear them when I was 'off' (those shorts are cut-off denim).  But in his mind that was NOT how his agent looked when she was 'working'.  And the flip flops?  They were really nice flip flops...they had glitter too.  You couldn't wear them to the beach or working in the yard.  Needless to say, that outfit is worn shopping or to the movies with friends now, the flip flops are gone.

It's a two edged sword.  It truly is.  The image you either select for yourself or allow others to choose for you, MUST be maintained!  I pledge to do my best for my clients, I have my eye on a killer pair of strappy sandals.  I shall not be deterred!  I do this for my clients.

Oh yeah, get this.  I tried on a pair of black & white saddle shoes at TJ Maxx to wear with my boyfriend jeans.  Who knew they could look cute?

Mr. So and So REALTOR in my office brands himself another way...with his VAN!  Everyone recognizes him.   Of course, makes it kinda hard to speed or commit other various offenses and go unnoticed.  That two old edged sword thingee...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Whose Day Is It?

Time travel is not an option
It occurred to me on Wednesday when I logged onto FACEBOOK and saw a friend had posted "Today is MY FRIDAY", that people are skipping back and forth through the work week transposing one day for another with careless abandon.

It's a common post ... 'Today is my....whatever'.  (there is probably a generational word for this but I don't know what it is).  I kind of resent those posts, designed to generate envy.  'Lucky you, lucky you...ENJOY', the postings read all down the page.  (we don't mean it, it is expected - we are totally ticked that you are off and we have to slug on into the office).

More than once after having worked both Saturday and Sunday, Monday becomes a moot point.   If I am working Saturday & Sunday - does my FRIDAY become WEDNESDAY?  Will Sunday become my Saturday or will I be short shifted and end up with TWO MONDAYS?  How would you feel if you had to live through TWO MONDAYS?

This changing of the days to suit ourselves creates obvious conflict given that what I find to be my busy WEDNESDAY may not mesh well with a clients FRIDAY.  They may be gearing up for their play time while I am trying to get them to stay on task so I can can accomplish everything I need to during my busiest day of the week.  Their lender may be stuck in a TWO MONDAY week!  They want that W-2 NOW,  not on the buyers WEDNESDAY (which will in reality be the lenders following MONDAY)!  An entire week lost (not sure if that is real time or figurative)...I am losing track.   Can you see how the flow would become muddied?

How can we know when someone is having a FRIDAY on a WEDNESDAY if they are not our friends on FACEBOOK?  I don't want to be friends with some of these people.  They don't want to be friends with me.  I just want to get them into a house.  In a timely manner.

Remember when your birthday was a one day event? Not even ALL day - just the brief time that family and/or friends had identified as a free spot to gather together and blow out candles on a homemade cake. Now we have birthday week.  Some people actually rate a birthday MONTH!   Merry Christmas has evolved into Happy Holidays - baby Jesus barely gets one day, but John/Jane Q. Public rate a week or a month?  Am I the only one that feels something out of balance here?

When the average person rates an entire MONTH of celebration for their illustrious birth - how are real estate agents to nicely convey to their buyers that lenders, sellers, and closing attorneys don't recognize their notoriety?  Their birthday doesn't rate a national holiday.  They wont' be awarded special recognition on their mortgage rates or forgiven a poor credit score.  They just aren't that special to people on the other side of the house buying process.  NOTE:  Especially the sellers.

Our sales contract states "Time is of the essence".  The contract is riddled with dates and deadlines. A step by step process with defined dates that lead to a specifically timed goal.  A closing. How can we convey the importance that Monday is MONDAY and Friday is FRIDAY.

Even real estate agents have become cavalier with identifying time.  Offers are not presented to sellers before they expire, home inspection deadlines are ignored, closings are delayed and the contract is not extended. If someone complains about their lack of diligence, out comes the threatening...'Don't you want it sold? My client is gonna WAAALK'!  ugggghhhh  How about you just skip on down the yellow brick road!   We will just wait on the Tin Man, he knows enough to come in out of the rain. Sometimes.

Picture this- clients wanna confirm a close date and the lender says, not WEDNESDAY - that's MY FRIDAY, and the closing attorney says not THURSDAY - that's MY FRIDAY, and Tina says not FRIDAY - that's MY SATURDAY...whose calendar will we use?

If 'time is of the essence', who defines the time, date, and holidays? A close date could all fall on someones BIRTHDAY WEEK and then what would we do?  

Today is Tuesday.  Mandatory Sales Meeting Tuesday.  THAT day never changes...regardless of who is having WHAT DAY!  Odd that I find that comforting. 

Monday, March 18, 2013


Tomorrow is the mandatory Tuesday $ales Meeting.

Can I stay home Mommy?
Promptly at 9 a.m. we gather to blah de dah over real estate news, warranty info, agent presentations, new listings, have-wants-needs,  all of the things that go along with where we are in the world.  AFTER the meeting the agents head out to preview NEW Listings.  This is the topic of my BLOG today.

Previewing new listings is mandatory.  Agents in our office are required to block out 9-11 a.m. or thereabouts every Tuesday morning for the mandatory Tuesday $ales Meeting and following Tour of NEW Listings. I have no problem with the whole Tour of NEW Listings policy.  I rarely put mine on tour, the herding of the cattle through in 3 min or less isn't my idea of pro-active marketing.  There are a handful of others who abstain.  I prefer agents asking me to go solo and preview a listing-because it interests them.  My newest listing on Lakeside was one such listing.  The agent that puts up my signs was asking before it hit the market if he could go take a look.

Then there are the other agents. The ones who are old school.  The ones who let the office staff handle their marketing efforts.  The ones who tell their sellers and I quote 'I had an OPEN HOUSE Tuesday.'  (yes, I overheard the conversation with her client).  Now, I knew there was no OPEN HOUSE, so my ears perked up.  I couldn't hear the other side of the conversation but from her responses, her seller was no dummy.  He asked questions.  

'No', she said, 'only agents from my office came'.  uh huh...he must have asked about food etc because she finally admitted  it was an OFFICE tour.   Makes me think of a phrase my mother used to say all the time 'Lets not, and say we did'.  Where I come from, that's called a lie.

So, we now have agents using the Tour of NEW Listings as an OPEN HOUSE.  Then we have others  (and I am seeing a trend here) who use the tour to generate 'activity'.  A couple of weeks ago - we previewed a New Listing for the second time.  The difference was, the seller had moved out. We all looked at one another, 'haven't we seen this?'  A few eyebrows raised. Gas isn't cheap and time is even more costly.  Then last week, here we go, three of the six homes we previewed had been seen before on Tuesday's Tour of NEW Listings.  

Here's what I see.  Old school agents have to offer their sellers something. They have resorted to using the 'captive audience' technique.  You must view my precious listing because it is company policy.  It is MANDATORY that you preview NEW Listings, so we now make old things NEW.  Who thought this up?  A think outside the box kinda agent I'm guessing.  (I really hate that phrase) It's about as creative and innovative as their marketing plan.  Someone figured out a way to stir up 'activity' and believe it or not - the others are following their lead.  We looked at one last week that had been taken off the market and put back on a couple months later.  Another that had had a water heater leak throughout the entire house and needed to have the floors redone. (apparently no one had 'previewed' the home in some time for there to be that much damage)  So we went back change in price thank you very much.  I guess they can call their sellers and say some 15 agents went through and SAW it.   Unfortunately, none of US are buyers.  AND they are not endearing the NON-BUYERS to themselves either.  Already agents are looking for any excuse they can find to ditch the Tuesday Sales Meeting and NEW Listing Tour.

Wouldn't it make more sense to offer something people are excited about?  Something they will go away from wanting to use, share and promote.  Rather than gripe and complain about (or BLOG).

I am excited about new listings, mine especially.  My sellers are special, and PRECIOUS.  Because they are mine I educated them and they don't give me any flack (not much usually).

I don't begrudge the other agents their special PRECIOUS listings.  But give me a break,ONCE IS ENOUGH.  

Smirk much?
Unless I am skipping through with my own happy buyer.

See Mr. So and So REALTOR on the right?  He is ditching the mandatory Tuesday $ales Meeting and NEW Listing tour tomorrow to take his daughter to audition for the X-FACTOR!!!  Go Sophia!

These re-tours are just forcing us to 'think outside the box' on absentee excuses.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

My Kitty Thinks You Stink

SERIOUSLY?  Time for Spring!
I couldn't think of anything to share today.  Just sitting in my office warming my piggies and writing an Ad for our Real Estate magazine coming out in a couple weeks.  Then I realized, don't think about it - just let it come.  There is ALWAYS something going on.  So, I  pulled up MLS to take a look at the new listings and there it was...EL STINKO!

Last year the property manager from our rental department emailed me the name of one of her clients who had three properties he was thinking about selling.   He built when the market was at it's peak.  Having dealt in real estate in one form or another for most of his life he knew the odds were not good at realizing any profit on them. They didn't sell when the market was slamming so he put renters in them.  Doing what I do, I agreed to put together a CMA and marketing plans/options for him.

Now, all three were RENTED - this means 'occupied', must make appointments - pick up keys yadda yadda.  My pleasure.   HAPPY to help!  Of course, it is never convenient for all three on the same day - gotta work with the renters rights and all that.

After taking a look at the properties - evaluating the conditional issues, (we are talking chipped counter tops in some - carpeting replacement and painting), I came up with a suggested list price.  The seller was not surprised.  Said he would think about his options - whether to sell them or let them go into foreclosure.  Perhaps keep renting for a time.  I said I understood, and I DID.  We are all facing challenges nowadays.  Seemed like a very nice man.  He said he worked with a group out of town when he handled prior short-sales and would call if he decided to go that way and they would help me get them sold in this market.  Sounded like a plan.  No $$$ today but work can be forthcoming down the road.

The seller emailed me a few months later - still trying to decide but was contacting the City to see about the assessment amount.  He wanted something from me to present to them as to the 'current' value (the work I had done on those CMA's).  Sure, my pleasure, HAPPY to help.

BUSTER - doing a stinky!
You know what's coming don't you?  

Right there on the HOT $HEET were the three properties listed as short sales - at precisely the suggested list price I had given him last fall.  With another company.  Never mind using another agent - he listed with our COMPETITION! Our rental department is handling the rentals for him but when it is time to realize a commi$$ion he goes across town?

Truthfully, no one loves working on a short sale - I won't die without it.  But if my work was good enough when he was in distress - and is good enough for my COMPETITION to use - why is TINA not good enough for the seller to allow to market his property?

Not quite sure what to make about this relationship.

I asked my cat BUSTER what he thought about the whole thing...he said 'Stinky is as Stinky does....'

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Engineer Stew

Assigner of Referrals
also known as 'Pretty Marsha'
I don't mind work.  Truly, I don't.  I just like for it to be rewarding.  It doesn't have to be monetary.  Just give me SOMETHING I can use.  So many avenues to generate clients.  You have read of a few in previous posts.

Today, lets talk about referrals.  See that smiling Ms. So and So Relocation Director to the left?  She is our BELOVED!  Tracks the real money in this office.  Referrals and relocation business.  Assigns, places, monitors, updates, and writes the checks.  We do so love to see her coming, usually.

You can imagine my delight yesterday when she brought me a buyer referral!!
Referrals (in particular of the Relocation kind) are the life's blood of any REALTOR worth her weight in chocolate and french fries.  And this girl has surely consumed her share of chocolate and fries!  (me not Ms. So and So Relocation Director).

The transferee (known as Buyer), called me this morning.  Time to gather the details of his wants and needs, time frame, community tour.  I was pretty psyched - now I am just pretty pissed.  He is looking for a RENTAL.  Now, that's fine.  We get that people don't always buy.  But he came in with a 37.5% price tag attached to his name, a must contact immediately, and 6 pages of disclosures.  Ms. So and So Relocation Director spent three days working this placement.  Screening agents, calling the client coordinator in Chicago to confirm dates, paperwork.  For a 'referral' that should not have been placed.  We actually have a rental department.  What we have here is a greedy Relocation Company that didn't bother to screen their client one iota but placed it just in case, one day, somewhere down the road there was a penny to be made.  

I struggled not to transform Ms. So and So Relocation Director from 'Pretty Marsha' into 'Bad Marsha'.  We have a relationship to maintain too.  Everything is not just about THEM!  I know, I sound mean.  But this is my business we are talking about. Mr. So and So RENTER now thinks I WORK for him.  For nothing.  'Bring me a phone book and map, now', he says.  I suggested gently he come by the office on his lunch break and pick it up.  'No, come now, I am not busy and we can meet.'

Whatever.  I went.  Nope.  Not buying. Not now, not EVER.   Would I get a list of rentals together - set them up and when his wife can get 4-5 days off she will come to town and we will take that time to look at them.  uh huh.   

I understand and accept that every contact doesn't lead to results - sometimes it leads to absolutely ZIP, NADDA, NOT A PRAYER OR A SCRAP.  But my intent is to work towards a paycheck.  Or to build a relationship that will lead to a paycheck.  To be fair, this man has NO CLUE what is going on here.  But I have been put in a very awkward position.  I have to inform him that his RELOCATION COMPANY sucks.  That they shoved him off using the guise of a buyer referral to find him housing.  He thinks they told me he was looking for a rental.  I informed him NOT, but he still didn't understand the issue.  :-/

I have gone from Happy Dance to Chin Drag in mere minutes.  There will be no raising of the wine glass this week.  No run to Bi-Lo for special treats.  Certainly no paying of the bills for awhile.

Fortunately, the 'free' table in the office kitchen has been replenished.  I ran out in a mad dash this morning to follow up on my 'referral' and forgot my meager lunch at home.  I shall feast on the benevolence of my wealthier counterparts today!  Add it on top of the chocolates and french fries.

Thankfully, a former buyer called the other day.  The are being RELOCATED!  It's a listing referral.  Still have to wait on a buyer to get paid on it - but work is work.  Opportunity knocks.  Again.  And if he is moving out - someone must be moving in!  My precious ALBEMARLE will be shifting their engineers around again.

I do so LOVE engineers...

Engineers are meticulous clients.  Mini-home inspectors in their own right.  Well qualified to purchase, we spend some fun hours talking all sorts of cool stuff as we drive from listing to listing.  I like to eat their brains, gain all their knowledge.   I also know I will get paid...
So, here I sit....broken hearted...waiting on Ms. So and So Relocation Director to appear in the guise of 'Pretty Marsha' and bring me a qualified buyer referral so I may once a gain go from famine to FEAST!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Stinky Fish

LEADS are like FISH.

Real estate LEADS anyway.  You have to fish for them, cast your line or net and pull up who knows what?  The catch of the day - or a sorry, soggy old branch that you have tugged and pulled on for half a day. Wriggly, elusive, sly creatures, these LEADS are.

How long it been on market?  Will they RENT?
Real estate companies have a fabulous tool (dubious) at their disposal called LEAD Router.  The program captures the contact information of consumers from the internet as they click on listings.  Presumably looking for additional info - or to request a showing.  That sort of thing.  Within seconds their request is forwarded by an automated message to my cell phone, an email copy is also received.

'You have a new company generated lead from LEAD Router...if this is not voice mail click 1' (and so on)

You accept the LEAD by phone, then log in to the website and follow up on their request.  Time sensitive of course. We like to tell our sellers how ON TOP OF OUR LEADS we are for THEIR properties.  And we are.  It's just that the LEADS are very often the equivalent to a 10 year old surfing the net, searching for the newest game on the market.  CAN he actually buy the game?  WILL he buy the game?  And the ever loving...'My parents are going to buy me the game'.  The only thing we might know conclusively is that he LIKES the game.  Maybe.

In the beginning LEAD Router was a unique, valuable program.    The sites were reputable, reliable and consistent.  As the years have progressed EVERYONE with a website is in the game.  As you would expect - the capability to screen these LEADS has weakened and the quality has begun to stink.  

I was all for the idea in the beginning!  OH THE LEADS we would see, you and I, you and I - oh the LEADS we would see, YOOOOOU AND IIIIII!  bah   

Like fish, they are all out there swimming in one vast septic sea.  Barracuda, starfish, eel, coral, license plates, medical waste; you get the picture.  (Nosey neighbors, people looking for desperate sellers who will RENT, REAL buyers that do research on line first, Relocation clients, people looking for vacant homes to vandalise, agents from other markets wanting to set up showings).  You don't know whats out there by standing on shore looking at the ocean.  GOTTA fish, no way around it.

Agents have become quite savvy at sorting through the LEADS.   Most click 9 (to reject this LEAD) so it will route along to the next agent on the list, sit back and laugh and shout out...'got a live one coming your way...', to the agent standing next to them by the coffee pot.   I will accept or reject on a variety of personal criteria (which I shall NOT share).  I am pretty good at qualifying the Cod from the chum.

My phone rang last week.  The lead was regarding a home listed by another agent in our office (out of compliance-you have to UPDATE your LEADS).  I accepted the lead - it was a real name with a 'question about property' request.  I didn't have anything pressing so I figured I'd take it and see what I could make of it.  The LEAD called me personally, within about 5 minutes of receiving my email!!

Well, helloooooo...

We talked; he later came to look at the home (from North Carolina) on the outside - alone;  made an appointment to preview the INSIDE (another trip from N.C.).  I began to get interested.  We set a time to meet at the house.  Dare I hope?  Would the LEAD show?  And if so, would it be because they were in town visiting relatives and killing time or were they semi-serious?

I arrived at the property at 12:45.   Fifteen min early, as is my routine.  They were already there!  Had been there since 11:00!!!  (yes, almost 2 hours EARLY?)  Just walking around the 13 acres (dreaming, planning).


The LEAD it turns out, is 77 years young. Can you say INTERNET SAVVY?  He arrived with his wife and daughter (she sent me a friend request on FACEBOOK while we were going through the house).  DAD loves FACEBOOK too.  Has done more research online about this property than the listing agent!

My LEAD has turned into a potential BUYER.  They have gone back up to NC to talk with a REALTOR about selling their house, check financing options - maybe, maybe not. What motivates a 77 years young buyer?  I may only end up with a new FACEBOOK friend (good enough) - but Lord willing...I will be eating a healthy serving of CROW. 

Not to be confused with that other pie...
UPDATE:  Ms. Agent So and So did NOT do her presentation this morning in the Tuesday Morning Mandatory Sales Meeting... 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Avoiding The CANNIBALS

Tuesday morning = mandatory sales meeting and tour to preview our new listings.

As I have blogged before agents have been assigned to do a 'presentation' at that time as well.  For the past two weeks an agent in our office has neglected to show up and present hers.  (remember what happened when I did mine?  The 'Catty Cow" commentator?)  

Ms. So and So Agent proclaimed when she was selected she didn't want to do it. WOULDN'T do it.  And to date, she has not.  Now, she has not been excused by the managing broker, and at each session the broker announces that Ms. So and So Agent called in or sent a text she would be absent.  The Broker in Charge has also stated each time that Ms. So and So Agent will be required to present next week. 

Ms. So and So Agent strolls in after the tour - just before lunch, happy as you please.  Nothing said.  By anyone.

Eventually this is what will happen.  She will have a new listing that she wants all of the agents to preview.  She will HAVE to come in.  Now, one of two things will happen.  She will do her presentation or it will be 'forgotten' and the cycle will begin again.  At some point the whole process will fade away and those who have not had to do it yet will not be required to.  It's how the game of office manipulation is played.

WHY would Ms. So and So Agent feel so adverse to something so relatively simple?  She gets to pick her topic, ANY topic with no minimum time to speak.  As short and simple as she please.  

CANNIBALISM: Rarely hunger related
Size-structured cannibalism, is cannibalism in which older, larger, more mature individuals consume smaller.  That is it in a nutshell.  She knows exactly what her peers are capable of.  Because they can, they might, might not, might,  just chew her to little pieces.  They might begin to gnaw on her right then and there. In tiny little snippets.  Or, it may come later - pop up in a conversation around the coffee pot, whispered and sniggered about in the car on tour.  You just never know.  But the fear is there.  It is the nature of the BEASTS!

Ideally, if the culture of our company were different, agents would feel comfortable presenting whatever moved their hearts and minds.  Regardless of the politics and quirks, they would be respected, encouraged and lifted up. 

Animals, on the other hand, have a completely different perspective towards cannibalism. We often think of food shortage as the main reason behind it, but we couldn't be more wrong. Several species indulging in cannibalism do it with a specific purpose in mind. For instance, felines do it to garner female attention, whereas golden eagles do it for reasons of personal survival. All reasons apart, there are about 1500 species indulging in some type of cannibalism.  (REALTORS excluded)

Ms. So and So Agent should have faced the BEASTS today.  She probably would have escaped unscathed.  KWEST Mortgage visited today and brought BREAKFAST!  They also brought 3 door prizes!  Sweet little Valentine treats.  Our motley little crew was well fed, puffed up and pampered.  Mellowed out if you please.

YUP!  I won 
I suppose I could have sent Ms. So and So Agent a text, advised her to make her best shot while the BEASTS were sunning themselves.  What can I say?  I am perverse like that.  I want to see how this will play out in the animal kingdom of Real Estate.  I'll keep you posted. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Make $ Off Male Menopause

Sounds bizzare I know.  But in these challenging economic times a REALTOR has to do what a REALTOR has to do.  And that is take advantage of every opportunity to work your business.

There are actually BOOKS about this
Now, how does Male Menopause fit into this?  Other than sounding catchy and trendy and perhaps luring you into clicking on a link?

According to my seller he IS going through a change.  He has gone so far as to approved my disclosure of that personal information too.   Disclose it to FUTURE BUYERS!  Now this is a progressive man.  He embraces challenge and is confidant he can forge ahead in spite of this unavoidable change.

He was a relocation buyer a mere 18 mos ago.  Incoming in a mad fervor to have his new wife and three step-children happily installed in their new home prior to the beginning of the new school year!
EVERYTHING a family wants! 
It was stressful to say the least - find something in the right school district where the children could all be happy as well as a home that fit their lifestyle.  WE FOUND IT!  There was really only ONE that would fit.  A lovely brick home, landscaped front, back and sides.  In-ground pool, party house, workshop, hardwood floors - and all on FOUR ACRES!  Throw in a home office, four bedrooms, large laundry room, eat-in kitchen, formal living room.  What more could you want?  The man even bought a four wheeler as a little house warming surprise for the kids.

Alas, three months later - the wife and her three children packed it up and headed back up North.  What can you do?  Life goes on.  My client is in a new relationship with a lovely lady and they are very happy.  The house however, no longer meets THEIR needs.   No need for those extra bedrooms, they would rather live on the beach (just the 2 of them) than mow four acres.  See how that works?  The change?

My seller wanted to assure buyers there was nothing wrong with his home.  He loved it when it worked for his family.  He is selling because of a change.

So long as people are born, die, get married, divorce, there will still be real estate deals to be made.  So, if  YOU are looking for that ONE home in Edisto School District Four that offers it ALL...check this one out - the pool is awesome!

If you need to, you can always hide that middle age spread behind the privacy fence! 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

STEAL a home, it's a BUYERS market...yeah right.

PREDATORS are scouring our community, stripping homes of plumbing, wiring, HVAC units, you name it! The deputy that responded to my recent call discussed the reality of what is going on.  Apparently, this disgusting, crude, opportunistic bunch of parasites are the new 'professional'.  He told me that just like he and I get up every day and go into our workplaces and perfect our skills, these creatures are hitting the gym to work out (need to keep their sorry a** strength up), forming teams (to scout out the vacant homes), developing their tech skills (snooping county records on line), and networking (gotta sell that STOLEN gain & garner LEADS)!  

Foreclosed properties in rural areas have been the target for years.  Having had a free reign in that arena, they have expanded to virtually every neighborhood. If it is vacant, it is up for grabs.   I had one just 3 doors from an elementary school!  A week before closing they gutted the HVAC unit.  My elderly seller lived 2 hours away with her son.  Within the City limits, neighbors very close, nice neighborhood by a SCHOOL!  BUT, it was vacant.  

Twice my listings were victimized while under contract.  Just after the home inspection, before repairs could be completed.  Repairmen, appraisers, inspectors, insurance people, take your pick. There is a revolving door through these homes as we prepare for a closing.  I am sure it is a coincidence that the same buyer agent and home inspector were involved on both properties. Within 6 weeks of each other.  But somewhere, someone is a common denominator here.  This is just too small a community.  The deputy tells me the best thing is a deer camera.  Get them on tape and they are DONE!  I am thinking to get one for my own home.  They are cheap, easy to install and who knows how long before these creeps move on to the occupied homes? Since when did VACANT translate into belonging to no one so I can take what I want?

My buyers found a property they wanted to see, (vacant) - I asked the listing agent what issues the home had (it was priced pretty low).  'It only needs a condenser for the HVAC and some cosmetic work', she said, 'depending upon the offer it may or may not end up a short sale'.  Not bad.  The photos were a little rough but it was priced accordingly so off we went to have a look at a decent 'opportunity'.  A good location, motivated seller, and priced at market, I anticipated a happy showing.

One day, these DIRTBAGS will be caught - and shot
We hugged and made happy when I arrived, it has been awhile since we last saw one another.  "Someone has stolen the plumbing,' my client said as soon as we started toward the front door.  I knew it looked shabby but assured him it was not a foreclosure but a resale and just needed HVAC repairs.  'That's gone too', he said.   I stopped in my tracks then, 'How do you know?  Did you walk around?" (they had been sitting in the car when I arrived. 'Yes', he laughed.  I frowned.

I typically arrive before my buyers, and if the home is vacant will walk around outside just in case.  I sighed and opened the front door - I could see straight through to the back of the home where the kitchen door window had been boarded up.  Not a good sign.  We went through the home, it needs everything, paint, flooring, fixtures, and  My client proved it - he opened the cabinet under the kitchen sink, reached in and pulled UP on the pipe.  It came up out of the floor - nothing attached.  Completely stripped from under the house.

Not washing any dishes in this sink. 
'I could tell it was gone the minute I drove into the yard and saw the water spout on the front of the house tilted to the side,' he said.  (he is a plumber by trade) The crawlspace was wide open.  They had gone under the home and sawed off all the copper pipes and just carted it all away.  Not a clue from inside the home until you try to use something, turn on a faucet or shower.

My clients had been excited to find a home that they could work on at a realistic price.  They are energetic, looking for a project, we are going to build a home together, kind of people.  As I said, he is a plumber, so they were amused and not so daunted by the little surprise we discovered.  It will mean something entirely different to a seller who is trying to make sense of the downturn in the market and changes in employment.  Their equity is gone, and now the home is rendered unlivable and unable to obtain financing.   Maybe they have paid their homeowners insurance, maybe not.  When it comes to making the mortgage payment and the money doesn't quite wrap around everything, some have let theirs lapse hoping not to get caught.

Easy to gut a home by the crawlspace
Is it a buyers market?  No.  There are too few homes available that buyers would be willing to purchase, too few sellers that can afford to sell at market value AND make repairs/upgrades, and precious little new construction.  Buyers and sellers are having to work together to get the homes  BOUGHT and realize a SALE.  It is a team effort, both sides must understand what it will take to achieve the desired goal.

We need PROTECTION, JUSTICE, VINDICATION from aliens sucking the very guts from houses left unguarded.

Dramatic?  Maybe.  But I am getting ticked off, sick of cleaning up after these animals.  THEY are stealing our homes, piece by piece.

I think it's time to call ARNOLD! Bring someone in who can take these monsters DOWN!